Pirates, Astros and Mets have big days, while Yankees confuse in Nashville

These Winter Meetings have been fun, haven’t they? There have been a lot of big names swapping jerseys, but that isn’t so unusual compared to years past. What is exciting is that many of the big moves aren’t merely trading names, they are making already strong teams stronger… and scarier.

Jon Niese heads to Pittsburgh for Neil Walker

At first, I thought the Mets got a steal in acquiring Neil Walker, but now I think this trade is pretty darn even and that both the Pirates and Mets are winners.

My main problem with the trade was that Niese — in my eyes — was the odd man out in New York. That rotation full of young arms simply had no room for what Niese had to bring to the table, so I thought the Pirates could have had him at a cheaper cost.

As I thought about it, I remembered how good Niese is and that the Pirates essentially made another move in this trade. Josh Harrison now has a home. Getting everyday production from Harrison will only make him better, and in turn, make the Pirates better.

As will Niese. I can see Niese winning 15 ball games in Pittsburgh. They have solid defense and score runs, which the Mets struggled with until Yoenis Cespedes came to town. Apparently Niese likes that as well:

Walker is a huge pickup. It’s funny how fantasy baseball can persuade someone’s loyalty to a player. Walker was a fixture on my fantasy squad that went to the championships and in turn I paid more attention to him. He is one of the better second baseman in baseball, despite seeing some decline in his production.

I think this is a great pickup for the Mets. As I already said, I think it is a steal mainly because I’m not sure they even knew their plans with Niese and how he fit in with all of those young guns. Most likely Niese was a goner at the trade deadline if he made it that far, so this is huge. The fact that they went out and snagged Adrubal Cabrera a few hours later made it an even bigger day.

Houston gets their closer

I love the Ken Giles pickup by Houston. You want to know the primary reason?

The Astros spent five years stockpiling their Minor Leagues with top grade talent. They bided their time and knew that while they may be the laughing stock of the MLB for a few long years, they had a plan.

Last year we saw that plan in full effect. They did in fact have a bunch of young talent that was ready for the big leagues. They also had a ton of trade bait. Whereas many teams will sit on their young talent (like the Yankees seemingly are doing right now), the Astros realize that a young prospect is just as valuable in bringing in a fresh face as it is on the field.

Giles is only 25-years old and saved 15 games for the Phillies last season. I didn’t even know they had 15 wins. He had a 1.80 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP while striking out 87 in 70 innings. He did walk a few too many, and did allow 59 hits over that span, so he does need to get more consistent or he will get eaten up as an AL closer. But he has the tools to make it work, and he isn’t up for free agency until 2021.

Vincent Velasquez was a nice pickup for the Phillies. He is 23-year old starter who seemingly never had a home with the Astros. He has battled with some injuries early on in his career, but he is certainly the type of pitcher who will benefit by playing a majority of his games in the National League. Where the Phillies lost a promising young closer, I think Velasquez steps right into the rotation this year, or at least has the skill set to compete to do so.

Yankees dump Justin Wilson after one year

It’s not so much that I don’t like the trade. Wilson is a commodity in baseball. He is a flame throwing lefty out of the bullpen. But that is all he is. He seemingly threw his fastball ALL OF THE TIME, and let’s be real. This wasn’t Mo’s cutter or Hoffman’s changeup. It was a fastball.

The Yankees got two ho-hum prospects in return. No, that’s not my problem either. I get the Yankees philosophy right now is to get younger, and this trade accomplished that.

My problem with this trade is that they gave up Francisco Cervelli to get Justin Wilson just one year ago. I like Cervelli. I thought he deserved to be a starter in this league, and that’s why I wanted him traded. I wanted him to go somewhere he could start, and knowing that he had starter talent, it made his value sky high.

Cervelli shined for his new club as the starting backstop for a 98-win team. He put up career numbers in his first shot at full-time work and at only 29-years of age — and not logging a lot of innings in his time in the Bronx — he has a few years left.

So, essentially, the Yankees gave away one of the more promising catchers in baseball for nothing. A year later, the Yankees are left with two mid-level pitching prospects that won’t be ready for at least another year, and Pittsburgh has their catcher for the foreseeable future.

I just don’t get it.

Oh yea. Brett Lawrie got traded. I guess it is a good move, but I am tired of trying to predict if this guy actually brings any value to whichever team he is on during the current season. I’m sure the White Sox are already working out a trade for Lawrie at the next Winter Meetings.

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