In part two of analyzing the Pirates offseason, take a look at the guys the Pirates parted ways with.
Oct. 20 Baltimore Orioles claim Vance Worley off waivers – Worley was a likable guy and very pleasant in the dealings I had with him, but it was clear that the Pirates were done waiting for him to show consistent promise as a starter.
Worley had a trying season and saw his time as a starter with the Pirates end in Philadelphia, site of where he had some of his best pitching memories as a member of the Phillies. He had to answer questions after allowing eight hits and three runs (one earned) in four innings. Talking to me afterwards, he seemed very down and disappointed. Shortly after he was demoted into a long-relief role.
This role never was one which sat well with Worley, and he was uncomfortable in it. He remained professional about it, but you could tell he was struggling. Though he returned to the Pirates in September, he struggled to get anything going.
It will be interesting to see if he can find a starting role with the Orioles.
Nov. 6 Oakland Athletics claim Andrew Lambo off waivers – Lambo was given a major league look by the Pirates to start the season, however he struggled with the opportunity. It was later found out that this was because of plantar fasciitis and the injury and setbacks which followed ended his season.
It could be argued Lambo still was not given a true healthy look by the Pirates.
Nov. 27 J.A. Happ signs with the Blue Jays – Following his disaster first start with the team against the Chicago Cubs, pitching coach Ray Searage went to work, and what came after was nothing short of a masterpiece.
Though Happ at times downplayed his success, he was exactly what the Pirates needed.
Happ was fantastic in his time with the Pirates. My guess is the Pirates would not go a third year with Happ, and it did not come down to dollars.
Dec. 2 Pedro Alvarez is non-tendered and becomes a free agent – This was an inevitable move because of the salary he had attached to his name. Alvarez is a known quantity on both sides of the ball.
Offensively he can hit for power but is a guy who will strikeout a lot. Defensively, Alvarez is a hard worker, but was a liability at both first and third base. It was becoming a distraction to those on the field. Sean Rodriguez starting the National League Wild Card Game was likely not an accident, but rather a statement. The Pirates had run out of patience with Alvarez and though it was clear he wanted to stay, the team wanted the exact opposite.
Dec. 9 Pirates trade Neil Walker to the New York Mets – Let’s forget that Walker is from Pittsburgh for a second because that seemed to affect just about every take on Walker.
Let’s face facts Walker was a very overrated player. He could not hit left-handed pitching to save his life. It is why Josh Harrison started some games at second base when a lefty was on the mound. Speaking to Walker in Philadelphia, I could tell he dreaded my question of facing lefty starters and he seemed a bit unsure in his answer.
Defensively he was passable but he is not great. Everyone talked about Bill Mazeroski helping him in Spring Training and also about the shifts. The Pirates shift numbers rank among the highest in baseball. The Mets shift numbers rank very close to the bottom, meaning it will only get worse.
None of the above take away from the fact that Walker is a good hitter and baseball player. He handled media requests daily without complaints and was the Pirates union representative. He is a smart and fair man. He also challenged the Pirates so he could stay with the team. It was clear they did not like being challenged and as a result an extension never happened and instead this trade did. It is a bad way for his Pirates career to come to a close.
Dec. 12 Pirates trade Charlie Morton to the Philadelphia Phillies – This is a move that needed to happen. No playoff rotation should have both Morton and Jeff Locke, two very inconsistent options in it.
Morton sealed his fate in the second game of a Sept. 30 doubleheader. This was his last start of the season and in a must win game, allowed five runs on four hits in two-plus innings. The start last 39 pitches. In his last three starts, Morton never made it out of the fifth inning.
The St. Louis start in particular was embarrassing, especially for manager Clint Hurdle who backed Morton despite his horrible career numbers against the Cardinals.
Morton can help mentor a young Phillies team which is in a clear rebuild, something which may help his career.
Dec. 16 Pirates release Allen Webster – This was a bizarre one. He signed during the offseason but the Pirates were unaware of a Korean club going through the process of signing him before the Pirates acquired him.
Dec. 23 Bobby LaFromboise claimed off waivers by Los Angeles Angels – Pirates never really gave Bobby LaFromboise a true chance, and he did decently in short stints in 2015.