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Pittsburgh Pirates Analyst Report: Off-season '09-'10


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Pittsburgh Pirates 2009 Season Review

Team Summary:

Record (62-99) 6th in the NL Central

TRADES! The Pirates 2009 season was one that could be best described as a season of change. And by change I don’t mean a few changes here or there, I mean a total roster overhaul. Of the 9 players who started opening day only the starting battery of Paul Maholm and Ryan Doumit, and third basemen Andy LaRoche remained at the end of the season. Nyger Morgan, Adam LaRoche, Erik Hinske, Jack Wilson, Freddie Sanchez, Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow, and Nate McLouth, who had just received a sizable 3 year contract in the offseason, were all jettisoned at some point during the 2009 season. And this fails to count Ronny Paulino, who was traded just before the season, Jason Bay, Demaso Marte and Xavier Nady, who were traded last season, and the Pirate mascot who was traded to Seton Hall College during the offseason. Well the last one is not true. All told every single starter from the 2008 opening day roster was traded before the end of the 2009 season.

Returns. As one might expect when you trade 13 players in two years you are bound to get some players back. The Pirates trades were met with mixed reactions by the national media. It was generally regarded as a lot of trades to bring capable bodies back to the organization instead of elite talented prospects. Some of parts of the 2008 trades worked out in 2009. Ross Ohlendorf, acquired in the Nady trade, compiled a 3.92 ERA, 1.23 WHIp, and a 11-10 record and was dominating at home. Jeff Karstens, also acquired in the Nady trade, was hardly dominating as a starting pitcher and was moved to the pen midseason. Jose Tabata, the third part of the Nady trade had a solid season playing for the AA Altoona Curve.

The Pirates acquired hard hitting Brandon Moss in the Bay deal, it’s just too bad he couldn’t find the ball, and ended up with a a .236 average, and didnt hit very hard .364 SLG. Andy LaRoche played a decent 3rd base this year, and improved immensely defensively , but was not the offensive force they thought he would become. He will be asked to move to second next year to make room for 2008 # pick Pedro Alvarez who raked in AA. UPDATE LaRoche may be a man without a home as the Pirates traded for second baseman Aki Iwamura from the Rays.

Among the “promising” talent returned in the Pirates many deals is:

Tim Aldersson, a RHP prospect with good control.

Gorkys Hernandez: Speed and Defense CF who will probably end up as a UTI

Lastings Milledge: The former Mets prospect may finally be getting it. The average is there (.291), but the OPS and power are not (.333 and .395) in 220 AB's.

Joel Hanrahan: Young closer might be ready to take the next step when Capps is dealt.

Ronny Cedeno: OH fans know about Cedeno who is turning into a classic no hit defensive SS.

Also found in the Pirates trades are:

Kevin Hart, Charlie Morton, Jason Jaramillo, Jose Ascaino, Jeff Clement, Aaron Pribanic, Bret Lorin, Nathan Adcock, and maybe some bats and balls.

What remains to be seen with the Pirates is whether ownership is dedicated to winning, or whether this was just another firesale from a Pirate team that schedules them every 5 years or so. While none of the trades really blow me away, I also can't look at them and say I see another Aramis Ramirez for Jose Hernadez and Bobby Hill trade where the pirates are left holding the bag. The difference between those trades and these trades is that the Pirates targeted young pitching and under performing skilled prospects this time, instead of giving away their players for practically nothing.

2009 Position by Position:

1st: Opening day starter Adam LaRoche was dealt to Boston midseason (get used to that line). LaRoche actually got through the first half with half decent statistics this year, which allowed the Pirates to get some value from him before he became a FA this offseason. Steven Pearce was finally given a shot to start everyday and put up .209/.296/.370. Probably enough to label him a UTI guy for the foreseeable future. Disappointing given he came up in limited time his first year '07 and put up a .294/.342/.397.

2nd: Opening day starter Freddie Sanchez was dealt to the Giants for Tim Aldersson midseason. Sanchez returned to his batting title form until suffering injuries midseason. He was the Pirates allstar after the first allstar, McLouth, was traded. He was able to stay healthy enough to get traded and was replaced by waiver pickup (there may have been a trade) Delwyn Young. Young adjusted admirably and was lighting everything up with a .350+ average until the final month and a half of the year when he dipped appreciably and lost a shot at the starting job next year.

