When the Pirates picked up Garrett Olson off waivers the other day he became the 14th waiver wire pickup for them in the last two years. The list of players is as follows and includes 13 pitchers and an outfielder:
Virgil Vasquez 1/27/09
TJ Beam 2/5/2009
Steven Jackson 5/18/2009
Jon Meloan 8/12/2009
Anthony Claggett 9/24/2009
Justin Thomas 10/29/2009
Chris Jakubauskas 11/20/2009
Brandon Jones 1/19/2010
Hayden Penn 3/29/2010
Chris Resop 8/4/2010
Chan Ho Park 8/4/2010
Chris Leroux 9/13/2010
Aaron Thompson 12/23/2010
Garrett Olson 3/18/2011
When you look at this list and see what they not only have left, but what they got as far as production from this group you have to wonder what they based some of these picks on. Usually when a team puts a guy on waivers there is a very good and obvious reason, which is he is the worst player in their mind on the 40 man roster and they have someone better to add. You also have to wonder a bit why they focus so much on pitching and whether they are letting hitters pass who could help out. It “helps” the Pirates case that they also pick fairly high due to their poor record so on some of these guys they were getting the first chance at picking them up. A better team has less opportunities to pick up the better players from this lesser group, but that’s a trade-off the Pirates would gladly make with them.
The question is are these moves worth making over and over for what amounts to Chris Resop and a bunch of AAAA type guys? In most cases the answer would be yes because these same 41st best guys you’re picking up are replacing your own teams 40th best player at the time, so you know what you’re losing is in your mind, expendable. It’s also possible that you may get a guy with talent who is struggling and you’re able to put him back on waivers and have him clear so he can work on things in the minors without him taking up a 40 man roster spot. While he may amount to nothing, it’s interesting to note that someone like Anthony Claggett looked good while hitting 94 mph yesterday, and you have him for what amounts to a AAA bullpen spot, not blocking or costing the team anyone where he is now.
One thing to look forward to, if you’re tired of seeing a new pitcher every couple months get hit hard before being placed back on waivers, is that at the end of the year the Pirates, barring multiple prospects being traded, will likely have a ton of guys to add to the 40 man roster. This upcoming December it’s possible they could be adding 8-10 first timers to their 40 man roster, such as Starling Marte, Diego Moreno, Justin Wilson and the entire 2010 Altoona infield, so they are protected from the Rule 5 draft. With a glut of prospects and players with 1-3 years experience on the roster, there will be less room for the expendable LOOGY/ middle innings pitchers they have been sifting through for any talent the last two years.
I would still expect to see pickups like Chris Resop who was a no-brainer when he was available, but trading the 12th man in the bullpen for somebody else’s 12 man is nothing more than hoping you can somehow find a gem in a place where other teams have already given up looking. Still, I would expect to see a few more waiver moves this year that barely make a blip on most fan’s radars, and as 8 of these 14 guys have shown already in less than two years, they will have very little chance to stick around.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.