Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's Never Too Soon To Start Looking...

OK, the Pirates have their sights set on a RH outfielder with some pop and a vet starter for the bottom of the rotation. We're assuming that they're not looking at the top guns, and that leaves precious few ballplayers that won't want Jay Bay money for Jay Michaels performance.

We took a peek at the upcoming FA crop. Assuming they want to stay at the $5M or under mark, there's not that much out there.

Outfielders? Maybe Juan Rivera and certainly Cliff Floyd and Gabe Kapler are in their bracket, or Rocco Baldelli if he's able to play. That's a huge if. If the list gets expanded to the infield corners, Casey Blake and Hank Blalock should be on the radar, though Blalock has a club option and may not hit the market.

Pitching? The Big Unit? A popular choice, but probably still overpriced for the Bucs, though we'd love to see him in the locker next to Dirt Dog Doug. Do you think that would lift the Buc's intensity level up a decibel or three?

Maybe Freddy Garcia and Odalis Perez, or if they take a risk, McCandless Township's achy Matt Clement are in play. Clement's another big question mark, medically.

Now we admit we're just taking a grope in the dark. We really don't know how much they're going to allocate for free agency, and that will affect the list. But we see them trying to sign someone to a Xavier Nady priced contract, and not much more.

There's not a lot of depth to the pitching after the top dogs, unless you think Kip Wells looked good in a Pirate uniform. And as we saw last season, that gap drives up the going rate for arms. Teams like to lock up the middle of the rotation; it's the smart play.

But hey, it's fun to play GM. Look at the list and throw your log into the hot stove. It makes the off-season a lot more bearable, even if CC and Mark Teixeira don't sign here. Well, we can dream, can't we?


WilliamJPellas said...

I'd gladly take Casey Blake, though why he'd come here, I dunno. He's a bit older and wouldn't likely be an impact player for us for more than a couple of seasons, but he's versatile and experienced and better than most comparable players.

The other three OFs you mentioned, Ron, all have some ability, but all have had injury issues, especially Kapler. If memory serves he actually tore his Achilles tendon completely in half. Wasn't he completely out of baseball for a year or two as a result of that injury? Seems to me that he was.

Matt Clement would be worth a flier but not a big contract.

Randy Johnson, no way. Too old. But here's a name I'd love to see in Pittsburgh, and he's a Pennsylvania guy, and he's going for his 300th win. I'm talking about Mike Mussina. Even at 39 years of age, you bet yer bippy I'd overpay on a 3 year deal to get him in black and gold. Oh yes indeed. And with John Grabow and Matt Capps behind him in the 'pen, believe it or not he might still win a lot of games in the 'burgh even if the team continues stinking, overall.

I don't really care for Hank Blalock. I believe he's somewhat overrated and that his numbers were inflated by playing in that launching pad the Rangers call home. That said, even an average 3B like him would be quite a jump up from Andy LaRoche.

I hope the team re-signs Jason Michaels and Doug Mientkiewicz, though if I had to choose one or the other it would be Mientkiewicz, so the front office can take the $10 mil or so it would take to bring Michaels back and use it on a bigger hitter. (I'm thinking $10 mil for 3 years is about right for Michaels.) Let's not forget, either, that Nyjer Morgan looks like our fourth OF, and while he has zero power, he looked very good in almost other way this season. I don't know that it would make a lot of sense to bring Michaels back as well as Morgan when we've got Andrew McCutchen about to hit the bigs. In addition, at this point I'm assuming that Brandon Moss will make it back to 100% and also that Nate McLouth will continue his very good play for at least the next several years. Thus, I'd rather see the bucks go to a veteran 3B like Casey Blake than to a veteran OF, unless Moss is more or less permanently debilitated by his knee (which is possible).

Add Blake and Mussina to this Pirates team next year, bring back Mientkiewicz, promote Andrew McCutchen from the minors, add in continued excellence from McLouth and Doumit as well as a contract year push from Adam LaRoche, mix well with a pitching staff that can't possibly be as terrible as it was this year, and.....

Well, we'd be better, that's for sure.

Ron Ieraci said...

Just throwin' out some names, Will. Moose would be nice, but I think he'll end up a Yankee or hang 'em up. He's something like 30 wins short of 300, and he has a lot better chance of getting 'em with the Bronx Bombers behind him.
And I dunno about Kapler's injury history, but you're right about him taking time off. He coached college ball in 2007, maybe because of that Achilles.
I think Pittsburgh will zero in on just a handful or so of competent, but not elite, players. They're still in "finger in the dike" mode, not looking for a missing piece yet.

WilliamJPellas said...

Speaking of which, I've always liked Rocco Baldelli. But his chronic medical condition may mean his playing days are over.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, one of the great mysteries of baseball. He did come back August 10th, got in 28 games, hit .268 with 4 HR's in 80 AB's, and they're carrying him on the playoff roster.
Still, he mostly DH'ed, and if he's half-way back, Tampa Bay will keep him. I hope the kid recovers; he looked to be a helluva ballplayer.