SS: Opening day starter Jack Wilson was dealt to the Mariners midseason. Wilson was putting on his normal mediocre offensive showing and show stopping defensive for the first half of the year. Now that he is in the AL you should try and see an O’s v. Mariner’s game and see the most underrated defensive shortstop in the league. Ronny Cedeno who came over in the trade split time with Cruz and Vasquez. All three showed little offensive and above average defense.

3rd: One of only two positions to be manned by the same player all year. Andy LaRoche worked hard in the offseason on his defense and it showed. Unfortunately it probably slowed his offensive progression a little and he only hit .258/.330/.401 with only 62 RBI, 12 HR, and 26 doubles. Next season will be a watershed one for LaRoche who will be pushed by top prospect Pedro Alvarez and possibly Niel Walker.

C: Ryan Doumit began the season as the starting catcher and ended at the same place, on the same team. Amazing. In the middle however was a broken hand that derailed 2-3 months of his season. Doumit, an offensive force, slumped this season largely due to his injury and his obvious and allowable disappointment at the roster deconstruction around him. Two catchers filled in for Doumit while he was injured. Jason Jaramillo filled the roll of catch and throw guy (who hit a remarkable amount of doubles for a no offense catcher). Meanwhile Robinzon Diaz filled the roll of offense first catcher. Diaz hit .281/.307/.357. He only had 3 walks and 9 SO in 129 AB's so he gets the bat on the ball.

LF: Nyjer Morgan started the season as the everyday leftfielder and ....was traded midseason to Washington. Morgan had started to have a breakout season and continued it with the Nationals. But at age 27 he was a little long in the tooth to just be breaking out or to help the Pirates in the future. In return for Morgan the Pirates recieved Lastings Milledge whom Washington had given up on. Milledge had a decent end of the season, showed that he could be a clutch hitter at times, and really started to gel with the other new comer Andrew McCutchen.

CF: Nate McLouth started the season in CF after recieving a fairly lucrative 3 year contract. McLouth recieved a lot of faith from the Pirates and was ready to return it by putting up all star numbers. Unforturnately for him an offer came along that the Pirates couldn't refuse. I think most of the rest of the league would have though. Nate was shipped off to ATL for Gorkys Hernandez and Charlie Morton. Gorkys adds some depth to organizations minor leagues. Morton had mixed results in the starting rotation. All of this is just the back story though as the real story is the once and future king of CF for the Pirates Andrew McCutchen.

McCutchen was the story for the Pirates last year. He camde up and visibly improved every game and he is still just 21. McCutchen showed a good glove in the OF, speed on the basepaths, and delievered a 3 homerun game toward the end of the season. Reminded me a lot of how Markakis and Jones broke on the scene for the Orioles. This kid is going to be a star as they say, and is someone to keep an eye on in the future.

RF: RF the whole season until the final 2 months was a mess for the Pirates. At the beginning of the season Brandon Moss and Erik Hinske split time. Moss fought off injuries but did not fair well at the plate (STATS). Hinske was obviously not needed on a team that wasn't going anywhere and was traded to the Yankees midseason. All of this paved the way for Garrett Jones. Jones was signed on a minor league deal in the offseason from the twins organization and every GM who passed on him should be ashamed. He wins the Carlos Pena award for the player emerging from nowhere this year. Jones hit 21 homeruns in just under half a season for the Pirates while splitting time in RF and at 1B. Next year Jones is likely to move to 1B fulltime leaving a hole and another opportunity for Brandon Moss in RF.

SP: The Pirates cycled as many of the young arms they could through the starting rotation this year in attempts to see what would stick. Paul Maholm got off to a very strong start but the lefty fizzled as the season went on. Zack Duke returned to his pre-Jim Tracy self and posted some very nice GB numbers, and a decent season. Ross Ohlendorf looked good to great at home all season and was horrible on the road. One GM was sited as saying he and McCutchen are definitely players that can fill out a championship roster. Ian Snell and Tom Gorzellany struggled, were demoted, and then were traded. Jeff Karstens struggled, was demoted, and then wished he was traded.

Charlie Morton, Kevin Hart, Virgil Vasquez, and some others filled out the rotations spot starts and end of the year starts, most after being acquired in trades. Of the whole pool, no one was spectacular, however everyone who was atrocious has been traded or released. There are a lot of arms and a lot of competition for not too many spots behind Moholm, Duke and Ohlendorf next season.

