First: more on Matt Capps. Then: interesting non-Pirate-non-tenders.
One thing that a lot of the more hysterical reaction to the Capps non-tender is missing; it’s not like we just set Mariano Rivera free. Many of Capps’ struggles last year stemmed from the longball, but as Matt at Pittsburgh Lumber Company points out, Capps HR/FB % was always lower than league average, which is a nice indicator that his low pre-2009 ERAs are probably not sustainable. The decision to non-tender Capps instead of trading him is surprising and I don’t agree with it, but given Capps’ recent struggles and what he’s capable of, even with a bounceback, means that it’s not baffling, nor is it the end of the world.
Moving along, Capps was far from the only talented non-tender Saturday night. MLB Trade Rumors has a list of what they consider to be interesting non-tenders, as well as a list of all the non-tenders here, and a few names do stand out for a team like the Pirates. If the Pirates really are looking for an outfielder, Ryan Church would be worth a look just as much as they seem to think Rick Ankiel is. He plays good defense, can hit a little bit, has a more proven record as a big league outfielder, and might even be cheaper than Ankiel since Scott Boras isn’t involved. I still don’t think the Pirates need an outfielder, but if they’re looking at Ankiel they should be looking at Church, too. Hell, they could pick up Johnny Gomes and have an entire right field platoon. Actually, a Church/Gomes platoon is a lot like I’d all want a Moss/Pearce platoon to look like in an ideal world where they both lived up to some of their minor league promise.
Similarly, it wouldn’t hurt the Pirates to look at Chien-Ming Wang in the Justin Duchscherer role. Huntington seems to have a thing for sinkerballers and if Wang is healthy, a switch to the NL might do him good. The shoulder problem does make me nervous, though. I also like Kelly Johnson a lot, but with Iwamura, Crosby, Vazquez, and Cedeno in the mix, the Pirates don’t really need another middle infielder. And if they want relief help to replace Capps (without re-signing Capps himself), there’s always DJ Carrasco. I’d be staying away from Mike MacDougal, though.