Ryan Church and three more pitchers

Two bits of news today. The first is expected and boring but necessary; Ryan Church passed his physical and so his signing (one year, $1.5 million plus a bunch of plate appearance based incentives) is official. Church has had his share of health problems in recent years (notably a pretty serious concussion) that have affected his production, so it’s important that he’s healthy (quick update: FanGraphs has a favorable take on the signing for all the reasons that I like it, plus noting that he probably still has a year of arbitration eligibility left).

The second bit of news is more fun, because it lets us do some speculating. DK’s report from minicamp says that the Pirates are closing in on deals with three relievers; Octavio Dotel, DJ Carrasco, and a mystery third reliever. They sound like they’re serious about all three and it’s possible the only reason they haven’t been announced yet is because the team needs to clear space on the 40-man roster for Dotel and the third guy (Carrasco is expected to sign a minor league deal). Though the mystery pitcher’s identity is unknown, DK says it coud be Jamey Wright, Seth McClung, Kiko Calero, Brendan Donnelly, Russ Springer, or Chan Ho Park.

I’ll save the analysis for if/when these moves go down (which could be soon, I guess), but here are some quick-hit thoughts on all the stuff above.

  • I’ve always liked Dotel dating back to his days in Houston and while I’m not sure that he’s better than Hanrahan (he has his own control issues), I’d be happy with him in the back end of the pen.
  • If the Pirates sign Dotel and the mystery reliever is Calero, Connelly, or Park, the Pirate bullpen will actually have the potential to be quite good this year.
  • Why sign Dotel/mystery reliever/Javier Lopez to one year deals unless Huntington/Coonelly think the Pirates are going to be better than we all do? Just to prove that they can assemble a bullpen?
  • Answering my own question, maybe it’s simply because a good bullpen puts less stress on a starting rotation and the Pirates would like to avoid pushing Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, and Charlie Morton into Ian Snell/Kip Wells breakdowns.
  • Add Carrasco to the huge list of NRI bullpen candidates and it starts to creep towards fifteen. I think maybe they’re planning on lining them all up in a gym, hitting rubber balls at them, and having them throw to a cut-off man like a Little League tryout.
  • To make room for Dotel and Mystery Reliever, the Bucs could DFA Anthony Claggett (though it’s still interesting to me that he’s survived this far with all of the roster turnover) but the second player will likely be a position player. With the preponderance of lefties in the 1B/corner OF slots, Delwyn Young and Steve Pearce are probably safe. They might be able to trade Brandon Moss, but they wouldn’t get much in return. Alternately, they could put Brian Bixler’s Pirate career out of its misery.

I was wondering what Jeff Passan meant yesterday by this tweet, and I think now we know.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

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