Baseball America recently unveiled their list of the top ten Pirates prospects. Topping the list is the Pirates first round pick in 2005, outfielder Andrew McCutchen. At nineteen, McCutchen hit Double A pitching very well and while it looks like he’ll repeat their in 2007, a cup of coffee at the end of the year isn’t out of the realm of possibility. He was given an A- rating in Sickels Prospect Book and he’s also high on the guy so this is a guy to get excited about.
Number two is catcher Neil Walker. Walker was the teams first round pick in 2004 and while he had a solid season at High A, but he struggled in a short sting at Double A so he’s still more then a year away. It looks like he might be pushed away from catcher eventually but his write up says for now he’ll be the catcher at Double A. Sickels gave him a B- in his book so there’s quite a drop off between one and two.
Brad Lincoln rounds out the Pirates first round pick as he was picked in 2006. He was rocked in four starts at Low A but that doesn’t look like it’ll stop him from starting the season at High A. Sickels gives him a tenative B+ so Lincoln looks like a “wait and see” type of talent.
Rounding out the top five are righted handed pitchers Yoslan Herrerra and Josh Sharpless. Herrarra is potential stud and Sharpless will probably be a middle reliever for the Pirates this year.
So there’s some talent at the top and some guys to watch. Man it’d be nice if these guys panned out. We should could use the help.
You hate to see players speak out like this but shortstop Jack Wilson recently told the Pittsburgh media that he’d much rather have Freddy Sanchez playing second base over Jose Castillo. He questions Castillo’s work ethic. Of course I like how this tid bit goes on to talk about how Wilson should work on his hitting rather then shooting off his mouth. He has a career slugging percentage of .368 and his fielding has regressed a bit.
First off, the Pirates lost out on another starting pitcher yesterday with Jeff Weaver looking more and more likely to go to the Mariners. That leaves Tony Armas as the next best option for that fifth spot in the rotation.
In other news, the mega deal that will pay Chase Utley $85 million over seven years might be the standard that Freddy Sanchez will hold up when he finally reaches free agency. There’s no doubt that the Pirates caught lightening in a bottle with Sanchez winning the batting title last year while belting 52 doubles. Sanchez just turned 29 though and while he’s a year older, I don’t really see the Pirates paying even close to what Utley got unless Sanchez starts turning some of those doubles into homeruns. Regardless, the Pirates have another guy that they’re going to have to make decision on soon.
Baseball Prospectus has Freddy Sanchez at a projected 22 VORP. Even if he hits his 75th percentile (30 VORP), you’re not even coming close to what Utley’s mean weighted average VORP of 49 is. Even Utley’s 25th percentile gets him a 30 VORP so Sanchez isn’t anywhere close to the league that Utley’s in, at least not yet.
In the Pirates hunt for a fifth starter, the team has now moved on and is talking to probably the best guy still out there. World Series hero Jeff Weaver has three other teams in the mix but it looks like now that Tomo Okha is off the table, the Pirates aren’t leaving any rock unturned. Weaver had a solid season in 2005 but his 2006 season was a disaster. The Angels cut him and he ended up catching on with the Cardinals where he was marginally better until the playoffs rolled around.
It seems like Weaver’s biggest nemisis is the long ball. The last two seasons he’s given up 69 homeruns. Prior to that he had never given up more then 30. Then again, the Pirates need to get what they can take and Weaver looks pretty good in the Pirates rotation.
The Jays stole Tomo Okha from us, so now the Pirates are looking to sign Tony Armas. I like this a little bit better because despite Armas’ injury problems, he has a better upside. He looked poised to breakout a few years ago but then injuries pretty much derailed his career. He was pretty much healthy last year with the Nationals, but his numbers weren’t up to snuff. It sure would be nice if that was a tune up year and he really gets down to business in 2007, preferably with the Pirates.
The Pirates have apparantly stepped up their pursuit of free agent starter Tomo Okha. It looks like the Pirates are on of four teams and Okha might be the best guy out there after the Pirates lost out on signing Brian Lawrence. Okha might not be an All Star, but as far as fifth starters go, the Pirares could do a whole lot worse. Ohka is 48-58 but he has a career 4.04 ERA for five other teams.
The Pirates signed pitcher Shawn Chacon to a one year, $3.825 million deal. The Pirates got Chacon in the deal that sent Craig Wilson over to the Yankees and there’s a solid chance that the right handed curve ball specialist could be the Pirates fifth starter in 2007.
Chacon started his career with the Rockies and he was actually the team’s closer in 2004. in 2005 he was traded to the Yankees where he broke out and actually looked good in the second half. That didn’t carry over into 2006 though and by the time he was traded, Chacon had been relegated to the bullpen. Hopefully the Pirates can find a little bit of that 2005 second half and Chacon becomes a servicable fifth starter.
The Pirates finally got this deal done and in my opinion, it’s a steal. Yes, Mike Gonzalez is left handed and yes, he strikes guys out and can close games. Adam LaRoche is a bona fide slugger though and he should give Jason Bay a little protection in the lineup. I like this deal a lot. It’s not going to turn the Pirates around completely, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The Pirates are making one more effort to shore up their rotation and they’ve apparantly made an offer to Brian Lawrence. The right handed starter missed all of 2006 because of a shoulder injury but prior to that, he’s been a good but not great innings eater for the Padres. On the Pirates, he’d probably be in the middle of the rotation though and it was expected that Lawrence would be ready for spring training.
This would definitely be one of those wild card signings. You’d hope we wouldn’t throw too much money at him so if he worked out and was fully recovered, then we’d have a bargain. And if he hasn’t come back from the injured shoulder, the Pirates wouldn’t have to eat too much money in the process.
Apparantly, the Pirates have also made an offer to relief pitcher Tomo Ohka. It’s nice that the Pirates are finally getting into the hot stove mix. Yes, I’m being sarcastic.
The Pirates inked infielder Jose Hernandez to a minor league contract. Hernandez hasn’t had a really good year since 2002 but he’s solid against left handed pitching and he can play anywhere in the infield. If he doesn’t prove his worth in camp, we’re not the hook so there’s not a lot of risk here.
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