Monday, January 28, 2013

That Old Gang of Mine...

OK, we're bored and don't expect much action before camp begins in three weeks. To kill time, we flipped through some recent signings, and hey - there sure are a lot of Neal Huntington era Buccos still floating around MLB and recently signed:

  • Adam LaRoche (WASH - 2yrs/$24M)
  • Ryan Ludwick (CIN - 2yrs/$15M)
  • Kevin Correia (MINN - 2 yrs/$10M)
  • Sean Burnett (LAA - 2yrs/$8M)
  • Joel Hanrahan (BOS - 1yr/$7.04M)
  • Ryan Doumit (MIN - 2yrs/$7M, extension)
  • Paul Maholm (ATL - 1yr/$6.5M)
  • Tom Gorzelanny (MIL - 2yrs/$6M)
  • Octavio Dotel (DET - 1yr/$3.5M)
  • Matt Diaz (NYY - 1yr/$2M)
  • Nate McLouth (BALT - 1yr/$2M)
  • Jose Veras (HOU - 1yr/$2M)
  • Brandon Moss (OAK - 1yr/$1.6M)
  • Chris Resop (OAK - 1yr/$1.35M, arb eligible)
  • Eric Hinske (ARI - 1yr/$1.075M)
  • Jason Bay (SEA - 1yr/$1M)
  • Steve Pearce (BALT - 1yr/$700K, arb eligible)

Jose Bautista is working in the middle of a deal with Toronto that pays $14M/yr through 2016. Javier Lopez is in the second year of a $8.5M deal with the Giants. It also doesn't show pre-arb folk like Pedro Ciriaco, who will compete with prospect Jose Iglesias in Boston for the starting SS job; Brock Holt, who will try to land a Bosox bench spot, and Donnie Veal, emerging as a potentially lethal LOOGY for the White Sox.

Of course, they aren't all looking at MLB paychecks.

A pack of ex-Pirates were signed to minor league deals this off season - Erik Bedard (HOU), Brian Bixler (NYM), Jeff Clement (MINN), Bobby Crosby (MIL), Juan Cruz (PHI), Zach Duke (WASH), Craig Hansen (NYM), Chris Jakubauskas (MIL), Daniel McCutchen (BAL), Xavier Nady (KC), Ross Ohlendorf (WASH), Garrett Olsen (OAK), Ronnie Paulino (SEA), Chad Qualls (MIA), Drew Sutton (BOS), Hisanori Takahashi (CUBS), Brandon Wood (KC), Tim Wood (MINN) and Delwyn Young (WASH).

And they're better off than these guys, who are still looking for a team: Rod Barajas, Matt Capps, Ronny Cedeno, Andy LaRoche, Lyle Overbay, Freddy Sanchez, and Chris Snyder. Jack Wilson is now a permanent part the unsigned list; he retired during the off season.

Three players took their talents across the Pacific - Nyjer Morgan and Casey McGehee went to Japan, while Dana Eveland will toss in Korea. They'll join Lastings Milledge, John Bowker and Rick Van Den Hurk in the Orient.

The point of the ramble? Actually, it just reinforces the point that Huntington didn't break up a world beating club. Even if he had the Dodger checkbook, there are only a couple of guys he let go over the years who would have made Pittsburgh a stronger club.

Our short list includes Jose Bautista, who was more a victim of Rule 5 jockeying than evaluation, Adam LaRoche, who would free Garrett Jones for right field but at a price, and Hanny, who also got a little rich for the Buccos' blood. Maybe add to list Dewey, who as a bench stick and #2 catcher has more value in the AL but can hit the ball no matter which league he's in, and Paul Maholm to anchor the back end of the rotation, depending on how (or if) Francisco Liriano performs. It also highlights the FO's sharp eye for identifying bullpen arms.

But it gives the Pirate philosophy of dealing for high upside but flawed prospects a big puffy shiner. They have exactly one reliever, Bryan Morris, on the 40-man roster after trading their inherited core of Jay Bay, Jack Splat and Steady Freddy. That's set them back a couple of seasons in rebuilding the club. In fact, the only prospect they've traded for who's had any real impact is James McDonald.

So don't hold it against them that they broke up the old gang. In fact, their go-for-the-gusto trade philosophy isn't the culprit, either. The Pirates simply need to evaluate talent, especially young talent, better.

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