It is a simple question given the state of the current Pirate team what is the correct way to approach the rest of the offseason. Should they go out and try to bring in Edwin Jackson? Roy Oswalt? Carlos Pena? Derrek Lee? Casey Kotchman? Or should they go a more conservative route?
To answer this question we must first figure out what kind of team this Pirates team is. Are they a playoff caliber team? No certainly not. Would one or two signing push them to a playoff caliber team? No I don’t think it would. So what do we have? Basically what we had last year, a 70-75 win team and what would signing say Jackson and Pena make them well maybe it would make them a 75-80 win team at best. Is that worth it? I don’t think so.
Jackson is going to demand a rather lucrative long term deal and while the Pirates should not shy away from those types of move it should only be done to fill a glaring hole that is holding them back from contention. A starting pitcher is needed but a guy like Jackson isn’t making this team a competitor. Signing Pena would address the 2012 need for a 1B but that is really not the issue. Yes the Pirates could stand to upgrade at 1B for 2012 but the more important issue is getting the position fixed long term. McGehee has the chance to be that answer, yes it is a long shot but it is worth exploring and in the mean time a long term external solution can be sought via the trade market.
So now the question becomes should the Pirates do anything else this offseason? Lets face it this season is probably going to be another losing one no matter who the Pirates sign so why should they sign somebody else. Well that is one way of thinking but that is not the right way of thinking. I am content with standing pat with a Jones/McGehee platoon at 1st because while thy won’t put up monster numbers they have the potential to make a serviceable 1B comparable to what is left on the market.
However the Pirates have two positions in which they do not currently have a serviceable answer, SP depth and C. I’ll start with catcher yes the Pirates signed Barajas and that goes a long ways to making the position serviceable but counting on Barajas for anything more than 90 starts and an OBP below 300. That is not enough from a starting catcher and with McKenry and Morales as the only fall back options more has to be done to address the position. There are no catchers currently on the market who are better than Barajas and with Sanchez hopefully being ready next year the Pirates should not trade for a long term solution. So what can they do? The answer is to bring in a cheap option to share time with Barajas maybe someone who comes with a high upside, some risk that should drive down his price and maybe even someone familiar with the team. Who could that be, well thats Chris Snyder and due to his back injury he should come at a reasonably cheap price.
The Pirates are also in need of some starting pitcher depth. Some take this to mean taking innings and starts away from Correia but that isn’t the issue the issue is getting them away from Jo-Jo Reyes f the world. The options for a depth starting pitcher are getting slim at the moment. i was hoping for Pineiro or Marquis but both are already gone. I that this point I think the best we can hope for is to bring in someone with ties to the team and the one person who fits that description Jeff Francis. He knows Hurdle well and as a left hander PNC Park would be a good fit for him. Signing Francis or a similar pitcher would give the Pirates 7 decent starters to begin the year with (Bedard, Morton, McDonald, Karstens, Correia, Lincoln and Francs) this will hopefully give McPherson, Locke and Owens time to develop.
So what I’m calling for is for the Pirates to fix a couple glaring holes at C and SP while letting the other big hole, 1B play itself out. Why because there exists a possible 2013 solution for C and SP but not for 1B. I have a feeling the Pirates are done making mvoes but we will see how everything plays out and if they address the holes even I can see.