Pirates Sign Francisco Liriano

Reports out of Minnesota say the Bucs have signed LHP Francisco Liriano to a 2 year/$14M deal. Liriano is expected to join the rotation as the #4 starter, creating a competition for the final spot between Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson.

The 29 year old lefty has struck out an outstanding 9.1 batters per nine innings in his career and can be very effective when he limits his walks. Unfortunately, his control has been very erratic since tearing an elbow ligament during his fantastic rookie season.  Still, there’s some upside here and $7M a year is not bad considering what what the going rate for pitching has been this winter.

UPDATES: Multiple sources say that Liriano won’t take his physical until after the holidays, so this deal won’t be official for a while. Jon Heyman reports that the deal is actually for just under $13M, so hooray for saving a little cash.

The Pirates Will Do Very Little This Offseason And That’s Okay.

What will happen this off-season:

In the OF: Nothing. Andrew McCutchen is rightfully entrenched in center. Starling Marte is ready for a fulltime job. Travis Snider gets first crack at right field. Alex Presley and Jose Tabata provide depth.

In the IF: Nothing. Pedro Alvarez, Clint Barmes and Neil Walker are set at third, short and second. Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez will platoon at first.

Behind the plate: A partner for Michael McKenry will be picked up. It won’t be Russell Martin if his price is really 4 yrs/$40M. I don’t know how much A.J. Pierzynski is looking for. Toronto (J.P. Arencibia/Travis d’Arnaud/John Buck) and Boston (Ryan Lavarnway/Jarrod Saltalamacchia/David Ross) both have catching depth to spare. Trading with one of those teams seems like the best option.

On the mound: A.J. Burnett/Wandy Rodriguez/James McDonald will head the rotation. After that things are in flux. Jeff Karstens will be in the mix if he’s tendered a contract. Look for the team to add one starter making $8-10M/year. Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke will fill the back-end or provide depth.

In the Bullpen: This is where the most change will happen. Joel Hanrahan, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes will be there. Every other spot is up for grabs. This is OK because reliever performance can vary wildly from year to year. Bullpens are also one of the easiest pieces of the team to build on the cheap. For those same reasons, it’s also possible that Hanrahan could be traded if another team is willing to give up a solid catcher or starting pitcher.

So that’s it. The Pirates will sign or otherwise acquire a catcher, a starting pitcher and a slew of relievers.

What else was to be expected? The major moves were made in July – Wandy Rodriguez and Travis Snider.

There aren’t any obvious bargains to be had on the free agent market. Look closely at that list and you’ll find that each player falls into one of three categories: old, bad or prohibitively expensive. Any significant improvement will have to come via the trade route. If they could swing a trade for Giancarlo Stanton or Wil Myers or a shortstop with half a bat to go with this glove it would be beyond great, but I just can’t see a deal like that happening. This is your 2013 Pirates team. And it looks a whole lot like the 2012 team.

Bucs Make Roster Moves With An Eye Towards The Playoffs

Only players on the active roster on September 1* can be on a team’s postseason roster. With that in mind, the Pirates made two roster moves today.

Jeff Clement was outrighted to Class A Bradenton. Clement was 0-6 with 2 K’s in his brief time up. The fact that he was outrighted and not simply optioned opens a spot on the 40 man roster and likely shows that the team doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to contribute at the major league level.

Chase d”Arnaud was optioned to AAA. I expect Chase to be added back to the active roster once he is eligible to be called back up and resume his role as a… back up.

Kyle McPherson and Alex Presley were recalled from AAA. McPherson will pitch in the bullpen for now but should get a few starts in Erik Bedard‘s old spot. In 12 starts this year at AA and AAA he has a 3.22 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 8.5 K/9.

Presley will help cover for a banged up outfield. We’ve seen what he can do when he’s on top of his game, and we’ve seen how bad he can be too. Alex gets a start in CF tonight to give Andrew McCutchen an extra night off before the stretch run.

*There are a few exceptions that can be made for players who go on or are currently on the DL. For example: Charlie Morton on the 60-day DL allows the team to add any pitcher that is currently in the organization to the playoff roster.

Spring Training 2012: Friday 3/23 Pirate City Recap

Day Two started at Pirate City. Minor league players were everywhere to be seen on the five and a half fields. Happily, I was able to meet Tim Williams, who runs the excellent Pirates Prospects. Tim informed me that Gerrit Cole would not be pitching, but luckily there was still (as always) plenty to see. A quick photo essay:

Coaches watch batting practice.

Club President Frank Coonelly gives a tour. Steve Blass gave a similar tour earlier.

Tony Sanchez walks through the bullpen.

Sanchez about to step in the cage.

Starling Marte (#6) waits for his turn while Kris Watts hits.

Kyle McPherson throws to Sanchez.

“The Legend” Garrett Jones had a fan on site. The crowd was sparse when we arrived but filled in a lot by the time we broke for lunch.

Autograph hounds float around too. Here, they descend on Tony Sanchez.

The pictures turned out more Tony Sanchez-centric than I intended. Not pictured but seen running various drills: Stetson Allie, Gorkys Hernandez, Mel Rojas, Jr., and Brian Friday.

Lunch was at the nearby Mixon Fruit Farm where my Dad and I ate with fellow Pirate fan Matt Brown. I had a tasty Cuban sandwich followed by this number for dessert.

That is a swirl of orange ice cream made with fresh squeezed orange juice. It tasted just like a cream-sickle only better.

Mixon’s came highly recommended and now I know why. This will definitely become a regular part of our trips to Spring Training.

Coming up: Part II: McKechnie Field and the Tigers.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 278 other followers