Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bucs Tend To Housekeeping

The Pirates signed a few more players today, and no, none of them was named Manny or Rocco.

Minor league deals were made for shortstops Anderson Machado, Pedro Lopez, and Altoona LHP Corey Hamman. Latinos Jeffrey Infante, Carlos Vasquez, Jean Ozoria and Angel Reyes, all RHPs; LHP Eduardo Rodriguez; IF Leandro Mejia; and OF Jesus Vasquez were inked to play for the Pirates' Dominican League club.

The 24-year old Lopez has a bit of a pedigree to him. The Dominican was signed in 2000 by the White Sox at the age of 16, and by 2005 he had risen to the #9 prospect in their system. He got a cup of coffee with them that year, but by 2007, he was released from their AAA squad and taken in by the Reds.

Lopez was called up in July, but caught a pitch square in the puss and broke his cheekbone, which was wired shut. The Reds let him go after the season, and the Blue Jays claimed him. He spent the 2008 season in AAA, hitting just .236. Lopez became a minor league free agent at the end of the year, and here he is.

He has some good wheels, though he's not a base stealer, and was twice named the best defensive player in the Chicago organization. His career batting average in the minors is .275, and the Bucs are taking a gamble that he was gunshy after being beaned rather than totally lost at the dish. He projects as a potential utility guy in MLB, having played some second base, too.

Machado is 28, and hasn't seen any MLB action since 2005. He spent last season in the New York Mets' system, mostly at AAA, and hit .226. His lifetime minor league average is .228, and he's a pretty good glove man that provides organizational depth.

What do these two guys bring to the table? They allow Pittsburgh to fill the gap between Brian Friday and Brian Bixler in the organization. If we were Bixler, we'd keep our bags packed, especially seeing how the Pirates have now signed three shortstops and drafted another trio in the past eight months.

Corey Hamman, 28, went 9-9 with a 4.05 ERA for AAA Indy and AA Altoona last year, and will be in the middle of the Curve rotation or the back end of Indy's in 2009.

One other point we'd like to touch on is the hazy-looking Pirate plan, which has set off a blogosphere firestorm today.

We think the new suits started off with an open mind as to whether the team could play as constructed, and when they realized it couldn't, blew it up and started with the ABCs, laying a foundation through the draft and waiver wires to build the bankrupt minors to a point that it would eventually feed the MLB team.

The only mistake we see is that the team didn't share that thought with the fans, and that's causing a huge disconnect between the club and the casual ticket-buying public.

They should come clean, and tell the city that hey, by 2011 Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, Shelby Ford, Bryan Morris, Brad Lincoln, and Dan McCutchen will be at PNC if all goes well, along with whatever young guns from the current roster ride out the current storm, perhaps Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, Brandon Moss and a pitcher or three.

Promise the faithful a team that'll bust its hump (and a bunch of fireworks and bobbleheads) in the meantime. It may not put many more fannies in the seats, but at least they'll have laid a framework of transparency and maybe even trust to carry them into the future. Don't circle the wagons; that's happened way too often in recent times.

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