December 7, 2010

Pirates Sign Kevin Correia

Good news early Tuesday morning as the Pirates signed righthanded pitcher Kevin Correia to a two-year deal worth $8 million.

Entering his age 30 season, Correia has been hit or miss - his last five ERAs are 3.49, 3.45, 6.05, 3.91 and 5.40. Obviously there's some talent there, but the inconsistency causes him to drop to the Pirates on a pretty cheap contract.

I mentioned Correia as one of the two pitchers wanted the Pirates to sign this offseason, although I expected Correia to sign for closer to $2 million after his poor year in 2010. He has a 91 mph fastball with decent movement and in 2010, added a cutter to an arsenal that also includes a good slider and a mediocre curveball and changeup - all of which he threw at least 10% of the time. The enhanced arsenal helped him to raise his strikeout rate to 7.1 per nine innings, and he also induced a career high 49% ground ball rate. Unfortunately his other rates went up too, and his 1.49 WHIP and 1.2 HR/9 doomed him to a 5.40 ERA and ultimately a spot on the bench for September.

The 2009 season better illustrates Correia's upside as he allowed only a 1.30 WHIP and went 12-11, 3.91. He finished that season with six consecutive quality starts in September (3-1, 1.71) which was even more impressive since his 198 innings exceeded his previous career high by 74.

This isn't a Cliff Lee signing, but I like this move. Let's face it, ace-level pitchers are not coming to Pittsburgh for the amount the Pirates are offering. Correia at least is a guy who can strike batters out, who has had success elsewhere, and who is still in the prime of his career. A #4 starter on most teams, he'll be the Pirates' #2 - putting him in line to start the home opener exactly four months from today.

In a year when Brad Penny, who hasn't pitched since May, is ranked by ESPN as the #21 free agent overall, Correia is not a bad guy to bring in compared to the alternatives. The free agent list has a lot more Suppans than Cliff Lees. Which brings me to...

Scott Olsen Signs One Year Deal
Former Marlins and Nationals starting pitcher Scott Olsen has agreed to a one year deal with the Pirates. Like the Correia signing this will become official when Olsen passes a physical.

Olsen is another former hyped-up prospect who comes to the Pirates after several years of failing. His best season was actually his rookie year way back in 2006 when he went 12-10, 4.04, for Florida, including 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He and Dontrelle Willis were going to be Marlins aces for years to come. But since then, Olsen has compiled only a mediocre 5.9 K/9 over the past four seasons while also giving up 1.4 HR/9 as batters hit .288/.352/.478 against him. Yes, the average batter, an average including opposing pitchers, is as good as Andrew McCutchen when they face this guy.

I am not sure why the Pirates constantly sign pitchers who range from bad to terrible. Just in the 2010, Neil Huntington brought in Brian Burres, Sean Gallagher, Wil Ledezma, Jack Taschner, Dana Eveland, Chris Leroux, and Hayden Pennetierre. All of these guys were bad to terrible with all their other teams and bad to terrible here. What about our coaching staff makes Neil think that these guys will all of a sudden be good when they show up in Pittsburgh? I hope Olsen isn't a serious candidate for the five-man rotation, and I fear that he is.

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