Greinke Signs with LAD; Dominoes to Fall?

The Pirates are in dire need of a starting pitcher. In fact, the depth chart on the team website only lists four pitchers in the starting rotation. Those hurlers are A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, and Jeff Locke. Burnett and Rodriguez are the leaders of the staff; two reliable veterans who should bring a lot to the table. McDonald, despite his tremendous first half, was demoted to the bullpen down the stretch; who knows which J-Mac we’ll see in 2013. Jeff Locke hasn’t done much to prove he’s worthy of a starting spot; he’s just 1-6 with a 5.82 ERA in 12 career MLB games.

It was reported Saturday night that Zack Greinke would be signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who apparently have an unlimited supply of cash. The deal is reportedly worth $147 million over six seasons, which would make him the highest-paid right-handed pitcher ever. Greinke, 29, entered the offseason as the most prized pitcher on the free agent market. Typically, players wait until the top free agent inks a deal before deciding where to sign, hence why there weren’t many big moves at the Winter Meetings.

With Greinke off the market, is it time for the dominoes to fall?

Here’s a look at some of the remaining free agent starters:

Anibal Sanchez – Out of price range; Dodgers interested in him, too.

Edwin Jackson – #EJaxToBucs failed last year; worthy of a second attempt?

Ryan Dempster – Mitch Williams suggested he’d be a fit for the Bucco rotation.

Kyle Lohse – Beyond the Box Score makes a case not to sign him.

Shaun Marcum – Seems like a decent add; drawing plenty of interest from other teams.

Francisco Liriano – His name has popped up multiple times as a fit for the Pirates.

Joe Saunders – Orioles still looking to re-sign the veteran southpaw.

Kevin Correia – Doubtful that Correia and/or the Bucs want a deal.

Carl Pavano – Wouldn’t be surprised to see NH take a flyer on him.

Jeff Karstens – Should not have been non-tendered by the Pirates; unlikely to return.

Mike Pelfrey – Non-tendered by Mets; appeared in just three games in 2012 (elbow).

Jair Jurrjens – Braves non-tendered him; 2011 All-Star said to have a dead arm.

Manny Parra – Non-tendered by Brewers; no thanks.

Tom Gorzelanny – Ex-Buc non-tendered by Nats; possible long-reliever/mop-up man.

John Lannan – Another Washington non-tender; no space for him in Nats rotation.

Who knows which route Neal Huntington will take. Keep in mind that a starting pitcher could be acquired via trade – closer Joel Hanrahan may be on the move (especially if Jason Grilli re-signs in Pittsburgh).

The starting rotation let the team down at the end of both 2011 and 2012, so it’s important to bolster the staff. There is a bit of help on the way (see: Cole, Gerrit) but that won’t be until mid-season at the earliest. The rotation is up in the air at the moment, but hopefully that changes in the coming weeks with some acquisitions.

Go Bucs

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Bucs Bits: Pirates News and Notes 10/9/12

Some Bucco links from around the web:

Around the MLB:

Postseason games on Tuesday:
- San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds, 5:30 pm
Ryan Vogelsong vs. Homer Bailey
- Detroit Tigers at Oakland A’s, 9:00 pm
Anibal Sanchez vs. Brett Anderson

Six prospects ranked in Top 100

MLB.com has re-ranked their Top 100 prospects, as well as the Top 20 for each team. Top 100 can be viewed HERE, and Pirates Top 20 HERE.

Here are the Pirates prospects that made the top 100 list, along with their 2012 stats:
8. Gerrit Cole, RHP
5-1, 2.55 ERA at Bradenton
3-6, 2.90 ERA at Altoona
1-0, 4.50 ERA at Indianapolis

16. Jameson Taillon, RHP
6-8, 3.82 ERA at Bradenton
3-0, 1.59 ERA at Altoona

34. Starling Marte, OF
.286 avg, .847 OPS at Indianapolis
.253 avg, .708 OPS at Pittsburgh

54. Alen Hanson, INF
.309 avg, .909 OPS at West Virginia

73. Luis Heredia, RHP
4-2, 2.71 ERA at State College

95. Gregory Polanco, OF
.325 avg, .910 OPS at West Virginia

Josh Bell, who was included in MLB.com’s preseason rankings, dropped from the list since he’s been injured since April. New to the list are Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco, who had breakout seasons for West Virginia, as well as young stud Luis Heredia.

