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.
Peter Gammons wrote an article several days ago about the “windows opening for the Marlins, Pirates and Royals” in which he said a quote I think should make Pirates fans happy. Here in Pittsburgh, we are aware of the great talent in the minors and those young Bucs are slowly making their way to the majors. (Evidence is Alvarez, Tabata, McCutchen, Lincoln, and Walker) But it really makes a difference when a guy like Gammons hints at light at the end of the tunnel.
“By mid-2013, Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen could well be stars of different kinds, Tony Sanchez could be a front-line defensive catcher and, if all goes well, the Pirates will be starting to see the fruits of their search for power arms, as opposed to the mediocre pitchers they selected at the top of the Drafts in the past decade.”
Chins up Pirates’ fans, 2013 and 2014 could be exciting years for the city of Pittsburgh.
The Arizona Fall league ended with the Scottsdale Scorpions winning the title defeating the Peo Javelinas 3-2 On Saturday. The Mesa Solar Sox finished six games behind the Champion Scorpions. Here is an update on how the Pirates players finished the season.
Brian Leach finished the season with a 0.00 ERA. In 10 innings pitched he allowed 11 hits and five runs (zero earned) with seven strike outs and seven walks.
Aaron Pribanic went 0-1 with a 2.00 ERA for the Solar sox. In 18 innings he allowed seven runs (four earned) and 18 hits while striking out nine and walking six.
Justin Wilson allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 19 hits through 16.1 innings. He struck out 16 and walked eight. Wilson ended the AFL with a 0-1 record and a 4.41 ERA.
Tony Sanchez finished with four home runs and nine RBI and a .206 AVG with the Solar Sox. A disappointing Fall League for Sanchez, but it was his first time behind the plate again since his jaw surgery.
Josh Harrison had a great Fall League for the Solar Sox. He finished with a .330 AVG and a .907 OPS. He hit a team leading 10 doubles and two triples with eight RBI in 22 games.
Jordy Mercer had 13 RBI and scored 10 runs in 20 games. He finished the season with a .267 AVG.
Andrew Lambo hit .274 for the Solar Sox with four home runs and a team leading 23 RBI. In 28 games Lambo had 29 hits, eight of them doubles.
According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, The Pirates are set to make the following four moves to Clint Hurdle’s coaching staff: Ray Searage as pitching coach, Gregg Ritchie as hitting coach, Jeff Banister as third base coach and Nick Leyva as bench coach.
Searage took over as the Bucs pitching coach when Joe Kerrigan was fired. Since then, players have made improvements and spoken out on how they enjoy his “old school technique” where he focuses on things one pitch at a time. (Brad Lincoln and Charlie Morton made huge strides while working with Searage)
Ritchie has spent the past three years as the Pirates minor league hitting coordinator. He has worked with the teams young players and according to sources was important to management. This will be Ritchies first job in the major leagues.
Banister has spent the past 25 years in the Pirates system and took over as bench coach after Gary Varsho was fired. Banister was also the other finalist for the Manager position.
Leyva served under Cito Gaston in Toronto since 2008. He is a former minor league player and has spent over a decade as a major league baseball coach.
The Pirates still need to fill positions for first base coach and bullpen coach, as well as the titles for infield and outfield instructors.
The Pirates Designated Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young for assignment on Friday.
This shouldn’t come to much surprise to Pirates fans –they all had a unproductive season and were due a pay raise.
Duke, 27, is coming off of his career worst season in the majors. He finished 2010 8-15 with a 5.72 ERA. Duke had a great rookie season –8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 2005– but since then he averages a 4.06 ERA each season. (Despite the numbers, Duke was a good guy. Him and his wife did many great things for the city of Pittsburgh. I wish nothing but the best for him and hope he does well with another team. Also, a healthy first child as his wife is pregnant.)
“I am truly thankful for the opportunity the Pirates have given me and genuinely enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh,” Duke said in a statement. “I understand this business decision and wish the Pirates and my friends still on the team the best of luck in the future.”
“We know that it’s not going to be easy to find a quality upgrade, and we know it’s going to be a challenge to find a guy who can pitch 180 innings,” Huntington said. “We plan to reinvest the money that was supposed to go to Zach Duke into the club, but we’ll take the same logical approach into signing a free agent as we did in deciding not to tender him a contract. Just as we made our decision not to offer a contract to Zach Duke, we’ll only spend that money if it is on the right player at the right price.”
Andy LaRoche was also part of the Jason Bay trade, who came from the Dodgers. He was the starting third baseman in 2009 but lost his job to Pedro Alvarez when he was brought up from the minors in July of the 2010 season. LaRoche batted .206 with four homers and 16 RBIs –primarily off the bench– last season.
“[It was] another difficult [decision] because Andy is a talented player,” Huntington said. “For whatever reason, it just hasn’t clicked here in Pittsburgh. In Andy’s case, I really believe he’s going to land on his feet somewhere and become a productive Major League player.”
Delwyn Young was acquired from the Dodgers and was used primarily as a pinch-hitter. Although he is capable to play several positions he wasn’t defensively good at any of them. Young hit .262 off the bench and .254 when he started games for the Bucs.
The Pirates added Tony Watson, Daniel Moskos, Kyle McPherson, Jeff Locke and Michael Crotta to the Pirates’ 40-man roster. It is currently full.
Outfielder Brandon Moss has signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies and an invite to 2011 Spring Training.
Moss was removed from the 40-man roster earlier this month and became a minor league free-agent.
Once a bright prospect of the Pirates, Moss was the main piece in the Jason Bay trade. Although he has shown success in the minors he has not been able to translate it to the majors: just .228 with 13 homers in 195 total games with the Pirates.
