A month or two ago I was nervous. The Pirates bullpen looked to be in shambles after a horrendous year in 2009.
There were injuries and youngsters that set the club back. It seemed that when the offense got the job done, a lead was blown thanks to a shaky bullpen.
Not to mention four of the mainstays in the bullpen were traded during the year. It was no secret that it was definitely an area of discussion that needed to be strongly discussed.
The offf season of 2009 gave Pirate fans mixed feelings. While acquiring Akinori Iwamura from the Rays, Pittsburgh also sent one of our best relievers, Jesse Chavez to Tampa Bay.
The Matt Capps situation was also ugly. Capps had a bad year, but I did not feel it was warrented to non-tender the guy after a one dismal year. But anywho, you cannot change the past.
Since that moment the Bucs have added a considerable number of relief pitchers.
Brian Bass, Vinnie Chulk and Jack Taschner were anything but groundbreaking but nonthesless a nice quantity to start re-building the pen.
Then things started to bulk up.
Javier Lopez, the lefty veteran, gives the Bucs a presence. He has been with the Red Sox and Rockies over the past five years and has had solid stints at each stop. It was not a good year for Lopez in Boston last season. He was injured for a bulk of the time while only pitching in 14 games. However, while we dumped Capps because of a bad year we picked up another guy who had a bad year. Lopez is a cheaper option and very well could bounce back quickly.
Brendan Donnelly joined the mix recently. He is 38 and also will be a veteran to accompany Lopez in a relatively young bullpen. He is well-seasoned and well mediocre. However, he is indeed the epitome of a journey man. Pitching for 18 different professional organization since being drafted by the White Sox in 1992, he is surely not short on experience. I’m hoping he can overpower hitters and be a viable long inning guy.
The American League leader in innings pitched is now a Pirate. D.J. Carrasco joins the pe as a fresh face. He looks to be building a solid career and should be welcomed full heartedly in Pittsburgh. Various Whote Sox blogs reportedly were very sad to see him go.
The Grandaddy of them All. Sorry Rose Bowl, just stole that from a very exciting bowl game and I apoligize for that because I am a devout college football fan. And if the Rose Bowl committee knew I made that reference to Octavio Dotel they may sue me. I was happy to see us pursue this aging veteran. To actually sign him to a one year deal sent shockwaves through Pittsburgh. Yes his best years are behind him but he still has gas left in the tank. He is said to be the frontrunner for the closer position even after not being the closer for the White Sox last year. He made 6 million last year, but will probably make less in Pittsburgh.
In closing, it looks like the Pirates have completed their off season spending spree. Maybe. The pieces are there with the rebuilt and even stronger bullpen. The bench is filling out and viable talent. There will still be a rat race for the final spots in the starting rotation and that is where Ben Sheets comes in.
It was reported that the Pirates had representatives watching Sheets’ throwing session earlier this week. It was been well documented that the Pirates are not in the full hunt for Sheets mostly because of monetary reasons. He is asking for 10 million a year which may scare even the top teams away after his injury problems. However, the Pirates may be willing to spend a pretty penny to make a splash before Spring Training begins. Just like the MLB did to the Marlins a few weeks ago, the Pirates may be investigated in terms of their revenue sharing allocation. By spending some last second cash on an available free agent, a starting pitcher ideally, it may cause an MLB turnoff and bypass the investigation.In the end, it may be the thing for the organization to be under the microscope and right the ship so to speak.
photo credits: bygoshitslangosch.mlblogs.com (2), fullpitchcount.com (2), whitesoxblog