Found August 04, 2012 on Pirates Prospects:
Astros_vs_mets_41b4

After the Wandy Rodriguez trade was made, I wrote about how I wasn’t a fan of the deal. It wasn’t that I thought Rodriguez was a bad player. I think he can be a good pitcher for the Pirates down the stretch, and for the next few years. I didn’t like the deal for two reasons.

First, I didn’t like that the Pirates gave up Robbie Grossman to get Rodriguez. I can live with dealing Rudy Owens or Colton Cain away, but Grossman was putting up the same numbers in Double-A that he put up in Bradenton last year. The Pirates currently have one established outfielder in the majors, and Grossman looks like a guy who is a year away from getting a shot, in a best case scenario.

A bigger reason why I didn’t like the deal was that I felt Wandy Rodriguez was no longer the pitcher that people think of when they hear his name. He’s no longer the high strikeout left-hander who puts up nearly a strikeout an inning, with a decent walk rate. He’s lost about two strikeouts per nine innings the last few years, increased his ground ball ratio, and dropped a walk per nine innings. That’s still a very good pitcher, but one that’s easier to obtain.

I was thinking about that tonight. Rodriguez gave up three runs in seven innings, striking out four. It wasn’t a horrible start, but he had two really bad pitches that cost him — a hanging breaking ball to Chris Heisey, and a home run to Mat Latos. But that’s not why I was thinking about how a pitcher like the current version of Rodriguez is easier to obtain.

Down in Triple-A, Jeff Locke had a dominant start. He pitched 7.1 shutout innings, giving up three hits and two walks, while striking out ten. He did this against a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team that ranks third in the international league in OPS. And this isn’t new for Locke. On the season he has a 2.66 ERA in 125 innings, with a 113:38 K/BB ratio. He throws 88-92 MPH with his fastball, usually sitting toward the top of that range. He throws a big breaking curveball, and he’s added a ton of control to his pitches this year with a new turn to his delivery.

Locke is major league ready right now. He wouldn’t have cost any prospects. He would be making the league minimum next year, rather than taking up $8 M in payroll with the Pirates projected to spend $63 M before any off-season additions. And there’s a good chance that he can be just as good as Rodriguez is right now.

The knock against Locke is his lack of experience. You don’t know what you’re going to get, which isn’t a situation you want to put yourself in during a playoff race. But what’s the price of adding an established player? It seems that three prospects, $8 M in payroll in 2013, and a potential $7.5 M in 2014, is a lot to spend when you’ve got a guy in Triple-A who looks like he could be just as good.

The Pirates are expected to use a spot starter over the next 20 games, giving their rotation a break. Jeff Locke should be that spot starter. It would give them a chance to see what Locke can do in the majors. It’s too late to give him that shot this year and avoid adding Rodriguez. But giving him a spot start and a chance in the majors this year could add some comfort for next year, when the projected Opening Day rotation looks to be one man short, and could definitely use Locke in the mix.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates lost to the Reds 3-0.

**Pirates Notebook: Game One Against Reds Ends in Emotion From McCutchen; Pirates Shuffle Rotation.

**Prospect Watch: A Good Night For Pitchers With Locke and Kingham Leading the Way.

**Locke Wins Pitching Duel, Strikes Out 10.

**Ryan Hafner Struggling With His Control This Year.

**Minor League Schedule: 8/4/12.


THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Should Pirates Retaliate for Beaning of McCutchen?

@mbandi Right, because J-Mac buzzing someone is going to make them see the error of their ways. That has a good track record. — Ed Giles (@InClementeWthr) August 4, 2012   It is an argument that has been had numerous times. Should you retaliate if your opposition drills your best player? Friday night, Andrew McCutchen faced off against Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs...

Minor Moves: Barrett Barnes to the DL, Pirates Sign Erik Turgeon

Catching up on some roster moves that took place yesterday in the farm system: **2012 compensation pick Barrett Barnes was placed on the 7-day disabled list. No reason was given in the press release, but I’ve learned that he’s out with a lower leg stress related injury. He’ll be out for a few days, and then the Pirates will reevaluate him and determine what type of return to...

