Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rumor/News Roundup

I've been absent for a week, and I haven't been able to watch any of the Pirates' games, but here are my thoughts on some of this week's news items.

Rowdy found this rumor roundup from CBS, which I'd usually never click on because it takes forever to load on my Lewinsky-era computer. There's some interesting stuff in there, though. First, the Pirates are interested in Mets pitcher Aaron Heilman and "may be" willing to trade Ryan Vogelsong for him. Riiiight. Heilman's no prize - he didn't improve in his third run through Class AAA last year - but if the Pirates can grab someone with any chance of becoming a useful starter for Vogelsong, I would hope they'd do that immediately.

The article also reports the Pirates have focused their gimme-an-outfielder-any-outfielder nationwide search on the Nationals' Terrmel Sledge, a functional lefty hitter who got a well-deserved shot in the big leagues in 2004 and did rather well, hitting .336/.462 with 15 homers in 398 at bats. He'll only be 28 this year, and unlike the Pirates' current corner options not named Jason Bay, he doesn't appear to be atrocious in the field, so he'd be worth a shot for the right price. I don't get the sense that Dave Littlefield has any idea what that price should be, but Nationals GM Jim "Cristian Guzman is worth TENS of MILLIONS" Bowden probably doesn't either.

I have a better idea, though. The article above also explains that the Reds might be willing to deal Wily Mo Pena for a starting pitcher. Grabbing Pena would be a huge coup for the Pirates: he's 23, he broke out last year, he has power, he has lots of upside, and he can play centerfield. In my opinion, the Pirates should consider trading any pitcher they have except Oliver Perez to get him.

In other news, Todd Ritchie retired. I feel bad reacting this way to the news that a former Pirate is switching careers and giving up his struggle with what must be tremendous physical hardship, but frankly, I'm glad the Pirates won't have the temptation to let him pitch for them.

Also, the Pirates cut a number of players this week. None of the cuts were particularly surprising, but I am surprised that Chris Duffy was not among them. Or, I'm surprised that since Nate McLouth was cut, that Duffy wasn't also. The Pirates probably figured they could keep an extra outfielder for a while, given that Jason Bay is currently dealing with a minor injury. But the Pirates' infatuation with Duffy is beyond my comprehension. He's not young, and he has very little power or plate discipline. He's not ever going to hit much at the big league level unless he undergoes some kind of serious transformation, and fast.

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