- Dejan Kovacevic reports in today’s Post-Gazette that the Pirates are pursuing a long-term contract with closer Matt Capps. The proposed length could be up to four years, which would take Capps through his arbitration years. I have mixed emotions about this strategy. Capps is obviously one of the more valuable Pirates right now, and he is still young at 24. It might make sense to lock him up for several years. However, the performance of relievers tends to fluctuate dramatically from year to year. Also, the fact that Capps basically throws only straight fastballs worries me. He may be a player the Pirates should be looking to deal in the near future for a more valuable commodity. Like offense.
- In the same article, Dejan reports that the Pirates have backed away from long-term contract talks with Freddy Sanchez. That is a smart move. I expect Sanchez to decline quickly in the future, as he relies almost entirely on amazing contact skills at the plate. When that ability begins to diminish with age, his value will decrease rapidly. The Pirates should be looking to trade him within a year, while he is still an important contributor.
- John Perrotto reports that the Pirates have shown an interest in signing left-hander Ron Villone as a reliever. Villone, who turns 38 on January 16, was the Pirates’ opening day starter in 2002. In his career, he has an ERA of 4.76 and a WHIP of 1.48. In 2007, Villone posted a 4.25 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, striking out 25 and walking 18 in 42.1 innings with the Yankees. I am not sure how he would help the bullpen, especially with left-handers John Grabow and Damaso Marte already entrenched. However, if it is only a minor-league deal, there is little potential harm. We already have Elmer Dessens. Maybe Jimmy Anderson is also available? We can bring them all back.