- The Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have approached first baseman Adam LaRoche about a long-term contract. The team is considering a three or four year deal with LaRoche, 28. At this point, he has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. I mentioned a few days ago that I am not totally sold on a long-term deal for Matt Capps, but I think it would be a good idea in LaRoche’s situation. The unpredictability of a hitter’s performance is much lower than that of a reliever. I believe that his miserable start last season was an aberration, and that the real Adam LaRoche is somewhere between the guy that went .285/.354/.561 in 2006 and the one that hit .272/.345/.458 in 2007. Considering the average National League first baseman hit .284/.365/.481 last year, I feel LaRoche can be an above average hitter for the next few seasons. The main concern is whether he can reestablish his power. In addition, a cost controlled Adam LaRoche would be much more valuable as trade bait.
- Neal Huntington has stated that the Pirates will make few changes to the current roster before the season starts. That means the Pirates will likely have a less talented team in 2008 than it did during a 2007 season in which they managed only 68 wins. Also, no major improvements were made to the farm system. Huntington has a few interesting quotes in today’s PG:
I would say there is a pretty good nucleus in place with the major-league roster, particularly the rotation. I would argue, too, that, if you go around the diamond with our everyday players, there are as many as five who underachieved last year. If just three of those five meet or exceed expectations, those 68 wins become greater.
At the same time, we’re realistic. We know this team lost 94 games last year, and we don’t want to bury our heads in the sand and say, well, things are just going to get better. We have to think not just about the 2008 club but also the 2009 club, the 2010 club. That’s what we need to be talking about here, the whole organization getting better, not just the major-league club. We want to be a championship-caliber organization.
Based on these statements, it is hard to determine what Huntington’s plans are. Does he believe this team can actually compete without making major changes? Is he trying to boost the trade value of his players by appearing comfortable with their ability to win? Is he simply saying the right things to keep the trust of the players? Does Huntington himself know what he plans to do? Expect more thoughts on this in a future post.
- Chris Duffy seems enthusiastic to play baseball, and he claims to be healthy for the first time since 2005. I am not sure what that means regarding his performance, as his most successful period of hitting came after his promotion to Pittsburgh near the end of that season. I would think that Duffy is pretty much out of the center field picture for the Pirates, but it might be interesting to keep an eye on him in Indianapolis this season.