Phil Irwin was a 21st round pick in 2009, and didn't require a huge bonus to sign. Photo by: David Hague

Phil Irwin Claimed Off Waivers By the Rangers

The Texas Rangers have claimed right-handed pitcher Phil Irwin from the Pirates. Irwin was designated for assignment last week, making room for right-handed reliever Josh Wall.

The move to DFA Irwin was a questionable one, and not an example of good roster management. About 30 minutes after announcing the move, the Pirates announced that they designated Wandy Rodriguez for assignment, creating an open spot on the 40-man roster. You’d think that the Pirates could have designated Rodriguez for assignment, which would have allowed them to keep Irwin.

Furthermore, they had Jason Grilli returning a day later, and ended up designating Vin Mazzaro for assignment on Monday. That means they’ve currently got two open spots on the 40-man roster, all while losing Irwin on waivers.

Irwin isn’t the biggest loss. He had struggled this year, and was removed from the Indianapolis rotation to become a reliever. But he did have one of the best curveballs in the system, and had the potential to be a reliever in the majors, with the shot of pitching long relief or spot starting. Aside from his value, you don’t want to give away any talent for free. It doesn’t seem like the Pirates needed to lose Irwin, especially since they had an open roster spot less than an hour after announcing he was designated for assignment.

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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, 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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  • Lee Young

    Tim….how DARE you criticize Pirate management! Doncha know that you’re just a shill for the FO??

    • deacs

      I’m more than a little confused by this because the reason they didn’t bring up say Chris Dickerson for a few games when the OF was thin is because they didn’t want him on the 40 man roster and would have to DFA someone. The whole point was to hold on to your assets. And so this happens. That being said I don’t think this will come back and bite them in the rear.

      • Lee Young

        agree….they said Irwin had lost his stuff. Sometimes pitchers don’t bounce back 100% from RC surgery.

        Keeping my fingers crossed for JT and Holmes.

    • Andy Prough

      I’m not saying management didn’t screw this up royally. But anyone thinking that the Pirates still could get anything of real value for Irwin is probably not facing reality. Face it – you can have all the “stuff” in the world, but at some point you’ve got to perform. I don’t think anyone was knocking down the door trying to trade anything of value for Phil.

      • stickyweb

        True enough Andy, but he is coming off surgery. I think the “give away an asset” argument hinges on Irwin improving to the point where he was before surgery, i.e. a decent starter at AAA that could bring a fringe type prospect who didn’t need to be on the 40 man for a year or 2.

    • lonleylibertarian


      You forgot they are the BMTIB!

      Otherwise they might have cut that awesome Bret Morel loose – imagine how devastating a loss that would have been!

  • Lee Young

    I think Tim needs a special archive for all of his articles that criticize the Pirates. So when it is brought up by the idiots (and it WILL be brought up), him, me or anyone else can just link to it.

  • IC Bob

    I would not criticize the Bucs here I really believe they don’t see him as anymore then organizational depth at this point. I don’t think the Bucs feel he will ever be ML pitcher again and there is no reason keeping him around taking up space at AAA if you already have made up your mind. They did Irvine a huge favor and they cleared up a roster spot for someone who probably better understands his role.

  • Jared

    It is, in fact, odd that the team let him go so easily when they did not have to. However, with Worley pitching well (a dominant start today included) and the organizations off infatuation with Jeff Locke there really does not seem to be a ton of room for Irwin. If several of the Pirate starters continue to struggle and struggle badly with command in a lot of starts Worley could well be a very good replacement. He was very successful in Philadelphia a couple years ago and has pitched well with Indy this far. His production right now may be enough to have cemented Irwin’s departure.

  • Y2JGQ2

    Tim- you’ve mentioned plenty of times where the pirates have done this over the years. They, quite often, don’t spend enough time on the “little things” usually its on the field, but you can see it carries over to the front office, or maybe vice versa. Small, but easily avoidable, roster management errors. There is no way this is more than an error, because there’s no reason you don’t keep him pitching in AAA, literally none. I wish someone would actually ASK Littlefie…..I mean Huntington about these type of things. REAL things, he can ACTUALLY comment on, because he is in charge of them. Food for thought. That being said, yes….it likely won’t matter, we will likely need the roster spot sooner or later, but if you make enough of these small errors over the course of a few years, it has a cost, whether its an extra 1 million dollars wasted, 1 extra win which we get that we wouldn’t have otherwise, and attention to detail and focus need to be at the center of any small market team with long term success.

  • duckwoes

    In regards to Worley, does he have option(s) remaining? If so, he could be a valuable starting pitching depth option going forward

    • Jared

      He is out of options. That is how the Pirates obtained his services.

      • duckwoes

        Thanks, I thought that was the case but I just could not figure out how the Phillies used two options with him. Not that it matters but he must have been added mid season in 2010, optioned to the minors and optioned again for the first part of 2011

  • R Edwards

    Good job NH – lose Irwin, while keeping stiffs like Decker and McGinness on the 40 man roster. Smart move Neal!

    We may lose Mazzaro too, while we keep the awful Gomez on the roster. the only thing that has been worse than this team’s play on the field, has been the personnel decisions for the past 6-9 months. Stupid.

    • smurph

      I agree DFA ing Mazzaro was a mistake. However, with Irwin I think his upside is not that high. Probably less than 50-50 he will pitch in the majors.

  • R Edwards

    Well, there was some good news today in the Pirates organization – Tyler Glasnow is back!!!

  • BallHeadWonder

    Can someone again tell me WHY THE HELL IS BRYAN MORRIS STILL ON THE TEAM??? I don’t think, I know we will lose when he comes in the game!!! He is ABSOLUTELY AWFUL!!!!

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