Pirates close to signing Hinske

I’ve been busy today with the last day of the conference. Tough stuff today. Was out with a bunch of guys from Yahoo and ESPN last night until around 4, woke up today around 9:30, then went to Chick-fil-a for breakfast, only to find that they were giving out free chicken biscuits every Wednesday this month. I hope this isn’t just a Florida thing. Then after taking Orlando Hudson and Travis Snider in the never-ending FSTA Experts’ league draft, I stuck around for the final two panels, and enjoyed a few beers on the golf course in some nice Florida weather.

Of course tomorrow I head back to Virginia, where my wife tells me that they’ve cleared the roads, but had a wintery mix the last few days. Not looking forward to that.

I checked on the Pirates yesterday and saw they were interested in Luis Gonzalez. I checked today to find they were targeting Eric Hinske, and a deal was close. I’m much happier about the Hinske news. I don’t even mind that it could mean the end of Doug Mientkiewicz. Even though I’m a fan of Doug, I think Hinske brings a little more to the team. First, Hinske vs Gonzo:

Luis Gonzalez

Ignoring the fact that Gonzalez is 41 years old, let’s look at his numbers the last few years:

2005: .271/.366/.459, 24.13 AB/HR in 579 ABs
2006: .271/.352/.444, 39.07 AB/HR in 586 ABs
2007: .278/.359/.433, 30.93 AB/HR in 464 ABs
2008: .261/.336/.413, 42.63 AB/HR in 341 ABs

Total: .271/.355/.441, 31.77 AB/HR in 1970 ABs

I feel that if we go for Gonzalez, the Pirates are looking at a maximum .270 season, with about 10 homers in 300-350 ABs. I don’t trust him to make a huge improvement on his 2008 numbers with Florida, so you pretty much know the level of play you’re going to get, and the above projection represents the maximum of that performance.

Eric Hinske

To be fair, let’s look at the 31 year old Hinske over the last four years:

2005: .262/.333/.430, 31.80 AB/HR in 477 ABs
2006: .271/.353/.487, 21.31 AB/HR in 277 ABs
2007: .204/.317/.398, 31.00 AB/HR in 186 ABs
2008: .247/.333/.465, 19.05 AB/HR in 381 ABs

Total: .251/.335/.447, 24.46 AB/HR in 1321 ABs

If they were the same age, I’d take Gonzalez over Hinske. The fact that Hinske is ten years younger, has more power, and plays multiple positions gives him a big edge over Gonzalez in my book. While Gonzalez has put up strong numbers over the last few years, I think the chances of Hinske rebounding from his slumping 07/08 numbers are better than Gonzalez maintaining or improving his 08 numbers.

As for Hinske vs Mientkiewicz:

05-08 Totals

Hinske: .251/.335/.447, 24.46 AB/HR in 1321 ABs
Mientkiewicz: .269/.349/.406, 47.27 AB/HR in 1040 ABs

Mientkiewicz his for a better average, and has a slightly better OBP, but Hinske has much more power, and plays better defense at third and the outfield. The Pirates have bigger question marks at third base (Andy LaRoche) and the corner outfield spots (Morgan/Moss/Pearce) than they do at first base (Adam LaRoche). I’m not counting any of those players out yet, but it would be nice to have insurance if they don’t pan out, and Hinske is much better at those positions than Mientkiewicz.

Virgil Vasquez Signed

As for the salary database, I threw everything on my laptop before leaving, but forgot the files for the featured articles, which means that information will have to be updated tomorrow (which doesn’t matter for Hinske, since he hasn’t signed, but matters for adding Virgil Vasquez to the 40-man roster). As for Vasquez, some numbers on him:

AA: 6.36 K/9, 2.84 K/BB, 1.08 HR/9 in 258.1 IP
AAA: 6.51 K/9, 3.11 K/BB, 1.53 HR/9 in 159 IP

He has decent strikeout numbers, and very good K/BB ratios, but his homers are a little high. At least we finally got a pitching project (Vasquez is 26) that has some control and doesn’t walk everyone he faces.

The recent addition of Vasquez means someone would have to come off the 40-man roster if Hinske were to be signed. Without looking too hard, my choice would be Romulo Sanchez. He just brings nothing to the table for me. A Hinske signing would also put the projected payroll around $51 M, giving the Pirates about $3 M left to spend if they wanted to go for a pitcher.

Starting Pitching Options

Speaking of pitching options, Jon Garland signed with the Diamondbacks. That doesn’t bother me too much. To sum it up, my wants are:

1. Sign a veteran starter
2. Make sure it’s not Braden Looper (Technically Tim, that’s not a want, it’s a don’t want, and you totally made up that designation term while putting words in to our heads)

Looper is talking to the O’s, the Mets are still targeting Ollie, the Dodgers are down to Looper or Wolf, and not much on Pedro or Ben Sheets, except that Sheets wants a guaranteed contract.

I don’t think the Pirates have enough to guarantee a contract for Sheets, although I’d love to sign him. I may do more on Sheets tomorrow. I still think the Mets land Ollie, the Dodgers land Wolf, and the Pirates take their pick of Pedro or Looper (hopefully Pedro). Check back tomorrow on my thoughts on Sheets.

Chase Wright DFAd

An interesting name that recently was DFAd by the Yankees: Chase Wright. Wright is 26, and has put up the following stat lines:

AA: 5.52 K/9, 1.71 K/BB, 0.76 HR/9 in 154 IP
AAA: 4.35 K/9, 1.16 K/BB, 0.59 HR/9 in 122.2 IP
MLB: 7.20 K/9, 1.33 K/BB, 4.50 HR/9 in 10 IP

When I first saw this, I was checking MLBTR on my phone, and didn’t have access to Wright’s numbers, but remembered he had a good season. After looking them over, I can’t say I want the Pirates to go for him. Low K/9 ratios and poor control combined tell me that last year was a fluke. So I could have just left this out, but I threw this in there in case you were thinking “Hey Tim, what do you think about Chase Wright being DFAd by the Yankees?” (But Tim, unlike you, a lot of us don’t like the ex-Yankees pitchers we already have, so why add more


Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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