Minor League Schedule: 8/5/12

Two of the Pirates top prospects will get the start today. For Altoona, Gerrit Cole will take the mound, coming off his best start since being promoted to AA. He threw six shutout innings on Tuesday night against Trenton. In State College, Luis Heredia will get his ninth start of the year. He has an 0.95 ERA at home this year. Both DSL teams and the GCL Pirates are all off today...

This Date in Pirates History: August 5

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and one transaction of note, a trade that involves a player who was traded earlier in his career for one of the players born on this date. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland recaps a doubleheader sweep over the Reds that occurred 35 years ago today. The Transaction On this date in 1980, the Pirates traded two minor leaguers,...

Pirates Have Had Great Season, But Only Playoff Berth Can Make Year True Success

On July 25, 2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates' record stood at 53-47, good for a tie for first in the National League Central. Optimism around Pittsburgh was higher than it had been in almost two decades. Even if they didn't make the playoffs, at least the Pirates had a good chance at finishing with the team's first winning record since 1992. But the team faltered badly down...

After The Trade Deadline: Updated Top 20 Prospects

A lot has changed since we last updated the top 20 prospects rankings after the draft. Mark Appel didn’t sign. Starling Marte was promoted, and will most likely lose his prospect eligibility by the end of the year. The Pirates traded Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens, and Colton Cain. The short-season leagues started, giving us a look at what the younger prospects were working on in...

Pirates drop opener to Reds

The Reds found unusual ways to score runs tonight.  The Pirates found zero ways to score runs tonight. Wandy Rodriguez had more than a quality start tonight, pitching 7 innings and giving up just 3 runs on 7 hits.  After dealing with control issues in his last start, Wandy walked no one tonight and struck [...]

McCutchen named NL player of the Month

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen has been voted the National League Player of the Month for July.

Barajas Bombs

Rod only played in 2 games in the past week, but he was a crucial part of both games.  He caught Wandy Rodriguez’s Pirates debut on Saturday night and also had the winning hit, and he caught AJ Burnett’s one-hitter on Tuesday. Rod caught Wandy’s debut for one reason, according to Rob Biertempfel: Wandy had [...]

Jones is key cog in Pirates offense

1B/OF Garrett Jones had his nine game hitting streak snapped in Friday night's 3-0 loss to the Reds. Jones had been on a tear, knocking in 15 runs in his last 14 games and 21 RBI in his last 26 games. Prior to Friday's game he had gone 28-for-89 (.315) with five doubles, a triple, six home runs and 21 RBI in his last 25 games. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko caught...

First Pitch: The Most Important Series of the Year?

The Pirates take on the Cincinnati Reds this weekend in what could be the biggest series of the year. The two teams meet two more times this year — in Cincinnati in early September, and in Pittsburgh in late September — but considering the current standings, this is a key weekend for the Pirates to stay in the race. Cincinnati has a 3.5 game lead over the Pirates. Best case scenario...

The Fort, of course

When the Pirates acquired Mike McKenry last June, I was a little bit puzzled. The Pirates really needed a catcher at that point in the season and McKenry seemed like a decent acquisition. He hit for some power in the low minors, though he was old for his levels, and he showed pretty decent patience through his whole minor league career and his defensive reputation was good. I didn...

Indians Hold A Hit-O-Rama

Indianapolis Indians  13,  Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees  1 (Box)   Daniel Cabrera gave up one run in 6 innings. The Indianapolis Indians rolled into Frontier Field in Rochester, NY and got the party started.  They cracked out 21 hits and 13 runs to overwhelm the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees tonight.  Every member of the Indians’ line-up had at least one hit, and CF Jose...

Pirates-Reds Preview

This weekend's three-game series between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates is probably the most important one between these teams since the 1990 NL championship series. The Reds have won 13 of 14 to establish baseball's best record as they host the team chasing them in the NL Central - the wild card-leading Pirates - on Friday night. Cincinnati (64-41) and Pittsburgh...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.