Neil Walker and Joel Hanrahan have met with new Manager Clint Hurdle since he was hired by the Pirates. And now, several other Pirates players are looking forward to working with him in the future.
Chris Snyder has the most experience watching Hurdle interact with his players. Snyder –before he was traded to the Pirates spent seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks and faced the Rockies 19 games each year.–
Synder saw the steady progression of the young Rockies under Hurdle’s watch.
“It was a steady progression for all those guys, each year they continually got better and better,” said Snyder, who came to the Pirates in a trade with the Diamondbacks July 31.
The Diamondbacks and Rockies shared the same spring training facility in Arizona and Snyder said he saw Hurdle throw batting practice, shag fly balls and interact with his players during warm-ups before games.
“Every time I looked up, I think I saw he had a glove on,” Snyder said.
Zach Duke and Jeff Karstens have not yet met Hurdle but have heard about his intensity.
“They said he’s a very upbeat guy, a very intense guy,” said Zach Duke. “He cares a lot about his players.”
“I’ve heard he’s an intense manager,” Jeff Karstens said, “which I think will be good. I could see him wanting to have fun but knowing when to really crack down on people.”
Neil Walker met his new skipper at the Steelers game on Sunday says the Pirates’ need a lot of guidance. (Something they obviously were not getting from John Russell)
You’re talking about two straight losing seasons of 100-plus [loss] baseball,” he said. “We all can do our job a little better, from pitching to defense to offense to managing to front office. Having a new mentality or having a different way of looking at the game is maybe something that he’s going to try to implement.”
“Us younger guys on the team,” Walker said, “we need a lot of guidance.
“Sometimes, when a manager knows to get on you or leave you alone and back off, or give you some encouraging words of confidence, I think that’s important.
“That’s the kind of thing he prides himself in.”
The Pirates have not been wasting time this off season and have been attacking the free agency market early and aggressively. General Manager Neal Huntington said he wanted to sign at least one starting pitcher for the 2011 season.
“The market early is always aggressive in terms of asks and in terms of what players are looking for,” Huntington said. “Clubs are trying to go as low as we can possibly go. It’s the dance that happens every off-season, and I don’t think that this year is any different given the market.”
The Bucs have been linked to pitchers: Jorge De La Rosa, Jon Garland, Brandon Webb, Justin Duchscherer and Jeff Francis so far.
“We would love to add a starting pitcher, but we have to do so with intelligence,” Huntington said. “Throwing an extra year or throwing an extra X-number of millions of dollars at a guy just to get a guy done doesn’t make financial sense for anybody. Some have more flexibility to do it than others. We have to be smart about it. There are going to be times where we have to stretch. But we have to stretch for the right reasons and not just out of desperation to get a pitcher or get a player.”
It is a rather thin free-agent pitching market this winter. There are some other arms that the Pirates could go after: Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez, and Kevin Millwood.
The Pirates can also get a starting pitcher by trades or from the Rule 5 draft. The Bucs need to be careful though, most times in trades teams want young prospects back in return. The Pirates could use their internal options to get a starter.
“We’ve got to take a look at our internal options and make sure we have full conviction that whoever we sign, if we sign somebody or trade for somebody and get that contract, that it’s going to be an upgrade from what we have,” Huntington said.
“Do we project them to make us better in 2011? That’s ultimately what is driving us. I know the very easy answer is that anyone can be better than who we had in 2010. But the reality is that you look at some of the ERA leaders in baseball this year, whether it’s the National League or American League, and there are a lot of guys in there that people didn’t think were going to be in there this year. Young players get better. They grow. Sometimes it happens quickly. Sometimes it happens after struggles.”
A few weeks ago I was contacted by the Regional Brand Manager of Pirate’s Booty, Matt Davis pertaining to my Pirates blog. He was at PNC Park discussing the ballpark carrying the popcorn snack and the Pirates referred him to my blog. (If you ask me, it makes sense to carry Pirates booty at PNC Park. Not only for the name, but because It’s delicious!)
Matt offered to send me some free goodies and boy was I shocked when the UPS man dropped off two boxes full of Pirate’s booty! Both big bags and small bags of all five flavors: Veggie, New York Pizza, Aged White Cheddar, Barrrrrbeque and Sour Cream & Onion.
I enjoy Pirate’s booty because it’s a healthy snack, it’s all natural and you can read the ingredients! (It’s tough finding healthy snacks at the ballpark).
Many thanks to Pirate’s booty and Matt Davis for the goodies. I can’t wait to try out the few flavors I’ve never had. =)
The Pirates are interested in bringing Veteran pitcher Chan Ho Park back in a Bucco uniform. There has been talk between General Manager Neal Huntington and Park’s agent.
“We’ve expressed some interest and he has expressed some interest,” Huntington said. “But again, it’s got to be the right fit for him, and it has to be the right fit for us. We’re working through what that might be or may not be.”
Park was designated for assignment by the New York Yankees on July 31, 2010 after allowing 11 earned runs in 28.1 innings pitched. He pitched much better for the Pirates though, just five earned runs in 23.1 innings. (Park also picked up his 124th win on October 1st –becoming the most winningest Asian born pitcher in major league history)
Park –who has spent 17 seasons in the big leagues– would be a huge asset for the Pirates young arms in the bullpen. If the Bucs re-sign him, it would not only to be a relief pitcher, but a mentor as well.
Towards the end of the season the Pirates players grew to like Park and celebrated with him on the field (and in the clubhouse) after he picked up his 124th win.
Park had this to say on the final day of the regular season:
“It’s a good team with a good future,” Park said. “If I play for this team next year, a .500 or winning record is going to be a big goal for this team. I want to be a part of that and have that. We have so much talent here.”