Updated MLB.com top 20 Pirates prospects:
1. Cole
2. Taillon
3. Marte
4. Hanson
5. Heredia
6. Polanco
7. Josh Bell, OF
8. Jeff Locke, LHP
9. Justin Wilson, LHP
10. Kyle McPherson, RHP
11. Barrett Barnes, OF
12. Alex Dickerson, 1B
13. Bryan Morris, RHP
14. Nick Kingham, RHP
15. Wyatt Mathisen, C
16. Tony Sanchez, C
17. Victor Black, RHP
18. Willy Garcia, OF
19. Brock Holt, INF
20. Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP

A few of these players are currently on the big league roster (Marte (injured), Locke, Wilson, McPherson, Holt), while others still have a long way to go. Exactly half of the top 20 list consists of pitchers. Catching and middle infield is still a big hole in the system. Mathisen was just drafted this season, and Sanchez hasn’t done much in the minors. It’s great to see Hanson come out of nowhere and have an awesome season, but he’s still down in A-ball. Hopefully these players, especially the top prospects, can keep moving up through the system.

Read this for more info on the prospects, lists, etc.

Go Bucs

Angels interested in Correia; Dempster, Lester on Pirates’ radar

Just hours after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers, Kevin Correia‘s name is swirling around the rumor mill. according to Rob Biertempfel of the Trib, the Angels and Pirates have “discussed swap that would send a veteran pitcher to Cali.”  Correia allowed two earned runs on four hits on Saturday night with Angels’ scout Larry Corrigan in attendance.  The Bucs are seeking a “high-end prospect” in the deal.

The Halos rotation hasn’t been strong other than C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver, and Dan Haren is on the DL with a back injury. While Correia’s numbers aren’t great, he has won his past four decisions and is 5-2 with a 4.08 ERA in his last ten starts.

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Meanwhile, the Pirates have shown interest in a number of starting pitchers. Buster Olney reported on Baseball Tonight that Pittsburgh is a possible destination for Ryan Dempster, along with Boston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles Dodgers. MLB Trade Rumors noted that as many as ten teams are interested in the Cubs’ righty. Dempster threw six strong innings on Saturday, and extended his scoreless streak to 33 innings. He lowered his ERA to 1.86, which now qualifies as the lowest in the league. Chicago is willing to pay part of his salary if it means acquiring better prospects. They have scouted the lower levels of farm systems, and are most interested in young pitching.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Pirates have checked in on lefty Jon Lester, as well as Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Matt Garza, and Dempster. Cafardo notes that a deal is unlikely because the Bucs don’t want to part with Gerrit Cole.

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If the Pirates were to trade Correia, that could open the door to acquire another pitcher. All of these pitchers are upgrades over Correia. The Bucs have been interested in starting pitching upgrades, and Dempster, Lester, etc. are some of the best available. This may not amount to anything, but there will certainly be similar rumors floating around between now and July 31st.

In Neal We Trust.

Bucs Bits: Pirates News and Notes 6/15/12

Some Pirates-related news, notes, links, and more heading into the weekend:

- Bad news for pitching: Charlie Morton underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday and will be out for the next 12-18 months. Jason Grilli, who sat out the 2002 season because of T.J., said, “I feel horrible for him, but I know he’s going to be fine. He’s going to be stronger than ever.”

- Good news for pitching: Jeff Karstens threw a bullpen session yesterday at Camden Yards and is expected to begin his second rehab assignment on Tuesday with Double-A Altoona. Karstens said, “I’m in a good place right now, and hopefully all goes well and I’ll be back soon.”

- Lacee Collins, who wasn’t on TV in Baltimore, is officially gone from ROOT Sports, per Colin Dunlap of 93.7 the Fan. She’s no longer listed on ROOT’s website.

- According to Keith Law, top prospect Gerrit Cole touched 101 on the gun with his fastball, as well as 92 with his slider. Cole is finding consistency with the Marauders.

- Earlier this week, the Pirates signed catcher Wyatt Mathisen, their second round pick. He hit .433 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in his senior season of high school this spring.

- Yesterday, the Pirates signed supplemental first round pick Barrett Barnes (OF) and third round pick Jon Sandfort (RHP). In addition, the Pirates signed eight other draft picks over the past week.

- The Pirates are hosting their second “Social Media Night” of the season on Friday, July 20th when the Bucs face off against the Miami Marlins.

- Vote Cutch.

- The Bucs head into Cleveland this weekend for a three-game set with the Tribe. There are still a few tickets available on StubHub and the Indians website.