BP: The bullpen had and has some promising young arms. Jesse Chavez was among the MLB leaders in appearances but was traded this offseason. The rays picked up a solid reliever who many think might be able to close eventually and is under control for awhile. John Grabow was good when with the Pirates as a lefty specialist and fill in closer, but was traded to the Cubs leaving a void in the Pirates bullpen. Matt Capps had an extremely shakey year, saw his usual control disappear and then saw his closers job disappear. Joel Hanrahan filled in with mixed results after coming over from Washinton. Donnie Veal was acquired in the Rule 5 draft and was stashed in the back of the bullpen until he was "injured." The Pirates retained his rights with the injury and plan on making him a starter next year. 2007's rule 5 draft pick Evan Meek looked extremely promising and has a power arm. He could be a solid 8th inning guy and maybe fill in closer, but was sidelined by injury. Former first round pick and one time starter was the other lefty in the bullpen and was effective until traded in the Nyjer Morgan trade to Washington.

2009 Draft Summary:

The Pirates caught a lot of flack in the first round for taking "signable pick" Tony Sanchez from Boston College. Sanchez has plus behind the plate skills and questionable hitting skills, but should be ready for the bigs pretty soon. An interesting pick given the Pirates had three capable catchers show they could play in the bigs this season.

The rest of the draft, much like the Orioles, was filled with players that were signed for above slot money.

Offseason Outlook:

The Pirates got off to an early start this offseason when they they traded Jesse Chavez to the Rays for Aki Iwamura. Given their last two seasons you could see a team who makes a few more trades to restock, or doesn't make any because they all traded all their players with value. Ryan Doumit's name has and will continue to come up in trade talks. Matt Capps will as well, as he was offered to the Brewers for Hardy, and may not be the best closer on the team. (Hanrahan)

General Manager Neil Huntington has already stated that the team won't make any huge splashes in free agency. The team doesn't have too many spots open. RF is a question mark and the team has expressed some interest in Scott Boras client Rick Ankiel. The pirates have put an emphasis on defense, so they may try and wait out the market and try and get a deal on a decent defensive player. Jose Tabata may also be a midseason option if they want to give Steven Pierce and Brandon Moss one more shot.

All in all this looks like it will probably be a slow and quiet offseason for the Pirates.

2010 Outlook:

CF: Andrew McCutchen

2B: Aki Iwamura

3B: Andy LaRoche / Pedro Alvarez (Midseason)

1B: Garrett Jones

C: Ryan Doumit

RF: ???? / Jose Tabata (Midseason?)

LF: Lastings Milledge

SS: Ronny Cedeno/ Brain Friday (Midseason?)

Bench: Pearce, Clement, Bixler, Moss, Vasquez

SP: Paul Maholm

SP: Zack Duke

SP: Ross Ohlendorf

SP: Kevin Hart

SP: Jose Ascanio/ Charlie Morton/ Brad Lincoln

BP: Capps Non-Tendered

BP: Hanrahan

BP: Meek

BP: SP competition loser

BP: FA lefty reliever

Being a fan of both the Pirates and Orioles has been both depressing (27 combined consecutive losing seasons) and exciting. And the two teams paths are quite parallel. Both front offices came out and stated this year that the time for rebuilding is over and the time for competing is upon us. In the NL central competing should be easier for the Pirates as they move forward. They have put together a lot of fringe players and will back them up with some solid prospects, but for the most part the minor league cupboard is bare and this team will hope for more boom than bust from a lot of their fringe players. They may not be competitive for a playoff spot next season but this team will give them a better shot at .500 than many of their teams for the past few years.

EDIT: More to come on the Pirates Draft last year.

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Pittsburgh Pirates 2009 Season Review

Team Summary:

Record (62-99) 6th in the NL Central

TRADES! The Pirates 2009 season was one that could be best described as a season of change. And by change I don’t mean a few changes here or there, I mean a total roster overhaul. Of the 9 players who started opening day only the starting battery of Paul Maholm and Ryan Doumit, and third basemen Andy LaRoche remained at the end of the season. Nyger Morgan, Adam LaRoche, Erik Hinske, Jack Wilson, Freddie Sanchez, Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow, and Nate McLouth, who had just received a sizable 3 year contract in the offseason, were all jettisoned at some point during the 2009 season. And this fails to count Ronny Paulino, who was traded just before the season, Jason Bay, Demaso Marte and Xavier Nady, who were traded last season, and the Pirate mascot who was traded to Seton Hall College during the offseason. Well the last one is not true. All told every single starter from the 2008 opening day roster was traded before the end of the 2009 season.

