The lack of big splash moves this offseason has left many wondering just how serious the Pirates are about sustaining the success of 2013. It’s a fair assessment, but it made me want to think a little more about last offseason before I threw any more gas on the fire.
So before you throw in the black-out-rally towel on the Bucs hot stove, answer this quick Pittsburgh Pirates trivia question. Who did the Pirates trade for Jeanmar Gomez?
If you guessed Quincy Latimore you win the chicken dinner. Q was a powerful, undersized, over swinging strikeout machine who was our favorite Australian League Baseball player when he tore through the league.
When the deal went down this was our headline last year> Pirates Acquire Jeanmar Gomez Another Ray Searage Project
And this is part of what we wrote…
Jeanmar Gomez flew out of the starting gate in 2012 for the Cleveland Indians. After four starts, he sported a 2.35 ERA. Then the wheels fell off–the command was gone. Hence, being DFA’d as the Indians made room on their 40-man roster for Nick Swisher.
May 30, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Home plate umpire Dan Bellino (left) and umpire Jerry Layne check under the cap of Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Jeanmar Gomez (58) during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Gomez gained attention when he beaned that guy with all the M’s in his name last year. The right hander was suspended five games you might recall after MLB concluded that he intentionally threw at the Royals’ Mike Moustakas
The lanky hurler had made ten starts, seventeen starts, and eleven starts from 2010 to 2012 with the Tribe. Unfortunately, not many of them were real good, he was hittable and didn’t strike out a lot of the bad guys. He earned the Indians’ fifth starter spot after a strong spring training.
These were his numbers.
Gomez has had some signs of dominance including a perfect game at Double-A Akron back in ’09 which was a year before he broke into the Indians rotation. With the likes of Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, David Huff and Scott Kazmir battling for the final spot in the rotation, Gomez was the man without a spot and in September of 2012, the Indians moved him to the bullpen.
The trade was barely a blip on the offseason radar. But Neal Huntington and his team saw something they liked and made the move. The rest is history.
Gomez made eight starts and pitched his ass off over 80.2 innings. He had that great start against Detroit and held his own for most of the season. The ground balls were prevelant and he was a steady presence for most of the season. The right-hander allowed just 65 hits, 28 walks and struck out 53 as he put up a nice 106 ERA+.
Before you knock some of the moves Huntington and his team are making in Bob Nutting’s cash starved utopia, let’s put some trust in Huntington and his team. Trust me, I know that’s really easy to say, the first time I saw Gomez pitch against the Red Sox in Spring Training, I wanted to throw up.
But Searage and the boys worked it out. Gomez struckout more batters than he ever had. Gomez allowed fewer hits per nine than he ever had. Most importantly, Gomez served up groundballs at a 55.4 percent clip, another career high. And just like that the Pirates have a pitcher in his prime (Gomez turns 26 in February) that will be a bullpen or fifth starter option that cost the team basically nothing.
That’s how the Pirates win. It’s not the sizzle that all of us love, but the steak tastes damn good. Not many gave Francisco Liriano or Russell Martin much love when they were acquired. That turned out alright. A large faction wanted to give up on Pedro Alavrez. He tied for the NL lead in homers. Charlie Morton looks like a new pitcher. The success stories are right out in the open.
Perhaps we should think more about what Edison Volquez could really become. Maybe give Andrew Lambo, Travis Snider and Jose Tabata another shot before we drive ourselves crazy begging for roster deconstruction of years gone by. Because the reality seems like the Pirates plan is to give those players every opportunity, even if we won’t.