Yabuta? GM’s drinking funny water? Bonds?

Are the Pirates interested in Yasuhiko Yabuta? Sure.. just like they are interested in Johana Santana.. Aaron Rowland.. Torii Hunter.. Mike Cameron.. get my drift?

This media report officially begins the annual "we’re interested" spin cycle from the Pirates front office, no matter if the news comes from the player or the media. Over the next two months the Pirates will make you believe they are interested in twenty free agents but sign one or two.. cheap ones. The guys left nobody else would sign.

Rob Neyer and a host of others see the Garland/Cabrera swap as an Angel killing, but I don’t. Garland’s a durable back of the order starter in the AL who will help the Angels in a deal or on the mound, and Cabrera is the bat/glove answer the Sox needed up the middle. I call this win-win.

The Mets just signed Luis Castillo for 4 years at $25M? At best he’s a tick below league average at +1.6 wins and when you consider he’s 32, that’s somewhat of a high price to pay. Not nutty high.. not stupid high.. just high, especially knowing he’s going to age out.

But how about Mike Lowell at 3/37.5? Now that’s nutty high for a guy who is also league average (+2.2 wins).. maybe a tick more. I thought Lowell would get $9M – $9.5M per average over three.

Is it possible values have increased because of the money in the game? Or are teams just overpaying for who they want early? We’ll have to watch where this goes because, if I’m Huntington and I’m seeing these early values from the free-spending teams, I’m standing pat asking the world for Bay right now even considering the risk Bay’s better days are a thing of the past.

"Rival clubs are wondering why the Pirates aren’t being more aggressive in shopping relievers Damaso Marte and Salomon Torres. Marte, a left-hander, could be an especially valuable chip." — Ken Rosenthal yesterday.

Who exactly do we have to replace Marte as a lefty specialist? Dave Davidson? Phil Dumatrait? John Grabow?

The fans would immediately say Grabow, be my hunch. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done too well in the role and last year he gave up nearly 2.5 times the amount of earned runs Marte did with just 7 extra innings. True, some of it was mop up work but a lot of it wasn’t. That’s not good.

Others might argue let’s see if Davidson is going to step up – he has the potential and, while he’ll take a hit early settling in, he might come around as he gets innings under his belt. Under this scenario, it might be better to hold Marte and let Davidson work with him until the July deadline then deal him because the value he provides Davidson just might outweigh the extra value dealing him now.

Phil Dumatrait? He’s simply a guy who is heading to AAA to see if he can add some depth to the Pirates shortage of southpaw setup guys. He’s not the answer.

And some fans might say bring up Daniel Moskos, but hold that thought for next year, at least. Give him time to adjust, get a few innings in, and see if he can find the plate.. consistently.

The fact is, Huntington can’t deal Marte right now without taking a major late game hit trying to stay just a little competitive. And I’ll put this out there just so my readers hear it at least once, there’s no arguing that Matt Capps has done a fine job in the closer role, but his stats don’t suggest it’s going to continue, where Marte’s do. Keeping Marte around insures the Pirates they have closer material if Capps tumbles.

As for Torres? He holds little value after his grievance, poor numbers last year, and after stating in the press not too long ago he’d just retire if he didn’t like where he’s sent. If Huntington could deal him for a decent lower level prospect, he probably would since Romulo Sanchez looks to be the heir to his throne down the line.

Let’s see if Huntington doesn’t get Chacon resigned, or equally replaced, first. By the way, in the few starts Chacon made covering about 20 innings he racked up a 7.9 K/9 (highest of all starters), a ridiculous 5.6 BB/9, and a fabulous 2.72 xERA (lowest of all starters). True, his starts were somewhat hand picked, but that’s my point..

The Pirates have quite a few players they could remove from the 40-man if they happen to run across a decent Rule 5 pick or two. Don’t be surprised if you see Huntington busy.

I had an interesting email conversation with an out of work front office exec today who commented on a post here I had done showing the poor road work from our southpaw starters the last two years.

When the conversation turned to Barry Bonds, he asked me if I felt the Pirates should give Bonds one last shot despite the indictment. My immediate answer was, heck no.. as a Pirate fan, I don’t feel any moral obligation to Bonds whatsoever.

Then I thought about it a minute.

This is America and people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, Bonds is, and always will be, attached to the organization, he did have a better offensive xERA than A-Rod last year although he only played 56% of the time, and let’s be honest, the Pirates don’t exactly have OBP floating around.

But the media circus.. what would that do to this young club? Could it possibly help the youngsters focus more on the road? Plus, the Pirates organization isn’t exactly known to be pro-player by any means. And how would it impact the purported ‘culture’ ideology shift?

What do you think? Talk it up on Bucco Blog’s discussion forum.

"It’s believed that three of those new coaches will be former Pirate Gary Varsho, Indianapolis pitching coach Jeff Andrews and Pirates minor-league infield coordinator Tony Beasley." — Post-Gazette Tuesday

Varsho and Beasley I can handle and about what I expected. At least Varsho can make out a lineup card. hehe

My wife and I met attending classes at ETSU so she’s rooting for Andrews, but I just don’t like the way he handled his staff the last couple of years at Indy. Perhaps he was under orders and I should just relax? But Youman’s 40 pitches one inning last year.. JvB and Bullington’s multiple extremely high per inning pitch counts while bouncing out of rehab.. Burnett.. wow. I don’t know about this. Huntington better be setting some strict guidelines.

Still, nice to see an ETSU Buc break the MLB coaching barrier.. first one I believe.

My sources are telling me that ex-Marlin 1B coach Perry Hill has accepted the 1B coach/infield instructor position. I’ve emailed the Pirates for confirmation. If true, then at least I got one of my wishes. Hill’s widely considered to be one of the best there is in the game instructing infielders and he’d be a plus hire for Huntington.

(Update 11 AM Tuesday): the Pirates acknowledged this morning an offer was made to Perry Hill and they were awaiting confirmation while working out the details with the Marlins who evidently still have him under contract. Unfortunately, my source indicates Hill has decided this morning to not return to the game this year.

How in the world did we miss Warner Madrigal when we have Frank "Mr. Commissioner’s Office" Coonelly running the show? Anybody? Wow.. what a miss.