Thursday, January 20, 2011

Swingin' Bunts...

-- C Tony Sanchez tweeted that his LASIK surgery today went quite well; he says his vision is already clearer. And he did wear contacts, previously unbeknownst to GW. Live and learn, hey?

-- LOOGY Javier Lopez agreed to a $2.375M deal with SF, avoiding arbitration. He went to the Giants at the deadline for OF John Bowker and RHP Joe Martinez. Bowker looks like a camp longshot while Martinez was sold to the Indians after being DFA'ed. A lefty in the pen would sure look good about now...

-- The Mets just signed RHP Chris Young; Carl Pavano reupped with the Twins; Jeff Francis went to KC; geez, the Giants even signed Jeff Suppan to a minor-league deal. About the only worthwhile arm left on the market belongs to Justin Duchscherer, and he just worked out for two AL clubs.

He'll hold another open audition next week. Word is JD is looking for a team he can start for; due to arm and hip woes, many suitors look at him as a bullpen option.

The Pirate efforts to improve the rotation may have begun and ended with Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen.


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WilliamJPellas said...

It definitely doesn't look good for the Pirates in terms of any additional outside reinforcements for the pitching staff. The whole key, as it so often is with pitchers, is health. If Correia and particularly Olsen can stay healthy, I have no doubt whatsoever that both will be better than the guys they replaced. Olsen probably has a higher ceiling than Correia, but both have enough of a track record that I think we could reasonably expect 12-14 wins and a 4.25-ish ERA from both of them if they can take the ball every fifth day. Even that kind of major league average production would make our horrendous starting rotation significantly better. Which it had better be, because it looks like Opie has miscalculated when it comes to the offseason free agent reliever market. Again, he did a great job last offseason, but he has yet to replace Ledezma, Carrasco, Dotel, and especially Lopez. It looks like a lot of other teams paid attention to what happened last offseason, and they have moved much more aggressively this time around to lock up the better pitchers, especially the better relievers.

Hopefully there will be enough reinforcements coming up from the minors soon enough that our lack of depth won't hurt too badly, but we're definitely thin at the moment, especially in the 'pen. Well, okay, we have a lot of starting pitchers kicking around, just very few good ones. So we're thin in the 'pen and in terms of quality starters.

Ron Ieraci said...

Actually, Wil, that's probably on purpose. They have a handful of guys that may be arriving as soon as mid-season, so to block them with mediocre arms would be counter-productive.

Pitching is expensive, and even dealing for a top arm is tough; the Pirate system is better, but not that deep yet that it can package three or four guys for a top gun.

And I can't really blame the FO for miscalculating the reliever market; it's really broken the usual limits for both contract amount and length this off-season. Whether that's a new reality or an anomaly, well, too early to tell.

WilliamJPellas said...

I do understand the idea that we have to have one or two open spots for the top minor league arms who figure to arrive at some point in 2011. But I still think we would be well served to have landed one more or less "sure thing" to plug into our starting rotation this offseason. Correia, I suppose, comes closest, but there are whispers about his shoulder and he's no worldbeater in any event. Olsen has more potential, but has also been hurt quite often throughout his career. Had we landed a younger veteran like Jorge de la Rosa or even a more or less reliable veteran like Carl Pavano, I'd feel a lot better about our rotation. Don't forget, too, that even if we ended up with a sudden glut of good young pitchers, we could still trade a veteran or two at the deadline to clear space. Call me paranoid, but after last season's debacle, and after being subjected to literally months of the worst pitcher in the universe in Charlie Morton simply for lack of any viable alternative(s), I still say you can never have enough pitching.

That, plus our 'pen still looks thin to me, especially from the port side. And the Lopez deal looks really, REALLY bad for Opie. He already got rid of the pitcher we got back for him, and as you say, Bowker looks like four-A fodder. Not nearly good enough for a veteran LOOGY who was traded to the future World Series champs in the middle of a pennant race. Huntington just can't do much of anything right when it comes to making trades with established big leaguers. He does much better with the draft and with trolling for scraps in the dumpster.

Anyway, it would take a best case scenario for there to be more than one or at most two pitchers currently in the minors to pitch well enough to displace anyone currently in our mediocre-at-best rotation. Obviously Rudy Owens is the fast tracker and he would figure to be here by mid-season. After him, it's a crapshoot. I still hold out hope for B-rad, but it looks like he has exactly one (1) major league pitch, which spells "bullpen" rather than "rotation". Morton is a lost cause and I never, NEVER understood the cult surrounding him. His minor league numbers were never anything special, and his big league statistics are terrible. That leaves guys like Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke, Justin Wilson (who I really like) and perhaps Donnie Veal. Veal, I believe, is a major league pitcher of some sort if he can recover from TJ surgery. But none of these are established and all will be rookies in 2011. Expecting more than one or two of them to legitimately be able to displace a current big league starter---even the mediocre ones the Pirates have---is expecting a lot.

Ron Ieraci said...

I think we're in agreement, Wil - The effort should be on landing a guy that's at least a dependable #3 guy if not better.

I'm just against then loading up on bottom-enders. Get enough arms for depth and maybe an upside guy or two that you can control.

One of the FO's problems is that they have such a revolving door situation with bringing in guys that I don't think the players get a very good evaluation.

Anyway, you're right about the pen; I think the market swing caught them unawares. Gonna make it tough, although they do have a bunch of out-of-option guys they could store away in left field.