November 18, 2010

Odds and Ends: de la Rosa, Oliver

Other than the ability to buy Pumpkin Spice Cappucino at gas stations, there's pretty much nothing to recommend about November. The baseball news is mostly of the "unwarranted speculation" variety. Here is the rest of this week's Pirates news:

Pirates Pursuing De La Rosa
The Pirates are apparently one of three front runners to sign starting pitcher Jorge de la Rosa although at least seven teams are trying to sign the righthander. Others in contention are the Orioles and Nationals. MLB Trade Rumors listed de la Rosa as the #12 free agent available this offseason, and the #3 starting pitcher (#2 now that Hiroki Kuroda has resigned with the Dodgers).

de la Rosa is a power pitcher who went 34-24, 4.49 for Colorado over the past three years and averaged a strikeout an inning. Those are excellent K numbers for a starting pitcher, and the ERA is very good for Coors Field as well. He dials it up with a 93-94 mph fastball bust his out pitches are a slider and changeup which induced a 52% ground ball ratio last year.

If the finalists truly are Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington, we might actually have the advantage. Given the Nationals' awful infield defense, I can't imagine a free agent ground ball pitcher signing with Washington unless the price really was right. And I can't imagine de la Rosa would be better off in the AL East than in the NL Central. Nevertheless, enough teams need pitching that this falls under the "I'll believe it when I see it" category.

Al Oliver A HOF Finalist
Former Pirates outfielder/first baseman Al Oliver was announced as one of 12 Hall of Fame candidates for the upcoming Veterans Committee vote. Results will be released in a few weeks.

Oliver was one of the top contact hitters in baseball for most of his career, including nine consecutive .300 hitting seasons from 1976-84. He started on five first place Pirates teams including the 1971 World Champions, and ended his career with 2743 hits and a .303 batting average along with 529 doubles, 77 triples and 219 home runs - excellent numbers for a player who played in a pitching/defense dominated era. 1490 of those hits were in a Pirates uniform before he was traded in the Bert Blyleven deal.

Vada Pinson is the only eligible player with more hits than Oliver who has not been inducted. The problem with Oliver's candidacy is that every other aspect of his game hurts him: he wasn't a good fielder (despite starting in center field here for six years), he hardly walked at all, he grounded into a lot of double plays, and he didn't steal many bases and got caught almost as much as he was successful. Only one of his skills was Hall of Fame caliber, which isn't enough.

Kratz Gone
Catcher Erik Kratz signed with the Phillies, where he'll catch at AAA Lehigh Valley and provide depth in case a major league catcher gets injured. Kratz hit .274/.380/.496 for Indianapolis last year. He also came up to Pittsburgh for a while during one of the several Ryan Doumit injuries. Behind the plate he looked like Johnny Bench in comparison to Doumit, and backed it up by throwing out four of seven base stealers. The Pirates will need to look for another strong AAA catcher given that both Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit are injury-prone.

No Coaching News Yet
Clint Hurdle did not insist on the right to choose his entire coaching staff, and the Pirates did not give it. This means that it's up in the air whether Tony Beasley will be back as third base coach. I don't see why he would be though. How many outs were made between second and third last year? That is Beasley's responsibility. It's true that he was coaching third base during the "two men on third" debacle which cost the Pirates a game. Things like that can't happen on the 2011 WFC team. There is no shortage of good baseball men who can coach third base.

No comments:

Post a Comment