Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable #6

Question #1:
Should the Pirates keep veterans like Salomon Torres and Damaso Marte around when they control a number of younger relievers who may be ready to step into a big league bullpen?

Matt and Alan from Bucco Wire:
We think the Pirates should keep Torres. Torres was signed at a very cheap price for a dependable reliever, compared to what others are now getting on the market. He eats a lot of innings out of the bullpen and could serve as a nice veteran presence for all the young guys. Marte, however, should be dealt. He’s a lefty that a some other teams would like to have at his cheaper price, plus his average season last year doesn’t demand him to stay in the bullpen above any younger guys.

Carson and Corey from We Should Be GM’s:

“May be ready” is the key part of this question. Almost every organization has young relievers that “may be ready” to step in and contribute on the big league roster, but will they actually pan out? Torres and Marte are proven commodities. Torres could have netted the Pirates Fatty Lieber, but they turned that deal down. So that should be an indication of the worth of a proven bullpen arms. The Pirates starting rotation is young and therefore will falter from time-to-time and fail to go deep into games leaving a lot of pressure on the bullpen. I’d rather have people like Torres and Marte in the pen logging innings than some young gun that might blow his arm out and blow the game as well. With that said, if a good deal comes Littlefield’s way for either Marte or Torres, he needs to take it. Relief help can be signed off the free agent scrap heap…ya might just get stuck with crap though.

Pat from WHYGAVS:

A bullpen is more important to a good team than it is to a team like the Pirates. The Pirates should be more concerned with filling a team that can get leads rather than a team that can hold them because let’s face it, they aren’t very good at getting leads in the first place. It’s not that they should give guys like Marte or Torres away, just that they shouldn’t hesitate to trade them if a good offer comes around. Rogers has a good minor league record, Chavez dominated the AFL, Sharpless and Bayliss have both closed well at AA and AAA respectively. They’ll find they way in the bigs if they have to.

Cory from A New Pirates Generation:

There’s something to be said for leading by example, and Salomon Torres and Damaso Marte are able to do just that. Torres is a workhorse on the field and an asset to the community off it; Marte owns a World Series ring and was a dominant left-handed specialist at a point in his career. If Mike Gonzalez is traded, Torres, Marte and John Grabow would be the veterans in the ‘pen–and with young guns such as Matt Capps, Josh Sharpless, Jonah Bayliss waiting in the wings, they would prove to be capable mentors for the Pirates’ relievers of the future. Still, Dave Littlefield has proven that he can build a strong bullpen from bit parts, and there are a number of hurlers on the 40-man roster who could earn a spot with the big club in Spring Training and never look back. If I were DL, I probably wouldn’t trade all four of my vets, but I would strongly consider moving two or three of them to address weak spots on the roster. Contending ballclubs need strong bullpens. Rebuilding teams need to give opportunities to younger players.
Andrew/azibuck commentor from Bucs Dugout:
No. Their value couldn’t be much higher than it is right now and they should trade them to the highest bidder. I could see holding Torres with the idea of having him start the season as a closer. If he does well in that role, he’ll have an even higher value and could be traded in season for a premium player. If he doesn’t do well as a closer, we can return him to middle relief and try the whole thing again next year since we control his rights and could return to form.

Randy from Buried Treasure:

The only reason to keep either guy around is to promote continuity in the clubhouse and in the community because I think the Pirates have enough quality arms around to fill in a bullpen. Any time a player is traded, some fans feel bad about it because for whatever reason that guy is his favorite player. That’s true even when trades make sense. If they trade either or both pitchers, the best case scenario is that the Pirates bring in some hitters that somehow push the team to the brink of the playoffs, but the club falls just short. It is highly doubtful that that would happen. But the worst case scenario for trading the most veteran relievers is that the hitters acquired in those trades somehow push the team to the brink of the playoffs and the bullpen glaringly and obviously folds under the pressure, costing the team a shot at the post-season. If I’m the GM, I have to entertain offers for both players and get what I feel is the best value in return given the team’s many holes. In this market, both pitchers are signed to very fair contracts. So, getting a talented hitting prospect or two should be attainable.

Jake from Bucco Blog:

Torres, sure–he fits PNC perfectly. Marte will probably stay since Gonzalez is on his way out the door and there are too many question marks about Torres closing. Besides, our younger relievers haven’t learned to pitch at the major league level yet so we can’t toss the only experience we have in the pen out the door.

Matt from Wait ‘Til Next Year:

There is nothing wrong with having Torres, Marte or any other experienced relief pitcher on the roster. These guys have been steady contributors and can help ease the transition of the younger guys from AAA to the majors. However, the depth that the Pirates have as far as young bullpen arms creates quite a bit of flexibility for the front office. The bullpen, especially Gonzalez, is strong enough that the Pirates could and should be able to turn some of it into more offense, where the Pirates are desperate for help. Obviously there has been endless speculation and rumors this offseason involving a bullpen-for-offense trade. Hopefully, one will eventually take place.
Question #2:
Does a strong winter ball season change your view of Ryan Doumit’s potential? What role suits him best heading into 2007 and beyond?

