Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Pirates Acquire Ross; Roundup

The Pirates have acquired David Ross from the Dodgers for David Ross for a bit of cash. This is a nice little move. The Pirates had nothing but prospects and question marks at catcher. It wouldn't help them to call up Ryan Doumit or Ronny Paulino to ride the bench if one of their question marks got injured, and if you have to depend on question marks, it's best to have as many as possible.

Ross was terrible for the Dodgers last year, but he hit well in every season before that since 2000. He spent some of that time in hitter-happy Las Vegas, where even Joe Thurston can look good, but he also hit well at Class AA and in brief stints in the majors. He isn't someone you want your team depending on, but he's terrific AAA roster filler - if someone in the big leagues gets injured or tanks, he could probably fill in nicely as a backup, and he might even surprise people by hitting really well for a while. The Pirates took a big risk by going with Benito Santiago and Humberto Cota at catcher this year; Santiago is a huge injury and collapse risk, and Cota has played so sparingly the past two years that it's hard to tell if he's any good or not. Ross helps mitigate that risk.

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The Pirates are close to finalizing their roster, and they've decided their last two bullpen arms will be John Grabow and either Mark Corey or Rick White. Personally, I'd rather play a never-was with a high strikeout rate (Corey) than a washed-up has-been like White, but that's no big deal, and I'm glad to see that Grabow will be in the pen - his strikeout rate was very high last season, and his ERA was a bit high because he allowed more hits than one would expect. He's only 26 this year, so he probably has some upside.

From the same article, Tom Gorzelanny, who is probably the Pirates' best pitching prospect after Zach Duke, is having elbow trouble and might have to have surgery. Jeez, is this a mess.

The Stats Geek offers a best-case scenario for the 2005 Pirates. After a very long introduction about Albert Camus that I can't believe got published (although I liked it), the Geek says that the Pirates' have a shot to succeed because of the number of busts who won't be on their roster anymore. That's reasonable, but the Pirates have replaced those busts (and one big non-bust, Jason Kendall) with a number of players who are huge collapse risks - Santiago, White, Ty Wigginton and Matt Lawton come to mind, as do returning mediocrities like Tike Redman, Daryle Ward, Jose Mesa and Josh Fogg. There is some chance that the Pirates could hit .500 this year, but I'd argue that chance is too tiny to even bother thinking about.

The Hardball Times' new Pirates preview gets many broader points right but misses a lot of details - author Tom Talavage inexplicably omits Chris Stynes from a lists of bad veterans who played for the 2004 Pirates, doesn't seem to get that the A's traded Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes to the Pirates in order to dump their salaries, and doesn't seem to understand that Sean Burnett is out for the foreseeable future.


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