Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jeff Niemann To The Pittsburgh Pirates?

Jeff NiemannThat is what Cory Humes of Pirate Revolution thinks Pittsburgh Pirates' General Manager Neal Huntington should do to fill the Pirates #4 starter slot:
Niemann's name popped up in trade rumors at last July's deadline when Tampa was reported to have interest in Jason Bay. It's easy to see why Huntington would come calling: Niemann is nearly 7 feet and 280 pounds of right-handed power, fitting squarely within the team's mold for the ideal pitcher.

Still, making a trade with Tampa seems difficult. What do you get the team that has everything? I'd offer up impending free agent John Grabow, a more natural fit for the Rays' 'pen than Niemann. Grabow would complement incumbent southpaws J.P. Howell and Brian Shouse -- he's a talented left-handed reliever also capable of getting righties out. Grabow would deepen the Rays' staff, allowing Joe Maddon to play matchups against the Yankees and Red Sox.

With Price primed to tear up the American League, and with Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson et al. arriving sooner rather than later, the Rays can afford to deal an arm with some upside for another piece of a championship contender.

In Pittsburgh Niemann would take the rotation spot that Jeff Karstens or Virgil Vasquez is currently slated to fill.
1. Maholm, LHP
2. Snell, RHP
3. Duke, LHP
4. Niemann, RHP
5. Ohlendorf, RHP

The bold is mine. How many "nearly 7 feet and 280 pounds of right-handed power" pitchers do the Pirates have that fit "squarely within the team's mold for the ideal pitcher"? And how many more can they acquire for a 30 year old LOOGY like John Grabow? My guess is that it will be difficult, best of luck with that.


  1. Everybody's sold on Niemann in the 'pen, any chance he makes the rotation on 2010?

  2. Probably not, Price will be there, and most likely Davis too. And then the next wave will be knocking on the door.

  3. Doug,

    You'll note I wrote "Niemann is ... power," "which fits the mold" -- Huntington has a propensity for acquiring pitchers who throw hard but struggle with other weaknesses. Evan Meek, Craig Hansen, Tyler Yates, Denny Bautista off the top of my head. The size was just an adjective.

    Grabow isn't a LOOGY. Just because a reliever is left-handed doesn't mean that he's forced to be a specialist. Grabow has no noticeable platoon split.

    I think he'd be a much better fit for the 2009 Rays than Niemann will be. There comes a point where you can only feature so much long-term talent, and need to play to "win now." Maybe Grabow doesn't get a deal done, but I hope Tampa gets something for Niemann before he blows up in the 'pen and gets shipped out at 10 cents on the dollar.

  4. Cory,

    Understand about the size thing. About the LOOGY comment, you're right. I was a little loose with the term and did check his splits after I posted. When I saw the numbers I realized I was wrong. I still don't think he's worth Niemann, but he is more than a LOOGY in value.

    As to getting value for Niemann, I think someone will see him as cost-controlled back of the rotation starter. The question is whether they have something we want to make the trade a fit. The blow up you refer to was evident in his last outing. Can't blow up much worse than that!

    You have a nice site, by the way.