A few updates from Dejan Kovacevic over at the PBC Blog from the last two days:
-The Pirates have expressed interest in former Pirates Xavier Nady and Ron Villone. DK mentions that the team is just contacting these players to let them know they’d be interested if they’re available closer to Spring Training. Nady would be a good buy low option at this point for first base and right field. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery, but it would be worth the risk to see if he could re-produce his 2008 numbers.
You may remember Villone as the Opening Day starter in 2002. Villone has combined for a 4.40 ERA in relief over the last three years, but has horrible control with a 5.4 BB/9 ratio. He turns 40 in January, so I doubt the control problems will go away. In 2008 he had a .176 BAA versus left handers, but failed to repeat that last year with a .293 BAA versus left handers. I’d only consider him as a NRI.
-The Pirates are one of six teams to ask about shortstop Bobby Crosby. I’m not a huge fan of Crosby. He hit for a .239/.319/.426 line with 22 homers in 545 at-bats in his rookie season. Since then he has hit for a .239/.302/.366 line with a homer every 47 at-bats, compared to the 25 AB/HR ratio his rookie year. Crosby is strong defensively, with a career 4.1 UZR/150 at shortstop (Jack Wilson by comparison is a 5.9). I would rather have Ronny Cedeno at the plate, but Crosby could be better on the field. Overall I don’t think it’s an upgrade, although DK brings up a good point that Crosby could push Cedeno to improve, especially on defense. I wonder if Crosby would wear number 87 if he signed with the Pirates.
-The Pirates have expressed a mild interest in Clay Hensley. This would also likely be a NRI signing if it happened. Hensley had a strong season in the San Diego rotation in 2006, with a 3.71 ERA in 187 innings, along with a 1.34 WHIP, a 5.87 K/9, and a 3.66 BB/9. He didn’t repeat that success in the majors the next two seasons, with a 6.17 ERA in 89 innings, mostly in relief. The big change was a drop in control, as Hensley saw his BB/9 ratio dip to 5.8. He has pitched mostly in AAA the last three years, with a 4.56 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP, a 6.3 K/9, and a 3.52 BB/9 ratio. Hensley turned 30 in August, and would probably serve as bullpen depth out of AAA if signed.
Also, DK had a good write up this morning about what “interest” really means. He cites two examples from last year, with Ramon Vazquez and Derrick Turnbow, showing the different between the levels of interest. It’s hard to say how interested the Pirates have been in any of the names thrown out this week, although judging by DK’s comments, the Pirates seem to be the most interested in Rick Ankiel.