Returns. As one might expect when you trade 13 players in two years you are bound to get some players back. The Pirates trades were met with mixed reactions by the national media. It was generally regarded as a lot of trades to bring capable bodies back to the organization instead of elite talented prospects. Some of parts of the 2008 trades worked out in 2009. Ross Ohlendorf, acquired in the Nady trade, compiled a 3.92 ERA, 1.23 WHIp, and a 11-10 record and was dominating at home. Jeff Karstens, also acquired in the Nady trade, was hardly dominating as a starting pitcher and was moved to the pen midseason. Jose Tabata, the third part of the Nady trade had a solid season playing for the AA Altoona Curve, that is, when his wife was not abducting other people’s babies.

The Pirates acquired hard hitting Brandon Moss in the Bay deal, it’s just too bad he couldn’t find the ball, and ended up with a a .236 average, and didnt hit very hard .364 SLG. Andy LaRoche played a decent 3rd base this year, and improved immensely defensively , but was not the offensive force they thought he would become. He will be asked to move to second next year to make room for 2008 # pick Pedro Alvarez who raked in AA. UPDATE LaRoche may be a man without a home as the Pirates traded for second baseman Aki Iwamura from the Rays.

Among the “promising” talent returned in the Pirates many deals is:

Tim Aldersson, a RHP prospect with good control.

Gorkys Hernandez: Speed and Defense CF who will probably end up as a UTI

Lastings Milledge: The former Mets prospect may finally be getting it. The average is there (.291), but the OPS and power are not (.333 and .395) in 220 AB's.

Joel Hanrahan: Young closer might be ready to take the next step when Capps is dealt.

Ronny Cedeno: OH fans know about Cedeno who is turning into a classic no hit defensive SS.

Also found in the Pirates trades are:

Kevin Hart, Charlie Morton, Jason Jaramillo, Jose Ascaino, Jeff Clement, Aaron Pribanic, Bret Lorin, Nathan Adcock, and maybe some bats and balls.

What remains to be seen with the Pirates is whether ownership is dedicated to winning, or whether this was just another firesale from a Pirate team that schedules them every 5 years or so. While none of the trades really blow me away, I also can't look at them and say I see another Aramis Ramirez for Jose Hernadez and Bobby Hill trade where the pirates are left holding the bag. The difference between those trades and these trades is that the Pirates targeted young pitching and under performing skilled prospects this time, instead of giving away their players for practically nothing.

2009 Position by Position:

1st: Opening day starter Adam LaRoche was dealt to Boston midseason (get used to that line). LaRoche actually got through the first half with half decent statistics this year, which allowed the Pirates to get some value from him before he became a FA this offseason. Steven Pearce was finally given a shot to start everyday and put up .209/.296/.370. Probably enough to label him a UTI guy for the foreseeable future. Disappointing given he came up in limited time his first year '07 and put up a .294/.342/.397.

2nd: Opening day starter Freddie Sanchez was dealt to the Giants for Tim Aldersson midseason. Sanchez returned to his batting title form until suffering injuries midseason. He was the Pirates allstar after the first allstar, McLouth, was traded. He was able to stay healthy enough to get traded and was replaced by waiver pickup (there may have been a trade) Delwyn Young. Young adjusted admirably and was lighting everything up with a .350+ average until the final month and a half of the year when he dipped appreciably and lost a shot at the starting job next year.

SS: Opening day starter Jack Wilson was dealt to the Mariners midseason. Wilson was putting on his normal mediocre offensive showing and show stopping defensive for the first half of the year. Now that he is in the AL you should try and see an O’s v. Mariner’s game and see the most underrated defensive shortstop in the league. Ronny Cedeno who came over in the trade split time with Cruz and Vasquez. All three showed little offensive and above average defense.

3rd: One of only two positions to be manned by the same player all year. Andy LaRoche worked hard in the offseason on his defense and it showed. Unfortunately it probably slowed his offensive progression a little and he only hit .258/.330/.401 with only 62 RBI, 12 HR, and 26 doubles. Next season will be a watershed one for LaRoche who will be pushed by top prospect Pedro Alvarez and possibly Niel Walker.