Matt and Alan from Bucco Wire:
Doumit has played well in winter seasons before and it’s never changed our mind about him. Until he plays a meaningful number of games on the big club’s roster, then nothing will. Doumit has yet to prove that he can remain healthy for a season and produce near anything he’d be able to. As of now, his role should be a backup at either catcher or first base–anywhere where his bat may be able to succeed. But even for that spot, he’d need to continue to earn it in the Spring.
Carson and Corey from We Should Be GM’s:
“Nomitt” Doumit’s potential?…ah, not much. In my opinion these fall/winter leagues have no bearing on a player’s true abilities. Doumit needs to prove himself in spring training then again for the first two months of the season to make a believer out of me. I think he could be used in a utility role where he catches once to twice a week, logs a game at first base every now and again, and also seeing time in the corner outfield positions. This would give him plenty of opportunity to show his true worth…his batting skills. If he doesn’t produce, it’s time to ship him out.
Pat from WHYGAVS:
I know I like Doumit more than a lot of other people, but I do think that if he can stay healthy he can be a good platoon player in right or first base. I really do think he’s more valuable behind the plate than Paulino is given his switch hitting and the fact that he’s got more power than Paulino, but I think his hammies are probably too fragile to put him back there again. Still, he’s a patient hitter at the plate with better power than most people we currently have on the team. He missed a lot of last year and it was obvious that his swing was rusty when he came back, but his numbers in Mexico indicate that he’s getting his swing back. It’s not the big leagues so we can’t say for sure, but I think we’ve got to get him at-bats somehow unless we can find a right fielder and a first baseman before the season starts (and I’m not trusting DL to find either).

Cory from A New Pirates Generation:

Doumit’s a valuable bench player, and there’s something to be said for having a consistent winter season. He’s been more of a slugger in the minors (as opposed to an OBP guy), so it’s refreshing to see that he’s being more selective at the plate–though some of the development of that patience is likely owed to weak VWL pitching. I still think that if Doumit’s being considered a major puzzle piece at this point, the Bucs are in trouble for the long run. But, if a big LHB is acquired and Doumit gets his AB’s as a spot starter at catcher, first base and right field, he could prove to be a valuable player for years to come. I’d think though that if the Bucs are able to bring in an Adam LaRoche, Doumit would be shopped. As a 25-year-old switch-hitting catching prospect, he would have more value on the market than he would to a squad with young talent at all of the positions he plays.
Andrew/azibuck commentor from Bucs Dugout:
No, I take winter ball performance with a grain of salt after Jose Castillo playing like Pujols in the VWL a couple years ago. I’m glad he got to play at any level after missing so much time, but I don’t see his potential in any better or worse light. The role that suits him best is a platoon, playing against righties. It would give him the most time at the plate. If he can play RF or 1B with any ability at all, I’m fine with him as a super-UT player, spelling Paulino, and platooning with Nady/whomever. Whatever role, I’d like him to get at least four starts per week. There’s no sense wearing him down given his injury history, and he might be better off at a corner IF/OF spot, but his bat will make any decision.
Randy from Buried Treasure:
Doumit’s always been a good minor league hitter, so his winter league performance didn’t surprise me or change my opinion of him. His 2006 season was marred by a leg injury. He didn’t hit particularly well when he got the chance, but the chances, other than September, were few. Barring a trade for a RF or 1B, Doumit should be given a chance to win the job as the starting catcher or 1B. I think Ronny Paulino hit for as good an average last season as he is capable of. Based on his minor league totals, I think he can hit for some more power. Doumit and Paulino are similar players. They have similar career minor league OPS numbers (Doumit has a slight edge). They were even born a couple of weeks apart in 1981. Doumit will have a role somewhere. It just might be on the bench, filling in behind the plate and at first.
Jake from Bucco Blog:
No…not one bit. He is still a Melky Cabrera type. He has a sweet swing but no position to play, which is critical in the NL.

Matt from Wait ‘Til Next Year:

A strong showing in the winter can be deceiving, as there is much lower competition in these leagues. I will not make a Ryan Doumit prediction based on his winter performance. One too many times have I said something like “Jose Castillo is going to have a breakout year, he is tearing up the winter league.” However, Doumit is still an intriguing hitter, as he has produced some good minor league numbers when he has been healthy. However, his largest obstacle is just that, staying healthy. He has missed large periods of time over the past five seasons and will not be a factor with this team if he continues that trend. In 2007, I see Doumit as a decent switch-hitter with some pop coming off the bench in late innings, and can also fill in at first base or behind the plate. He also could be a back-up plan at first base if the Pirates are unable to land the Lefty McThump they covet. But if that happens and Doumit either gets injured or does not produce in 2007, he may not get another chance with the Pirates. He already appears to have lost his chance at catcher with the emergence of Ronny Paulino, and his minor league numbers are barely mediocre when compared to those of the first baseman behind him on the depth chart. That would be Brad Eldred, who could still be a major part of this team’s future if he proves his 2006 injury is behind him.

Author: PLCArchives

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