The Pirates gave Pittsburgh a taste of first place in 2011, but then collapsed and left the fans begging for more. They headed into this offseason with legitimate means for optimism, and that optimism grew even more when Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder left the division. But what did the Pirates do themselves to make us optimistic about this 2012 season? Well, my answer is not a whole lot, but it certainly could have been much worse. Here’s the breakdown:
I think the only seriously good move the Pirates made this offseason was getting Erik Bedard. It was practically a miracle to me that we got him to come here so quickly and for so little guaranteed money. By now, you know all about the guy. He has good stuff and could be a top of the rotation starter if he stays healthy, and that’s a big if. Bedard is easily the brightest spot to this 2011-2012 offseason.
The second best move the Pirates made in my eyes was getting Nick Evans. I wrote extensively about that in this post.
I hesitate to call anything else we have seen this offseason “good”. There were a lot of moves that were not “bad” and needed to be done, but I’m not super excited about anything else. That said, I’m putting the addition of Casey McGehee and the subtractions of Paul Maholm and Ronny Cedeno in this category. I really like McGehee, think he was a great buy-low player that the Pirates gave up basically nothing for. He’ll be there if Alvarez stinks and he could actually put up some really nice numbers for the Pirates. Letting Paul Maholm walk away was definitely a good idea, he simply wasn’t worth the money they were going to have to pay him. When the Pirates let Ronny Cedeno walk away, I really didn’t like it, however with the signing of Clint Barmes, that made me not miss Cedeno anymore. More about that later.
Another “good” thing about the Pirates offseason was PirateFest. They had it more than a month earlier this year, and it was still a huge success. A ton of people came out and the Pirates did a really nice job. Tom and I partook in the blogger Q&A, which was a really good time. Great job by the Pirates.
Much like the “good” section, this one isn’t truly what it looks like. I don’t think the Pirates made any really bad moves. The acquisitions the team made were safe and necessary, and they didn’t invest any serious money into anything to make these moves even candidates to be really bad moves. That said, here’s what I came up with.
I think the worst move of the Pirates offseason was adding Nate McLouth. They gave up $1.5 million and let Xavier Paul walk away for free. While Paul certainly wasn’t a good player for the Pirates last year, I don’t think he’s substantially worse than McLouth is. The Pirates certainly overpaid for a mediocre player that will be limited to a bench role this season, but again, you shouldn’t be complaining too much about a $1.5 million move that is also good for the fan base.
The other bad move I have is Yamaico Navarro. I put him in here just because I couldn’t think of much else. The Pirates traded Brooks Pounders for Navarro, which isn’t a horrible thing since Pounders was so far away from the major league level and is one of many low-level pitching prospects that the Pirates have. Chances are Pounders never makes the Pirates miss him, but I really don’t see Navarro ever doing anything either. He’s a decent depth guy to have, especially since the Pirates lost Pedro Ciriaco this offseason, but if I had to choose I probably would rather have the upside of a low-A pitcher, but again this move is more than likely going to turn out being insignificant.
The Pirates selected Gustavo Nunez in the Rule V draft this year, and he is not an attractive person.
Yikes. In addition to the ugliness of his face and teeth, the Pirates getting this guy was kind of ugly in itself. This guy has never played above the AA level, and he’s only played a few games there, and now he’s going to have to stick with the Pirates at the major league level if he wants to stick with this organization. I don’t think there’s any chance he can do it, and the Pirates will have to offer him back to Detroit. Obviously, offering back something you got for free isn’t something that’s going to hurt you, but I just really didn’t understand even making this pick.
The additions of Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas are ones I have listed as ugly as well. The Pirates absolutely needed to fill the shortstop and catching positions after losing Cedeno and Doumit, and they could have done a much worse job. However, neither of these two guys have good offensive numbers. They are grinders who play tough defense and don’t have much flash to their game. You could call that “ugly”, sorta-kinda, right? I’m not saying negative things about these two guys, because I think they were appropriate gets for the Pirates at this point in their rebuilding process, but I’m not going to call them really good additions, and I’m not going to call them really bad additions, so we’re going with ugly. Also, the dozens of balls that these two hit that are caught on the warning track in PNC Park’s left-center field are going to be ugly. That’s where these two have power, and PNC is just a terrible fit for their bats.
I’m not sure where to put the addition of the Budweiser Bowtie Bar here. It could be a good, because most all of us enjoy alcohol at a ballgame. It could be bad, if you’re against that kind of thing. And it could be ugly, since that’s where most of us will be if the Pirates lose game number 82 at home this year. Feel free to put the Bowtie Bar in whatever category you want, I’m not going to do it.
As we head into spring training, the Pirates aren’t in a great position and they aren’t in a horrible position. Right now, there are a lot of things up in the air for the Pirates. They could have done a better job this offseason, and they could have done a much worse job this offseason. For right now, let’s just be happy that we at least have some semblance of a chance to compete in 2012.