Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Pirates Present a Shiny Lump of Coal to Fans for Christmas

Merry Christmas! 

From the Pirates, however, another Erik Bedard lump of coal in our stocking.

Until we heard detailed terms of the Francisco Liriano contract announced yesterday, we were mildly interested to see the Pirates had signed him, although he had an ERA over 5.00 each of the past two years. 

We figured, well, they're taking a long-shot flyer on a guy who may regain some flash of the magic he had seven years ago, and they probably signed him for one year, maybe about $2.5 million.  

Then, we heard the terms of the contract: two years for $14 million??!!! That is just ridiculous. Absurd. Especially if they're going to jettison Joel Hanrahan, who is due $7 million this year.  And they seem intent on doing that.

It was about time the Pirates spent money, but the Liriano signing is not smart.

On the MLB network last night, this signing was the lead topic for discussion with Paul Severino, Mitch Williams and Larry Bowa. They spent about seven minutes on it. All negative. They were extremely critical of this signing, and they gave very thoughtful, detailed reasons to support their rationale.  

Among the highlights (paraphrasing, but roughly approximate):

Larry Bowa said, "I don't like the amount of money, and I don't like that he doesn't throw strikes. He gives up a lot of walks. The guy throws a lot of pitches, a ton of walks, he has no control. He doesn't go deep into games, won't get you a lot of innings, and he'll wear out your bullpen. Your defense is going to be back on its heels, and he'll give up runs in a hurry."

Mitch Williams said, "A ton of money to pay a guy who last year had an ERA over 5.00. In my day, he'd be in the minors. Way too much money. He cannot control his pitches. His mechanics are terrible. He opens up that front step, and he cannot command the ball on a strike-to-strike basis."

Severino pointed out that there may have been other, better and cheaper options available, including Carl Pavano, Joe Saunders and Brett Myers. Joey Porter's Pit Bulls would can throw Shaun Marcum's name in that discussion, too. Jeff Karstens, for that matter. Williams and Bowa said any of one of Pavano, Saunders or Myers would eat up innings and would been a smarter, cheaper signing than Liriano.

Another point of discussion was the fact that Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are on the horizon. Williams and Bowa agreed, emphatically, that Cole and Taillon should be in the mix this year. 

Williams said, "Without question, the Pirates should bring these guys up, let 'em work out of the bullpen first as middle-inning guys, let 'em work though a lineup, gain some confidence and then work them into the rotation. Without question."

As for Joel Hanrahan, all three agreed, "If the Pirates think they can contend, keep him. If they trade him, that sends a message from the front office that says, we don't think we can win. It's a terrible message to send to the other players."

Agreed. We didn't like the way Hanrahan fell off the table in the second half of each of the last two seasons, at all, BUT trading him now feels like the wrong move. 

The Pirates will say that Jason Grilli will be the closer. He fell off in the second half of the season, too. We might see a return of Matt Capps. Seriously.

Fourteen million dollars for two years to jam up the rotation with Francisco Liriano?  Y'know what?  Put that money instead into an extension for Neil Walker.  Or upgrade the coaching staff, or the minor league player and development system. 

Or, better yet, invest that money in a new general manager to replace Neal Huntington.  Yeah, how about that?  

And while we're at it, bring in Kim Ng from the MLB executive offices and replace that clown Frank Coonelly and his minions, Kyle Stark & Co.  

The Pirates' instincts are off. Again. And again. And always, it seems.

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