Bucs rotation Duke-less, rumors on De La Rosa & Greinke
Pirates Beat Reporter Jenifer Langosch’s weekly chat where she discusses the Bucs rotation without Duke, as well as De La Rosa and Greinke rumors. You can read the entire chat transcript here.
With the release of Zach Duke, at this point, how do you see the Pirates’ starting rotation setting up for 2011?
It’s hard to project a 2011 rotation before we know if the Pirates are successful in their pursuits to add at least one starting pitcher this winter. The outcome of those offseason attempts will determine the rotation’s makeup.
That said, three internal candidates appear set: James McDonald, Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf. Other internal candidates include Brad Lincoln, Daniel McCutchen, Charlie Morton, Brian Burres and Jeff Karstens. Kevin Hart may be ready to pitch by the start of the season, but he may fall into a relief role after missing last season.
There are reports that the Pirates are targeting Jorge De La Rosa, who is also being looked at by teams with bigger budgets and who is likely to get upwards of $11 million. What is so attractive about a pitcher who has only shown two seasons of marginally above-average baseball at the age of 29?
This hits precisely on the debates that the Pirates will be having all offseason. It’s no secret that the Pirates need starting pitching help and would prefer to bring in at least one new pitcher instead of relying solely on improvements from their internal options. This isn’t the year to be looking for pitching, however. Outside of Cliff Lee, the options aren’t all that appealing.
It’s because of the lack of depth in the market that you are hearing about the Pirates’ interest in someone like De La Rosa. It’s also because of this depth that you are hearing De La Rosa’s demands are higher than he might really be worth. De La Rosa’s value increases simply by a lack of better options. And my guess is that if he wants to command more than a three-year deal with a salary of at least $11 million a year, some desperate club will give it to him.
Now, is De La Rosa really worth that money? His best season came in ’09, which is also the only year in which he has thrown more than 130 innings. He’s prone to giving up too many walks and homers, but he could easily be the Pirates’ strikeout leader if inserted into the rotation. Remember, too, that De La Rosa has been pitching in hitter-friendly Coors Field in recent years.
He put up strong numbers in the second half of the year — opponents scored more than three earned runs off him only once in his final 14 starts — but consistency hasn’t been De La Rosa’s trademark through the years. I don’t think there’s any question that the lefty would improve the Pirates’ rotation. However, the Pirates have to ultimately decide if his price tag is really worth the long-term investment.
I’ve been watching and reading a lot of rumors, and one rumor mentioned in passing is how Zack Greinke fits better in a smaller market, and Pittsburgh seems the kind of club he could make a difference with. Any chance we could trade for Greinke?
It’s highly doubtful. There’s no question that the Pirates would love to add Greinke to their rotation. But the cost is probably too high. The Royals are not in a position where they have to deal their ace, so they have the luxury of asking a lot for him. For a pitcher of Greinke’s caliber, that means looking for high-ceiling prospects or young players.
It just doesn’t seem to make sense for the Pirates to give up one of their best prospects for Greinke, who is set to become a free agent after the 2012 season. The Pirates wouldn’t have an issue paying Greinke the $27 million he’s due the next two years, but do you pay that and mortgage some of your best Minor League talents for a potential two-year rental? It doesn’t make long-term sense.
And then there’s this: Greinke has a partial no-trade clause. While it’s believed that Greinke put a lot of big-market clubs on that list, Pittsburgh could always be on it as well.