Wednesday, January 26, 2005

More Pirates News

John VanBenschoten may be done for the year. Yuck. Let's see: Jason Schmidt, Francisco Cordova, Kris Benson, Bobby Bradley, Sean Burnett, Ryan Vogelsong... a team that can't keep its pitchers healthy probably shouldn't be drafting them in the first round every single year.

The Pirates settle with Rob Mackowiak, who will be acceptable but hardly a bargain at $1.5 million.

Also, they signed Ben Grieve to a minor league contract. Assuming Grieve couldn't have gotten a major league deal from anyone else, this is a great move by both parties. The chances that Grieve will wind up with Pittsburgh at some point are very good. The chances that he will be productive are also fairly good, and he's still young and talented enough to possibly surprise people and have a season similar to the one Craig Wilson had in 2004.

Grieve has his drawbacks, that's for sure - he's a terrible outfielder, he stinks on the basepaths, and he arguably got worse every season from 2000 to 2003. But look:

2004:
Grieve: .361/.424
Matt Lawton: .366/.421

Grieve basically is Lawton, except he's worse on the basepaths and is four years younger. Oh, and Grieve won't be making $7 million next year.

Here are Grieve's most similar batters through age 28:

Sixto Lezcano
Dwight Evans
George Hendrick
Jose Guillen
Dusty Baker

These lists of comparables are rough at best, but every single one of these guys (except Guillen, who played last year at age 28 and shows no signs of slowing down) was productive after age 28. And jeez, Dwight Evans? Dusty Baker? Anytime you can get a 29-year-old on a minor league contract whose top 5 most comparable list includes Evans and Baker, you take him. This is a terrific high-upside, no-risk move by the Pirates. Grieve could easily outplay Lawton next year.

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