Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Non-tender Deadline

The passing of the non-tender deadline yesterday means it's open season on these non-tendered players. Trev at has made a list of players the Pirates might be able to use. Here's mine.

The best-known player on the list is Wade Miller (SP), who has been a very good starter for the Astros. He probably isn't healthy, and he may have to sign an incentive-laden deal or a Jon Lieber / Aaron Boone-type contract in which he would sign for multiple years but not be expected to play much for the first year. In any case, he'll probably cost too much for the Pirates' blood.

Next is Josh Phelps (1B) of the Indians. Trev points out Phelps' similarities to Craig Wilson. The Pirates already have the real thing, of course, but with first base the mess it is right now, why not take a flyer on another? After a monster 2002 in Toronto and AAA Syracuse, Phelps was looking like a star in the making, and even if he can't get back on track, he still hits for enough power to be useful as a bench player.

(Phelps' career also bears some similarities to that of the player whose at bats he'd theoretically take. Daryle Ward was once a pretty fantastic prospect, particularly after an excellent season at AA and AAA in 1997. But Phelps is three years younger.)

Miguel Asencio (P) was only 21 when he was taken from the Phillies in the 2001 Rule 5 draft. He's missed most of the last two years due to some pretty grisly injuries, but he had very good stuff before that and will only be 24 next year, so he might be worth a minor league contract.

Eric Munson (3B) possesses serious power and plays third base. Enough said. Well, maybe not. He's a Tony Batista-type player in that he rarely fails to make an out unless he's hitting a home run. Still, from the little I've read, he can probably handle the position as well as Ty Wigginton, and Munson hits lefty, so they might be good platoon mates. It might not be a great idea to spend two roster spots on Wigginton and Munson, though.

Billy Traber (P) is still only 25, and he's a lefty, and he's only a couple years removed from being a very highly regarded prospect. He demonstrated very good control in the minor leagues, although his strikeout rates were rather low. He has a decent performance record for his age at the major league level. He doesn't throw hard, but he has five pitches. Traber has had lots of trouble with his elbow and finally broke down near the end of the 2003 season (sorry, Billy!), so it's not certain that he'll be good when he comes back. Still, he's certainly worth a minor league contract.

Finally, there's Dustan Mohr (OF). Anyone who puts up a .394 OBP deserves a look from the Pirates. That .394 is in a relatively small sample size, and it's way out of line with Mohr's history in the majors and minors. But even if Mohr tails off, he should be able to help the Bucs, especially if he can play center field occasionally.

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