Do things looks like they're falling in place for the Bucs? Well, the jigsaw is taking shape, but the FO appears satisfied to add along the edges now that Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes are in the fold, filling their most critical holes.
Derrik Lee, by all reports, will suit up again next year somewhere, but not until Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder sign and open the market for him and Carlos Pena. The odds of either falling to Pittsburgh are slim, so it looks like a platoon between Garrett Jones and Nick Evans/Matt Hague/Jake Fox is in the cards.
The Pedro Alvarez saga continues to twist and turn. The FO told the media that they're in touch with his trainer, and that El Toro won't play any winter ball. We're sorta surprised that they're not taking a more active role in his winter PT program, especially after cleaning out the training staff in the post-season.
They've admitted that the biggest impact improvement they could make would be for Pedro to live up to his clippings, but it does seem like they're putting Alvarez on a shorter leash in 2012. Mark DeRosa & Ian Stewart are still on their radar, and internally, Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison could get a look in the spring. The management is at least considering Plan B. But make no mistake, the job is still Alvarez's to lose. That will be the storyline in Florida and the early part of the season.
The Ryan Kadish/Nate McLouth rumors mean two things: One, that they're still not convinced Alex Presley is an everyday player - he did have rough splits last season - so they're looking for insurance, and they're likewise leery of bringing up Gorkys Hernandez, who now has to feel Starling Marte hot on his tail. We're not exactly sure why every other club's prospects look so good to the FO while their home-grown guys have to sit and simmer, but that's consistently been the MO during the Coonelly/Huntington era.
The pitching rotation still needs upgraded, but the talk so far is to add another back-end, inning-eating veteran hurler. It would seem to make sense to look for a number two type arm to hold the fort for a couple of years until guys like Gerritt Cole, Jamison Taillon and Luis Hernadez make their Pittsburgh debuts, but doesn't seem to be the direction they're headed.
It's likely that they'd have to overpay, ala the Nats and Jayson Werth, to attract that kind of talent and so they're understandably gun shy. One big albatross contract can hold back a low-revenue team like Pittsburgh for a couple of seasons or more. Even the deep pocket Cubs have big problems digging out from under bad commitments.
Watch to see if they add to the bullpen; five guys are up for arb from the relief corps, and they all may not be tendered; Jose Veras at least is on the bubble. But that's a tough read. The FO has been content to wait out the market to add those pieces.
The Rule V draft concludes the meetings, and the FO has remained non-committal as to whether they plan to dive into that pool again. The 40-man roster is full, so someone has to go if they do opt to participate. They could lose a pitcher like Nathan Baker, one of a couple of relievers, or outfielder Andrew Lambo, who is raking in winter ball, to the draft.
There is one possibility of a big move, and that's through a trade. No smoke yet, but they will listen to offers for Hanny and have a small crowd of outfielders and lower level arms for less splashy deals or as add-ins.
One positive thing did happen today. Pirates Director of Media Relations Jim Trdinich was named the winner
of the MLB's 2011 Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence. He's been tub thumping for the Pirates for 23 years, and that's one long, thankless stretch.