On December 18 the Pirates signed right-handed pitcher Ryan Vogelsong to a one year contract worth roughly two-million dollars. From the time the Pirates signed Vogelsong I said it was a mistake. Vogelsong is 38 years old, and is coming off a season in which he posted a 4.53 FIP, 4.55 xFIP, and a career worst 3.87 BB/9. When a pitcher has a season like that and is 38 years old you can’t help but wonder if they have anything left in the tank or not.
This spring, Vogelsong continued to struggle. In 13 1/3 innings pitched he posted a 6.08 ERA allowing 17 hits, posting a 1.57 WHIP, and he struck out just four batters. As a result of his disastrous spring Vogelsong will start the year in the Pirate bullpen instead of the rotation.
When Vogelsong was signed by the Pirates he believed he would be in the starting rotation, and now that he is not Vogelsong is upset. It is understandable for him to be upset about this, but he has no one to blame but himself. Vogelsong struggled last season, and then struggled again this spring. Also, Juan Nicasio blew people away this spring and rightfully earned a spot in the Pirate rotation.
Being in Vogelsong’s position and being disappointed is understandable, but there have been multiple reports that Vogelsong has complained about being moved to the bullpen. It was also reported that after the news was broke to him he was seen outside the Pirate clubhouse being calmed down by Michael Morse because of how angry he was. This is where things start to become a problem.
In my opinion the Pirates should release Ryan Vogelsong. If his attitude is poor, he could potentially become a problem in the clubhouse. The Pirates have a very close-knit clubhouse, and that attitude will not go over well. A big reason why Jason Grilli was traded in June of 2014 is because he was beginning to buttheads with others in the clubhouse. The Pirates will not put up with this.
Now the old adage is that if a player is good enough you put up with their behavior, but Ryan Vogelsong does not fit that category. At this point in his career Ryan Vogelsong is not a very good pitcher. The Pirates could get better production from a different pitcher, who would cost less money, than Vogelsong.
For example, Kyle Lobstein could easily replace Vogelsong as the long man in the Pirate bullpen and give the Bucs better results than Vogelsong for less money. The Pirates have plenty of bullpen arms available at AAA, and will be getting Jared Hughes back from the disabled list in a few weeks, so shifting Lobstein’s role around in the bullpen would not be much of an issue.
Ryan Vogelsong is not a very good pitcher at this point of his career. Furthermore, he appears to be developing a poor attitude and could run the risk of becoming a problem in the clubhouse. For these reasons, in my opinion, the Pirates should release Ryan Vogelsong. The 2016 Pirates would be better off if they did that.