Pirates ship continues to sink

Go read the message boards, discussion forums, and print media, and it seems Pirate fans are almost glad Salomon Torres is gone.

"No big loss", one post said. "He’s 36, blew 3 or 4 saves last year, has declining stats – we’re lucky to get anything for him. Maybe they will put the savings into player development," another fan hissed.

Ok.. so now that Salomon Torres is no longer a Pirate, tell me, what right-hand reliever comes out of the pen to eat his 80 innings next year? And once you name that player(s), tell me, how do you think their splits will be home and away?

Did you name Ty Taubenheim? Franquelis Osoria? Jonah Bayliss? Romulo Sanchez?

Folks, I’m here to tell you that Neal Huntington blew a gaping hole in the side of the Pirate ship with the Torres trade. Let me show you why with a few basic thoughts:

— the Pirates were 55-107 last two on the road and, other than Capps who has been closing, Torres had the best right-hand relief ERA on the road at 4.56. Of all the RH relief pitchers with 30 or more innings on the road last two, the next closest ERA to Torres was Tony Armas at 9.90.

— Torres had 146 innings of total work last two years with a 7.2 K/9, .8 HR/9, 24 saves, and 25 holds.

Now the Pirates don’t have one right-hand relief pitcher on the entire 40-man roster with 150 MLB innings under their belt. Osoria is closest at 75 career innings (4.9 K/9, 1.2 HR/9, 0 saves, 7 holds, 0-6 record).

You say the Pirates might have a sleeper in the wings? Like who?

JvB had a 9.36 road ERA last year and was crucified no matter where he pitched, Bayliss had a 7.13 ERA in 17 innings of work last year and has a career 8.36 ERA overall (7.0 K/9, 1.9 HR/9, 4 holds, and 0 saves), and Ty Taubenheim has been a starter mauled by right-hand batters – and on left-hand batters, he doesn’t know where the plate is. Who knows what Huntington intends to do with him.

Then there is seven players with no MLB pitching experience on the 40-man roster plus Bryan Bullington and John Van Benschoten. Perhaps Bullington can eat some of those innings – perhaps. That is, if Huntington is willing to move him to the pen, which is doubtful. I’m guessing if he doesn’t make the 25-man out of camp, he’ll be in Indy getting innings under his belt as a starter.

That leaves Romulo Sanchez and his 18 career MLB innings. He pitched well as a rookie last year in the little time we got to see him but his peripherals suggest he’s not ready, he’s going to give up the long ball a lot, but when he finds the plate he’s done ok.. against inferior players in the farm system. Unfortunately, he doesn’t project out well in Pittsburgh.

Losing Torres means the Pirates just went back -2 wins.. at least -2. Now the only thing we can hope for is that our starters go deeper in every game all year long so we don’t need a Torres innings eater.

I think that’s possible to a degree with Snell, Maholm, and Morris – at PNC anyway. But Gorzelanny is due for a downturn since he was +40 innings in 2007 from 2006 and +26 innings 2005 to 2006, Duke managed only 107 innings all of 2007, and JvB, Bullington, and Burnett will be just getting back into the swing of things.

And on the road, the only starters the Pirates have with an ERA last two under 5 is Gorzy and Snell – Duke 5.27; Maholm 6.15; Bullington 6.43; Morris 7.26; JvB 9.36.

In other words, we’re going to need someone to pick up Torres innings, especially on the road and even more so if Morris is dealt.

Sanchez, Osoria, Taubenheim, Bayliss, and seven newbies are not the answer. Shawn Chacon could be but it isn’t likely he’ll resign here, plus his road ERA wasn’t too slick anyway. Bullington might be a last resort if needed, but don’t count on that loss of value.

Instead, look for Huntington to demand a solid projectable right-hand pen arm in any future deals he makes, or for the Pirates to be aggressive signing Armando Benitez, Octavio Dotel, or Luis Vizcaino.

I’m hearing rumblings about a Detroit Tiger/Pittsburgh Pirates deal. Word on the street is that they are pushing Inge, Thames and Durbin as available to teams and I assume they want Marte and/or Grabow. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Durbin came our way after Huntington and the Indians DFA’d him in 2004? Geezz..

Perhaps we can trade Marte to the Tigers for Porcello and throw Bay in as a tag on like Littlefield threw Perez in for Nady?

As of Saturday the Astros remain hot on getting Marte, the underground is saying. How about Ty Wigginton.. never mind, bad joke.

Remember that right-hand pitcher we need so bad? The Astros have Felipe Paulino who certainly has a live arm that might be able to fill that role, if he could learn to keep the ball in the park.

But I suspect it will be Luke Scott since Huntington and the Indians thought so much of him in 2004 they traded him and Traveras for fodder. You know, the Pirates buy high and sell low and Scott fits that bill right now. Maybe Huntington should seek Michael Bourn instead and let Wade keep Scott since he thinks so much of him?

Contra Costa Times: "Mitchell Report on steroids due to be released [Thursday]."



"It’s a wide open division. . I don’t think there is one clear cut favorite." — John Russell.

I hope that isn’t the type of motivational speech he plans with the players.

"The biggest thing the Pirates need to improve on are fundamentals," said Russell."

I assume he means the front office?