Here’s a hint:
For the record, the Bob Nutting-owned Pittsburgh Pirates traded away both Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow in 2018. What did the Pittsburgh Pirates get for Cole? From MLB.com:
After months of speculation, the Pirates dealt Cole, their No. 1 starter and former No. 1 overall pick, to the Astros for right-hander Joe Musgrove, third baseman Colin Moran, reliever Michael Feliz and outfield prospect Jason Martin.
Musgrove and Moran are still with the team. (Musgrove won 1 and lost 5 this year. Moran batted .247.) What did the Pirates get for Glasnow? From Wikipedia:
On July 31, 2018, Glasnow was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, along with Austin Meadows and a player to be named later, later revealed to be Shane Baz, for Chris Archer.
Here are Archer’s stats for Pittsburgh:
In 172 innings pitched over a season and a half with the Pirates, Archer has gone 6-12 with a 4.92 ERA. During that time, he’s given up 33 home runs.
Is it just the refusal to spend money?
I usually discuss Nutting’s baseball team under the “baseball on the cheap” heading (it matches my “newspapers on the cheap” heading) and this year the Pirates certainly fit the designation – the team started with the lowest payroll and finished with the worst record in baseball. However, in a year with expanded playoffs where below .500 teams made the playoffs, a low payroll did not keep a number of small-market teams from not only making the playoffs, but also winning the first round as the Washington Post recently pointed out:
Look who’s in the final eight in the MLB playoffs — the Oakland Athletics, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, who ranked 25th, 27th and 28th in payroll out of 30 teams this season.
So it’s not just payroll. How about incompetent management as another factor?