Are the Pirates still persuing free-agent pitchers?
Pirates beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answers fans questions in this weeks inbox (You can read the entire transcript here). Here, she addresses the current pitching rotation.
Are the Pirates done pursuing free-agent pitchers? Can we expect any more help other than Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen? Neither of them seems to be a front-of-the-rotation guy. I certainly was hoping for more given the young talent in the field and the poor starting pitching performance last year.
The Pirates will contend that even if they don’t add any more starting pitchers this offseason, they will enter the 2011 season in better shape than they ended up last year. It’s hard to argue that given how bad the 2010 results were for the starters. Correia has potential to help stabilize the rotation, and Olsen gives the Bucs more depth for the back end of the rotation.
The truth is, though, that the biggest effect on the rotation can come not from the new additions, but the returning starters. Guys like Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton and Brad Lincoln are going to have to put poor 2010 seasons behind them and move closer to their potential. If improvements can be made from that group, the rotation can go somewhere. If they don’t, it’s going to be another long season.
Now certainly, adding another experienced and proven starter would increase the chances of the rotation making significant strides forward. But there just aren’t many options left. The best free-agent pitcher left was Carl Pavano, who is returning to Minnesota.
A more realistic signing would be Jeff Francis, who continues to look for a contract that includes a guaranteed roster spot. The Pirates, who would give Francis the opportunity to play under Clint Hurdle again, might offer that. Francis, who has had recent injury issues, is a another risky sign. But he would likely take a contract laced with incentives.