Here are two rumors to wrap up the evening and day two of the Winter Meetings before I call it a night. The first rumor is from Bill Brink, who says that the White Sox and Edinson Volquez are said to have mutual interest.

This might be insignificant to the Pirates, since they have been rumored to be done with the rotation, and moving on to upgrading the bullpen. Earlier in the evening, Mike Berardino said that Volquez is looking for two years and $20 M, which is what Jason Hammel received.

My guess is that the Pirates won’t be in on Volquez at this point. As for the bullpen focus, there was a rumor today from Rob Biertempfel saying the Pirates had interest in Pat Neshek. Jerry Crasnick says that Neshek is in serious talks with three clubs, although he doesn’t mention the Pirates.

Due to the fact that the Pirates rarely spend in the bullpen, I would be surprised if they land Neshek. He’s coming off a good year, with a 1.87 ERA and a 3.29 xFIP, along with a 9.1 K/9 and a 1.2 BB/9. However, that is the first year since 2007 that he’s been more than just a replacement level reliever. Is this a Jason Grilli type case with a late bloomer? And how much is that one good season in 2014 going to raise his price tag? Neshek seems like a gamble where you’re buying high on one good season at a late age. We’ll see whether the Pirates actually get him, and from the sound of Crasnick’s tweet, we might find out sooner, rather than later.

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  1. The Astros are one of the worst teams in baseball and they are throwing millions at mediocre relievers! Lol. I’m so glad to be a Pirate fan!!!! Lol. Astros are idiots!!!!

  2. After looking at Eddie’s 2014 game logs last night, which I alluded to in an earlier thread, I’m now simply asking – did the rotation just get better or worse? If they’re indeed done with the rotation, all Bucs did was switch out EV for AJ. And IMO, that’s at best a wash and potentially a downgrade.

    Trying to stay positive, but a whole lot of things have to go right for Bucs to sustain their success this year. Locke is going to have to produce an exceptional 1st half again (and hopefully get traded for something before his 2nd half collapse comes). They can’t afford an injury before Morton returns. AJ has to find his 2012-13 fountain of youth. Liriano needs run support. Worley has to put together two good seasons, which he hasn’t done before. And Cole needs to start just shutting teams down instead of bleeding runs in every start.

    Sorry for the early morning negativity. Last year, Bucs starters managed to pitch 7 innings or more a third of the time (53/158 starts, not including Wandy). Which implies that the most important change going into this season is Holdzkom holding down the 7th inning. Seems a lot to ask from the guy, no?

    On a positive note, despite his age and somewhat lousy season, AJ got through 7 innings in 14 of his 34 starts with the Phils. Hopefully he’s got that much left in the tank this year.

    • The AJ for Eddie swap is a net positive. AJ has the longer track record and was the one with the better FIP and xFIP last year. Once he gets back into the system here and has defense behind him to turn his GBs into outs, he’ll be alright.

      As for the rest of the rotation, well, where was Worley at this time last year? Also we got the young guys to work into the majors at some point too. I don’t think the situation is as dire as you let on.

      • On the one hand, I’m happy that Neal has made the moves he has to not go backwards. But I don’t see anything yet that indicates going forward.

        Going back to the Martin discussions, Bucs lost 5+ WAR with his departure. With the positions more or less set without recovering any of that WAR save the 2 Cervelli is expected to provide, many of us were hoping the difference, plus some, would be made up in pitching. Hasn’t happened. Basically, Bucs are treading water at best right now, unless Polanco, Pedro and Cervelli all contribute 1-2 more WAR each over last year. And while that may happen, it’s certainly not assured.

    • After Volquez kind of stunk up in that Wildcard game, my long-term interest in him took a hit. Ten million a year seems a bit much for someone like him. If he can get it from Chicago, he should take it. Pirates shouldn’t be valuing him at more than about $7-8 million a year in my thinking.

    • I think the rotation to begin the season is about equal to last year…but the key this year is depth, specifically Taillon and Kingham. No I do not expect both to come up and post Kershaw numbers, but I would bank on 1 of the 2 making an impact. Until that time, Cole/Liriano/AJ are a good 1-3, Locke and Worley can be productive, Morton can slide in for Locke, and the youth can take over if needed.
      I also wouldn’t be surprised to see another buy low SP be brought in to battle Worley/Locke for opening day spots.

    • The 2014 pitching staff suffered early season problems due to Wandy and blown saves primarily by Grilli and Morris. Hopefully AJ comes to ST healthy (as well as everyone else) and the Pirates can start fast right out of the gate.

      So if the 2015 staff can avoid the early 2014 problems they will be better by default. The offense should be better as well.

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