Bay and Barrett Buzz; Record by Runs Scored

How about Buster Olney’s report yesterday at ESPN?

According to Olney, the Padres are potentially interested in about 25% of the Pirates 40-man who have more than 100 innings pitched or 300 at bats under their belt.

25%!!

Talk about cleaning house.. Morris, McLouth, Nady, and Bay are all mentioned. This is probably recycled stuff other than the Barrett part, but let’s take a look anyway and talk about 23 year old Chase Headley for a moment since he seems to be the star attraction in the fans minds.

Headley is a B to B+ AA prospect depending on who you talk to. That being said, he didn’t crack Baseball America’s top 100 prospects in 2007 which did include Brent Lillibridge who we all knew to be a borderline everyday player.

Part of the reason for that was because Headley had horrid home/away splits in advanced A at Lake Elsinore in the California League:

Home: 241 AB, .261/.368/.365 w/4 HR & 13 2B
Away: 241 AB, .328/.416/.510 w/8 HR & 20 2B

To put his 2006 in context for you, Lake Elsinore is a pitcher’s park in the easiest run scoring league in baseball, so you can see why the scouts worried about his power with little displayed at home.

In 2007, Headley put up monster numbers in the friendly Texas League: .330/.437/.580. He raked with a career high 20 home runs and 38 doubles in 434 AB. The year before, Alex Gordon (Royals – #2 Top 100 BA prospect), Hunter Pence (Astros – #38 BA prospect), and Brandon Wood (Angels – #8 BA prospect) did the same thing in that league. But so did Josh Bonifay, Kevin Mahar, and Ray Sadler.

Which group does Headley fit best in?

Scouts saw Headley raking against the grain that year with no less than a .932 OPS home or away. His higher doubles output wasn’t so surprising because only three of the eight Texas League parks suppress doubles and the other five are some of the easier parks in the minors to rake them in.

As for his higher home runs that year, the away parks in that league are mostly all well above average for hitting homers so it’s not so surprising he yanked 11 over the wall. But his output at home is being talked about because San Antonio is one of the harder places to go yard.

Now I didn’t breakdown the nine home runs he did hit at home to see who they were off or if they occurred in games with a 30 mph wind or anything, but I probably should have. My guess is that there is an explanation. And we’re only talking about nine homers with perhaps two being higher than expected.

Is that enough to move Headley from a B- or B to B+ to A- prospect grade? Not in my book, but it was in some other circles like with Sickels.

This is the kind of deal you have to trust your scouts on – as a fan I can’t begin to make that judgment call. The unfortunate part for the Pirates is, they seem to have very poor area scouts out West and virtually nobody in California that would have watched him in 2006. That leaves the call to Huntington and his peers in the game (which aren’t exactly snuggling up to him), Greg Smith and his peer group, and Larry Corrigan’s contacts.

Other potential facts we know are that multiple sources have said Headley doesn’t project out past 2009 or 2010 as a third baseman (lack of a corner bat and limited range filling out) and we know we moved Walker to third in our system. Walker is probably playable in the outfield defensively but his bat doesn’t play out there any better than Headley’s.

So, the guessing game starts if you believe in this deal.

Is Headley our future 3B in Huntington’s eyes when nobody I can find plays him there long-term? Or is he our future 1B in a Sean Casey doubles machine mold? If so, then does Huntington retard Walker’s third base development by shifting him to right field in 2008 and then back again in a few years? Hmm.. none of that makes any sense if it can be avoided.

Perhaps there is more to Walker’s injuries than we all know about, or dealing LaRoche is in Huntington’s future plans, or Headley or Walker will be turned around and dealt?

Lots of possibilities.. and honestly, very few easy answers.

Now the true key to any potential deal with Headley in it is: what is he really worth? Is he the doubles hitter everyone in the industry is telling me he is, or the power corner guy some of the media are playing him for?

Are the Pirates jumping in and taking him at too high a power value after a one-year, two/three more home runs than normal hot streak? It’s very possible considering he raked a .400+ batting average on balls in play all year, mostly early.

And what happened to him after his cup of coffee call up in June? He raked for a couple of weeks in July then cooled off like a cucumber hitting just .254 in 130 at bats with only 2 home runs and a total of 11 extra base hits. Potential red flag?

My take? Headley is not in the Gordon/Wood/Pence class of elite players and the Pirates shouldn’t deal for him thinking that way. He’s a great contact hitter which is nice to have around, but he has to play somewhere. If it’s third for now and first later on, is that what we want as a return for our big power guy in Bay – a doubles hitting corner?

Not on my card. Let the Padres keep him.

As I finished this I saw the Post-Gazette dropped a mid-day bomb on Olney’s report. Now, the Post-Gazette running out a team PR statement mid-day is about as unusual as it gets and, as you saw, earlier in my post I questioned how much of Olney’s report was recycled. My sources suggest they continue to have an open dialog but there’s nothing drawn up except, as I mentioned, possibly for Barrett.

Michael Barrett? Word on the street is that John Russell wants Paulino replaced – period, end of story. So Pirate fans can probably expect to see a new receiver behind the dish next year and Barrett is one guy who happens to be available.

This might get done.

But if it doesn’t, look for Huntington to find another receiver. I still don’t understand why we don’t go after Jeff Clement. His wrist injury in 2006 cut his value some and he’s blocked. Perhaps our non-existent West Coast scouts feel he isn’t playable behind the dish too long or the Mariners want someones first born for him? Who knows.

Non-tenders? Sure, Huntington will attempt to improve the roster anyway he can and picking up castoffs at their low point is one way to do that.

I expected the Pirates to be a lot more involved in trades and free agent signings this week than it has been. I also expected to start seeing minor league free agents signed, but so far nothing of consequence.

I mentioned the other day the Pirates would probably make a run after one of the three right-hand relievers left in the pool and it’s leaked that the Bucs are in on Luis Vizcaino.

That’s a no-brainer.. a must sign for the Pirates for 2007. I assume they will offer him a ridiculously high one-year to get him off the books asap and to force his productivity level higher being in a contract year. We really need his strand capability and innings.

(edit 12:20 PM – Dejan is saying Vizcaino signed with the Rockies. Wow.. that’s a shame, but understandable for him. I suppose that means Chacon will be back on our radar screen. Just a guess.)

Tejada to the Astros. Wow – will he rake in the smaller NLCD parks, or what? That’s a solid signing by the Astros even giving up Patton.

Yeah, yeah.. exciting stuff – the Pirates inked Gomez.

2006 – 2007 team record by runs scored. The graph below shows the MLB median winning percentage, number of games, and number of wins and losses when 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 runs are scored by a team in a game between 2006 and 2007. Below the MLB median is how the Pirates differentiated from the MLB median.

Of note was the number of games the Pirates won scoring just 3 runs – 4th best in baseball fueled by their 12-13 record in 2006. Now that was lady luck playing her hand. At the bottom you see the Pirates lost 12 more than the MLB median in 2-6 run games and we were off by 10 wins per year – that’s a ton. Food for thought.

MLB leaderboard in 2-6 runs scored games 2006 – 2007:

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