C: Ryan Doumit began the season as the starting catcher and ended at the same place, on the same team. Amazing. In the middle however was a broken hand that derailed 2-3 months of his season. Doumit, an offensive force, slumped this season largely due to his injury and his obvious and allowable disappointment at the roster deconstruction around him. Two catchers filled in for Doumit while he was injured. Jason Jaramillo filled the roll of catch and throw guy (who hit a remarkable amount of doubles for a no offense catcher). Meanwhile Robinzon Diaz filled the roll of offense first catcher. Diaz hit .281/.307/.357. He only had 3 walks and 9 SO in 129 AB's so he gets the bat on the ball.

LF: Nyjer Morgan started the season as the everyday leftfielder and ....was traded midseason to Washington. Morgan had started to have a breakout season and continued it with the Nationals. But at age 27 he was a little long in the tooth to just be breaking out or to help the Pirates in the future. In return for Morgan the Pirates recieved Lastings Milledge whom Washington had given up on. Milledge had a decent end of the season, showed that he could be a clutch hitter at times, and really started to gel with the other new comer Andrew McCutchen.

CF: Nate McLouth started the season in CF after recieving a fairly lucrative 3 year contract. McLouth recieved a lot of faith from the Pirates and was ready to return it by putting up all star numbers. Unforturnately for him an offer came along that the Pirates couldn't refuse. I think most of the rest of the league would have though. Nate was shipped off to ATL for Gorkys Hernandez and Charlie Morton. Gorkys adds some depth to organizations minor leagues. Morton had mixed results in the starting rotation. All of this is just the back story though as the real story is the once and future king of CF for the Pirates Andrew McCutchen.

McCutchen was the story for the Pirates last year. He camde up and visibly improved every game and he is still just 21. McCutchen showed a good glove in the OF, speed on the basepaths, and delievered a 3 homerun game toward the end of the season. Reminded me a lot of how Markakis and Jones broke on the scene for the Orioles. This kid is going to be a star as they say, and is someone to keep an eye on in the future.

RF: RF the whole season until the final 2 months was a mess for the Pirates. At the beginning of the season Brandon Moss and Erik Hinske split time. Moss fought off injuries but did not fair well at the plate (STATS). Hinske was obviously not needed on a team that wasn't going anywhere and was traded to the Yankees midseason. All of this paved the way for Garrett Jones. Jones was signed on a minor league deal in the offseason from the twins organization and every GM who passed on him should be ashamed. He wins the Carlos Pena award for the player emerging from nowhere this year. Jones hit 21 homeruns in just under half a season for the Pirates while splitting time in RF and at 1B. Next year Jones is likely to move to 1B fulltime leaving a hole and another opportunity for Brandon Moss in RF.

SP: The Pirates cycled as many of the young arms they could through the starting rotation this year in attempts to see what would stick. Paul Maholm got off to a very strong start but the lefty fizzled as the season went on. Zack Duke returned to his pre-Jim Tracy self and posted some very nice GB numbers, and a decent season. Ross Ohlendorf looked good to great at home all season and was horrible on the road. One GM was sited as saying he and McCutchen are definitely players that can fill out a championship roster. Ian Snell and Tom Gorzellany struggled, were demoted, and then were traded. Jeff Karstens struggled, was demoted, and then wished he was traded.

Charlie Morton, Kevin Hart, Virgil Vasquez, and some others filled out the rotations spot starts and end of the year starts, most after being acquired in trades. Of the whole pool, no one was spectacular, however everyone who was atrocious has been traded or released. There are a lot of arms and a lot of competition for not too many spots behind Moholm, Duke and Ohlendorf next season.

BP: The bullpen had and has some promising young arms. Jesse Chavez was among the MLB leaders in appearances but was traded this offseason. The rays picked up a solid reliever who many think might be able to close eventually and is under control for awhile. John Grabow was good when with the Pirates as a lefty specialist and fill in closer, but was traded to the Cubs leaving a void in the Pirates bullpen. Matt Capps had an extremely shakey year, saw his usual control disappear and then saw his closers job disappear. Joel Hanrahan filled in with mixed results after coming over from Washinton. Donnie Veal was acquired in the Rule 5 draft and was stashed in the back of the bullpen until he was "injured." The Pirates retained his rights with the injury and plan on making him a starter next year. 2007's rule 5 draft pick Evan Meek looked extremely promising and has a power arm. He could be a solid 8th inning guy and maybe fill in closer, but was sidelined by injury. Former first round pick and one time starter was the other lefty in the bullpen and was effective until traded in the Nyjer Morgan trade to Washington.

