Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Pirates Lukewarm Stove

With moves highlighting their off-season like the following, I really can't actually continue the charade of calling the Pirates transactions part of The Baseball Hot Stove.
-Opting not to re-sign Jason Michaels
-Over-paying Ramon Vazquez for 2 years and 4 million dollars
-Spurning Chris Gomez even though he's still on the market and dirt cheap
-Pursuing the has-been Matt Clement and the never-was Daniel Cabrera
-Trading Fat Ronny for another useless catcher
-Non-tendering Denny Bautista
-Selecting someone named Veal in the Rule 5 Draft while not protecting Kyle Bloom

So instead, while everyone else deals on the Hot Stove and the Yankees deal on the Inferno Stove, the Pirates are relegated to the Lukewarm Stove until they actually do something that a real Pirate fan can pump their fist over.

But being that I'm a complete masochist, I still must follow this dreadful team as it swirls through the depths of yet another difficult rebuilding job. So, here are some of the things lurking for the Bucs:

-Yep, they're interested in Daniel "For some reason everyone thinks I'm going to be a good pitcher" Cabrera. Yeah sure he throws absolute heat, but he's essentially the real life version of this guy:
The only problem is that no one has yet realized that all they need to do is put glasses on Cabrera and...POOF! He's a superstar pitcher who is essentially the second coming. So they have that going for them. Of course, even if they do figure that part out, they should trade him after one year because he's going to get all soft after meeting some hot babe and want to learn to throw only off-speed stuff and fail miserably and then return to throwing only heat in the final game of the season because, you know, it's easy to make it in the Bigs if you only have one pitch and it's a fastball. Wait, did I take this movie thing too far?

-750K for Jason Michaels was apparently too rich for their blood even though they paid 2 million a year for this guy:
To be fair, Michaels' deal had incentives that could kick it to 1.5 million, but I mean even still, I'd rather have Nate McLouth's long lost twin brother than Vazquez. I mean LOOK AT THAT PICTURE! I know these guys may have forever given us the answer to the always pertinent question, "Which Pittsburgh athlete most looks like a sexual deviant?" But you've got to admit, Ramon Vazquez should come in second, right?

-The Buccos, in their usual infinite wisdom, waited until after the Rule 5 Draft to non-tender Denny Bautista, who had been taking up a spot on the 40-man roster that could have instead been occupied by Kyle Bloom, a young'n who was taken in the Rule 5 after an extremely promising showing in the Hawaiian Winter League.

-The Bucs may be kicking the tires on the immortal Ty Wigginton, but that seems unlikely given that, like thousands of others, he exploded into a promising player after he left the Burgh. Still I found it stunning he got non-tendered. They have also inquired about Jerry Hairston, but it's similarly unlikely anything actually happens here, too.

-It appears as though Rafael Furcal may be signing with the Braves. Or not. He might still be waiting around. Still, if he signs with ATL, then Jumpin Jack likely enters the cross hairs of the Dodgers. Also, a rumored trade with the Tomahawk Choppers that may net Yunel Escobar has been tossed about, as have rumors about Paul Maholm being involved in that kind of a deal, but that seems extremely unlikely.

-Donnie Veal, the Rule 5er that the Pirates took shortly before losing the more higher potential Kyle Bloom, struggled heavily in AA ball last season. He has a pretty fair amount of pop in his pitches, and that is something that is quite obviously pretty sacred to the new management squad. Still, that can only take you so far toward being a successful pitcher. He will also be converted, at least for this season, to a middle reliever from a starter, which could actually be something worth watching.

-And of course, I couldn't let the loss of one of the All-time great Pirates pass without at least a mention. That's right, the great John VanBenschoten has left the organization after being removed from the 40-man roster, thus ending the JVB error...I mean era. And what an era it was, as JVB and his partner-in-crime (and that crime was stealing first round money from the Pirates) Bryan Bullington have both been given the boot over the last few months. So long JVB, I hear you found employment as the batting practice pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. I'm sure your terrible soft tosses will be almost as good as whatever 90-year-old arthritic you are replacing.

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