The Pirates have cut Tom Gorzelanny and Jose Tabata from the major league portion of camp, sending both to the minors. This leaves 43 players in camp, including three pitchers fighting for the final two rotation spots.
Tabata is not a surprise. He has 383 at bats at AA, and none at AAA in his career. All of those AA at-bats came last year. He struggled in 294 at bats with the Yankees, posting a .248/.319/.310 line with a 98 AB/HR ratio. After joining the Pirates he quickly turned things around with a .348/.402/.562 line and a 29.67 AB/HR ratio in 89 at bats.
The Pirates will probably send Tabata to AA to start the year, making sure his progress wasn’t a fluke, although from the looks of his performance in Spring Training (.407 average), AA might not be much of a problem. I expect him to spend a few months there, get called up to AAA, and spend about a year at AAA before getting the call to the majors no sooner than May 1st, 2010, and no later than June 2010 (which keeps him under Pirates’ control through the 2016 season).
Gorzelanny was a bit of a surprise, but again, due to timing. I wrote yesterday that Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, and Ian Snell had rotation spots locked up, and the final two spots would likely come down to Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens. I’m just surprised that the decision was made so quickly on Gorzelanny.
Gorzelanny came up in 2006 for 11 starts, posting a 3.79 ERA. In 2007 he posted a 3.88 ERA in 32 starts. Then the wheels fell off the wagon in 2008, as he posted a 6.66 ERA in 21 starts in the majors, before putting up a 2.06 ERA in seven AAA starts.
The past success had Gorzelanny on the inside track for a starter job coming in to Spring Training. He showed up to camp in much better shape, securing that notion. However, in nine Spring Training innings he allowed seven runs, five walks, and four strikeouts, showing that his control issues were still a factor.
With Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, and Virgil Vasquez still remaining in camp, and Vasquez getting shelled by the Yankees last night, it looks like Ohlendorf and Karstens will fill the final two spots of the rotation. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jason Davis gets some looks now as a starter. According to Jennifer Langosch, Davis had a hamstring injury which prevented him from stretching out his arm. He’s now working to get in to starter mode, and my guess is that with Gorzelanny out of camp, Davis will have more time to work on that. He’s still behind everyone else, so I don’t foresee him winning a starting job.