2009 Draft Summary:

The Pirates caught a lot of flack in the first round for taking "signable pick" Tony Sanchez from Boston College. Sanchez has plus behind the plate skills and questionable hitting skills, but should be ready for the bigs pretty soon. An interesting pick given the Pirates had three capable catchers show they could play in the bigs this season.

The rest of the draft, much like the Orioles, was filled with players that were signed for above slot money.

Offseason Outlook:

The Pirates got off to an early start this offseason when they they traded Jesse Chavez to the Rays for Aki Iwamura. Given their last two seasons you could see a team who makes a few more trades to restock, or doesn't make any because they all traded all their players with value. Ryan Doumit's name has and will continue to come up in trade talks. Matt Capps will as well, as he was offered to the Brewers for Hardy, and may not be the best closer on the team. (Hanrahan)

General Manager Neil Huntington has already stated that the team won't make any huge splashes in free agency. The team doesn't have too many spots open. RF is a question mark and the team has expressed some interest in Scott Boras client Rick Ankiel. The pirates have put an emphasis on defense, so they may try and wait out the market and try and get a deal on a decent defensive player. Jose Tabata may also be a midseason option if they want to give Steven Pierce and Brandon Moss one more shot.

All in all this looks like it will probably be a slow and quiet offseason for the Pirates.

2010 Outlook:

CF: Andrew McCutchen

2B: Aki Iwamura

3B: Andy LaRoche / Pedro Alvarez (Midseason)

1B: Garrett Jones

C: Ryan Doumit

RF: ???? / Jose Tabata (Midseason?)

LF: Lastings Milledge

SS: Ronny Cedeno/ Brain Friday (Midseason?)

Bench: Pearce, Clement, Bixler, Moss, Vasquez

SP: Paul Maholm

SP: Zack Duke

SP: Ross Ohlendorf

SP: Kevin Hart

SP: Jose Ascanio/ Charlie Morton/ Brad Lincoln

BP: Capps

BP: Hanrahan

BP: Meek

BP: SP competition loser

BP: FA lefty reliever

Being a fan of both the Pirates and Orioles has been both depressing (27 combined consecutive losing seasons) and exciting. And the two teams paths are quite parallel. Both front offices came out and stated this year that the time for rebuilding is over and the time for competing is upon us. In the NL central competing should be easier for the Pirates as they move forward. They have put together a lot of fringe players and will back them up with some solid prospects, but for the most part the minor league cupboard is bare and this team will hope for more boom than bust from a lot of their fringe players. They may not be competitive for a playoff spot next season but this team will give them a better shot at .500 than many of their teams for the past few years.

EDIT: More to come on the Pirates Draft last year.

Wonderful report,... this is the example of what our Analysts can do. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

A quick roundup of Pirates activity in the winter meetings:

  • signed reliever Vinnie Chulk to a minor league deal;
  • signed SS Bobby Crosby (1 year, $1.5M);
  • took OF John Raynor (Marlins) in the first round of the Rule 5 draft;
  • took SS Rodolfo Cardona (Orioles) in the minor league round of the Rule 5 draft

GM Neal Huntington also reportedly fielded offers for C Ryan Doumit from several teams, chief among them the Blue Jays. Coming off a down year and a wrist injury, I doubt Doumit gets dealt during the off-season, though I likewise doubt he'll be a Pirate one year from now.

Regarding the two most noteworthy items, above:

  • Crosby well and truly stinks, but he's ostensibly being brought in as a UTI guy, to light a fire under Ronny Cedeno (who is apparently prone to motivational lapses), and, perhaps, more cynically, as a sop to casual fans ("Hey, look, we signed a former ROY!"). What's most telling about the Crosby signing, in my opinion, is just how thoroughly the organization has soured on Brian Bixler, WHO JUST LOST THE BACKUP SS JOB ON THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES TO BOBBY FARKIN' CROSBY. Think about that for a moment.
  • The Raynor selection was unexpected (almost everyone had them snagging P Craig Baker from the Rockies), and his pick only further muddies the waters in an over-crowded outfield ... but that said, I like this pick a lot. Beat out by Cameron Maybin for a job with the Marlins last spring, he struggled at AAA for much of 2009, but is only a year removed from posting an .891 OPS at AA; the year before, he demolished Sally League pitching en route to being named league MVP with a .948 OPS. Great speed, good on-base skills, line drive power, strikes out a bit too much and perhaps a shade too old for his level ... still, you can pencil him in as the Pirates 4th OF in 2010, which should mercifully close the chapter on the Brandon Moss era.
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A quick roundup of Pirates activity in the winter meetings:
  • signed reliever Vinnie Chulk to a minor league deal;
  • signed SS Bobby Crosby (1 year, $1.5M);
  • took OF John Raynor (Marlins) in the first round of the Rule 5 draft;
  • took SS Rodolfo Cardona (Orioles) in the minor league round of the Rule 5 draft

