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Reaction to Hoy Park / Diego Castillo for Clay Holmes Trade

by Cary Greene

July 26, 2021


AS a Yankees fan, I hate this trade.

But…booo-hooo-hahahaha!!! (Though I’m a Yankee fan first and foremost, I also have been a life-long Pirates and A’s fan, so I love this trade for Pittsburgh).

There is something that Yankee fans need to understand about the Pirates. Miguel Yajure is Pittsburgh’s #6 pitching prospect. We’re talking about a losing franchise here. As in — doomed. The Pirates only hope is to slowly rebuild their farm system so they can compete with young, controllable talent like the Rays do. Why, for cryin’ out loud, the Yankees bullpen costs $7 million more per year than the Pirates entire payroll!

The Yankee gave up a lot of talent for Clay Holmes.

But, the Yankees seem locked into trusting the analyitics team headed by Michael Fishman as the primary decision makers in any deal. To me, it was clear that Michael Fishman was never going to do anything with Hoy Park and it seems that Brian Cashman needs Fishman to sign off on every move he makes. The Yankee analytics department seems to disregard Hoy Park. He was never to be part of the Yankees plan moving forward.

I view this trade as the Yankees loss, one they will lament about one day, and the Pirates huge gain.

Pittsburgh just traded all-star second baseman Adam Frazier to San Diego because he was having a career year and was due to be a free agent after next season. In that trade, they did net the Padres’ No. 5 prospect on MLB Pipeline, infielder Tucupita Marcano who is an incredible contact hitter whom the Padres stole as an the international amateur signing for a mere $320,000.

I love the trade with the Padres for Tucupita. IN that deal, the Pirates also picked up Class AA outfielder Jack Suwinski and right-handed reliever Michell Miliano. Amazing!

I also love the trade with the Yankees from the Pirates perspective because the Pirates scouted the heck out of the Yankees and they played Brian Cashman like a fiddle.

Diego Castillo was having a break out year in Somerset this year and he’s a really nice third base prospect. He sprays doubles, hits for power, and gets on base. Offensively, there is a lot to like. Castillo is a well above average Double-A player and he’s only 23, so within the next two years, he could easily make the Pirates as a starting third baseman. He alone, one might think, could have netted the Yankees Clay Holmes.

But, somehow, the Pirates also fleeced the Yankees into giving them the star of their first place Scranton RailRiders team. Hoy Park has broken out tremendously this year and he’s another super contact hitter. Pittsburgh can pair him with Marcano and that would be a super infield in the making. Marcano and Park are both left handed hitters who smoke the shift.

I’m sorry for me and us all from a Yankee perspective, sort of.

Why on earth would Cashman trade such promising players for? Well, first of all neither Castillo nor Park were ever going to impact the Yankees big league team. Second of all, Holmes dominates right handed hitters and the Yankees needed to get somebody who can do this because it’s a big weakness for the Yankee bullpen. I won’t mention that Tampa Bay has a very balanced lineup. Instead, let’s focus on how few left-handed hitters Boston has. The Yankees do have six games remaining with Boston this year, so basically the Yankees traded two excellent players to help them deal with the Red Sox, a team they are a distant third place from.

Beyond Clay Holmes being effective at squelching right-handed hitters, he keeps the ball on the ground much higher than your average relief pitcher does (66% groundball rate compared to 55% league average, per Fangraphs). But there’s more! Holmes misses the barrel of the bat regularly and his 3.57 xERA, 3.71 DIERA, 4.06 FIP and 3.81 xFIP all point to his high 4.93 regressing as the season goes along. He’s a decent righty but again – he gets mauled by left-handed hitters. I mean – destroyed!

My friends in the scouting industry have told me that the Pirates have made quite the effort to get familiar with other teams’ minor league systems. This is a clear example as to why that’s a great idea for a rebuilding team!

Further takes on Marcano and Park from phone conversations with two scouts, both friends of mine, who must remain anonymous:

“Pirates have a huge start to the week. Marcano is a golden prospect and potentially a super utility guy.. He’s only 21 and he’s playing Triple-A ball. Tremendously fast hands, makes super good decisions, the ball jumps off his bat and he’s got gap to gap type power. He doesn’t swing at bad pitches and he’s getting stronger and he’s filling out. Marcano is scary good and the type of player, in today’s game, who is highly valuable.”

“Marcano is really versatile. The Pirates can move him all over the place. He could be the chef in the clubhouse, the laundry guy, you name it. He would do whatever the Pirates ask him to do. He’s a team first guy. Super coachable, great personality. Very humble. Marcano might even develop into a full time shortstop. He has range and a quick release. Arm is slightly plus also. I like him more as a shortstop, he’s just too athletic.”

“The Yankees don’t like Park but I do like him. What doesn’t Park do besides hit for power or extra bases? Yankee analytics didn’t like Park because he’s having a breakout year that doesn’t resemble his past outliers.”

“I like him primarily at second base and as a table setter. Park’s .240 ISP is a career high which doubles previous seasons but he gets on base like a machine and he can run.”

“Park is a super contact hitter. Has great recognition of the strike zone. Big bats behind him in the lineup will love him. The kid is a stat sheet stuffer.”

“Park was an Eastern-League All-Star in 2019 and he’s an All-Star this year with Scranton. Park’s only 25, so he’s just coming into his own. Pittsburgh has him for the prime of his career now, great trade on the Pirates behalf.”

“Park sees pitches very well and he has natural lift in his swing. He’s a contact guy with super good understanding of the strike zone. I think he may surprise a lot of people who think he’s strictly a utility player. I did a write up on him where I think he could easily be an everyday second baseman. He’s going to force his way to the big leagues, he can’t be denied.”

“Park needs an opportunity. He could stick as a utility player and I might be under-evaluating him because the guy understands the strike zone. On an analytics minded team that values guys who gets on base, Park might fit right in.”

“Park’s defense has the potential to be a tic better than adequate and he projects as a second baseman. Could he start? Depends on the team, but yes.”

“The Yankee offense could have used a contact guy. Park is strictly a singles guy but so was Ichiro. Park is surprisingly athletic and he can run the bases pretty well.”

Ben Cherrington grew very familiar with the Yankee system during his time as the Red Sox GM. Now that he’s with Pittsburgh, he’s been using the Left Field Lounge as deadline week headquarters. Pittsburgh is doing anything they can to cherry pick a player here or a player there and Cashman obliged them on Monday. The Yankees have Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu up the middle and they have Gio Urshela at thrid base so this trade wasn’t one many Yankees fans will dislike, because it seems these were spare parts.

Pirates fans will love the deal. In fact, most Pirates fans didn’t expect to get anything at all for the 28-year-old Holmes.

Yankee fans will like that he does have 2 1/1 years of control. Hopefully he’ll be a better bullpen piece than most of the other pitchers than Cashman has traded for recently.

For now, it looks like the Pirates were the easy winners in this deal.


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