Wednesday, March 26, 2008

the buc stops here...

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We read the news the past 48 hours, ho boy, and the Bucs are ready to break camp with just one more move left to make.

They started the day when they traded AA starter Todd Redmond, 22, to the Braves for RH reliever Tyler Yates, 30.

Yates is a power arm, which the new boss loves to collect, and he did the job against right handed batters (.213 average.) Last year he was 2-3 with 2 saves and a 5.18 ERA. He's known as a wild thing, walking a batter every 2 innings in 2007.

He'll likely get a shot at being the 7th inning guy with Grabow in Pittsburgh. The brass decided they needed another late inning bullpen arm to close out games, especially from the right side. And despite his age, the Pirates control his contract for three more arbitration-eligible years.

Redmond showed some signs of competence in a very brief 2007 stint in AA, where he was slated to start this year. But he doesn't get many swings and misses and a lot of his balls leave the yard. He's a finesse guy that needs to spot his stuff to be effective. Redmond was 8-13 with a 4.39 ERA at Lynchburg and Altoona.

But he was considered one of only four starting pitching prospects the Pirates had in the low minors, so either the Bucs had serious misgivings about the back end of their bullpen to make them pull the trigger on this deal or the new regime thought less of Redmond than the old one did.

Still, not much to get excited about, unless you're Sean Burnett, Phil Dumatrait, Evan Meek or Franquelis Osoria. One is going to pitch for Indy while the other three head north. They lose Dumatrait or Meek if they cut them.

Burnett still has an option left. He's had two solid springs, pitching lights out, and is beaucoup popular with his teammates. But he's also lefty, new at the position of reliever, and not on the 40 man roster either, so... A tough postion to be in, but better to have too many arms than not enough. (EDIT: The Post Gazette reports that Burnett will start the year at Indy.)

The Pirates bought out Byung-Hyun Kim's contract, yay. He came to camp out of shape and stayed that way, so the team paid him $300,000 to go away and cut their losses. Jaret Wright became a free agent, and maybe he can work his way onto a MLB bullpen after a good spring at Pirate City without any arm problems.

Lefty Juan Perez of the gimpy elbow (he may need surgery) was released to clear a spot on the 40 man roster. The Bucs hope to sign him to a minor league deal.

Jonah Bayliss was scrubbed from the 40 man roster, too. He'll have to clear waivers before being shipped to Indy, and he's got a good chance of being claimed (EDIT - he wasn't, and he's been assigned to Indy.) Elmer Dessens found out you can't make the club in a tub, and Casey Fossum will join him in AAA.

Masumi Kuwata, a good guy on the wrong side of his career, retired today. He was offered a spot on the Indy roster, as well as a job coaching in the organization or scouting in Japan. But it was the majors or nothing. Kuwata told the Post Gazette "I think I would like to be a pitching coach or a manager someday. But I just want to be with the family now."

Veteran Hector Carrasco, 38, was sent to minor league camp after throwing pretty dang well. He had one of the top ERAs in camp (1.29) and struck out 8 in 7 appearances. Apparently he was just too long in the tooth for the Bucs to keep now, but will be a handy insurance policy and teacher in AAA if he doesn't move on to another roster, as we suspect he may.

SS Josh Wilson was DFA'ed and middle infielder Jorge Velandia (EDIT - Velandia asked for and was given his release) was sent to minor league camp. That means that Freddie Sanchez will be in a uniform and not a hospital gown on opening day, though we'll see how long that lasts. Bixler or Velandia may get a quick call back to PNC if Freddie can't throw for a prolonged period. OF'er Kevin Thompson was sent down, too, and Chris Duffy will join him, although he's on the 60 day DL now.

Luis Rivas, 2B, was added to the 40 man roster along with Doug Mientkewicz, so their ticket to the show was punched. Nate McClouth was crowned the winner of the CF battle royale, and Nyjer Morgan was told he was sticking with the big boys as his back up.

The 2008 Pittsburgh Pirate Roster:

SP: Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Paul Maholm, Matt Morris, Ian Snell

RP: Matt Capps, John Grabow, Damaso Marte, Tyler Yates and three of this four - Sean Burnett, Phil Dumatrait, Evan Meek, Franquelis Osoria. Burnett is probably the odd man out, for a variety of reasons unrelated to his pitching.

IF: Jose Bautista, Chris Gomez, Adam LaRoche, Doug Mientkiewicz, Luis Rivas, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson.

OF: Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Xavier Nady.

C: Ryan Doumit, Ronny Paulino.

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