GM Neal Huntington also reportedly fielded offers for C Ryan Doumit from several teams, chief among them the Blue Jays. Coming off a down year and a wrist injury, I doubt Doumit gets dealt during the off-season, though I likewise doubt he'll be a Pirate one year from now.

Regarding the two most noteworthy items, above:

  • Crosby well and truly stinks, but he's ostensibly being brought in as a UTI guy, to light a fire under Ronny Cedeno (who is apparently prone to motivational lapses), and, perhaps, more cynically, as a sop to casual fans ("Hey, look, we signed a former ROY!"). What's most telling about the Crosby signing, in my opinion, is just how thoroughly the organization has soured on Brian Bixler, WHO JUST LOST THE BACKUP SS JOB ON THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES TO BOBBY FARKIN' CROSBY. Think about that for a moment.
  • The Raynor selection was unexpected (almost everyone had them snagging P Craig Baker from the Rockies), and his pick only further muddies the waters in an over-crowded outfield ... but that said, I like this pick a lot. Beat out by Cameron Maybin for a job with the Marlins last spring, he struggled at AAA for much of 2009, but is only a year removed from posting an .891 OPS at AA; the year before, he demolished Sally League pitching en route to being named league MVP with a .948 OPS. Great speed, good on-base skills, line drive power, strikes out a bit too much and perhaps a shade too old for his level ... still, you can pencil him in as the Pirates 4th OF in 2010, which should mercifully close the chapter on the Brandon Moss era.

Thanks for the update on the winter meetings. It should be noted that Pittsburgh now has two players with the last name of Crosby and who were rookie of the year. The sad thing is Sidney may be the better player in both sports.

Brandon Moss' failure to develop is a real knock on the Bay trade which might not yield anything but a league average Andy LaRoche.

Also:

-- Matt Capps was non-tendered.

A shocker for some. He was going to make near 4 million in salary in '10 and wasn't worth it. Joel Hanrahan, acquired in the deal with Washington, was already surpassing Capps at the end of last year. Look for the Pirates to try and resign him for something around 2.5 million. Evan Meek, if healthy, could also be a closer.

-- The Pirates were also tied to Juan Pierre earlier in the offseason.

Raynor probably fills that roll if he makes the team. It never made sense that Pirates would be interested in Pierre because of his cost, and the fact that they just traded away a Pierre clone - Nyjer Morgan.

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Donnie Veal was acquired in the Rule 5 draft and was stashed in the back of the bullpen until he was "injured." The Pirates retained his rights with the injury and plan on making him a starter next year.

Lets all hope that doesn't happen with Steve Johnson this year. The only chink in the armor for AM's plans.

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Lets all hope that doesn't happen with Steve Johnson this year. The only chink in the armor for AM's plans.

If the Pirates had drafted him, and I am suprised they didn't, then I would be worried that would be the case as they have done it in back to back years with Meek and Veal.

Meek was a good pick up two years ago, and is a closer candidate this year.

The interesting story about Meek was he was drafted and in their first 10 games the Pirates had 3 or 4 extra inning games, including I think a 15 and 14 inning affair. They just couldn't hide Meek in those games and he was the last guy out of the BP, losing both games. Welcome to the bigs kid!

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The Pirates signed the incomprable Javier Lopez (the pitcher).

Orioles fans would be familiar with Lopez from his time in Boston. And when I say that he is incomprable I really mean it. Never before have I seen a pitcher been so bad with such a good ERA.

Last year Lopez had a 5.8 K/9 rate and a 4.2 BB/9 rate and still managed a 2.70 ERA. Who know how he does it, but if he can bottle it then he can give careers back to a number of failed pitchers. Daniel Cabrera im look at you!

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