My time in Orlando covering the Winter Meetings is about to end, but it was a very productive trip. I got a bit of everything. From shaking hands with some stars, to meeting some of my peers and some of those I strive to be like—the trip had it all.
The Pirates were a bit active as well. I mentioned the Scott Olsen deal in my prior column. Since then, the Pirates inked another starting pitcher in Kevin Correia and also signed outfielder Matt Diaz.
Both were solid baseball moves.
Correia struggled the second half of last season, ending up at 10-10 with a 5.40 ERA. The season before, he went 12-11 with a 3.90 ERA. That's what the Pirates are hoping they get in the right hander. Either way, Correia should be a slight upgrade.
I've been asked by many if Correia and Olsen are the best the Pirates could do? Well, the answer is yes. It's a thin pitching market at the moment and it doesn't make much sense for the Pirates to overpay for arms at the moment.
Sticking to the plan and nurturing some of the talented arms throughout the system makes much more sense right now. The end goal is to try and compete for years, not just to take a run at .500 next season.
In the end, they get two arms in Correia and Olsen for less then they would likely have had to pay Zach Duke—had they tendered him.
That's such an unreasonable goal anyways. The Pirates are on the right path, but they would have to make a near 50 game improvement just to approach the .500 mark. You would have a better chance at winning the Powerball.
Instead, keep letting the young guys develop and try and cut that number in half. Taking a run at .500 in 2012 is a more realistic goal. After that, the goal has to be to win.
Right now, the Pirates rotation would look like this: James McDonald, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Correia and the fifth starter will come from the likes of Brad Lincoln, Olsen or a Brian Burres type guy.
The Pirates aren't done looking for pitching though. I've heard them linked to names like Justin Duchscherer, Aaaron Heilman, Kevin Gregg, Jeremy Accardo, Kenshin Kawakami and others. The pair guys I'd like them to sign are Duchscherer and Accardo. It would be taking a chance on an injury prone guy, but if healthy both are very talented.
As far as Diaz, it's a smart move. The guy handles lefties very well and the Pirates left hand hitters don't. Look for him to play right field against southpaws and give Garret Jones some time off as well.
Good teams need good benches as well. The Diaz signing makes sense. If things go right, Andrew Lambo could be the right fielder late in the season anyways.
That's the main key. The Pirates are committed to young players. There is no need to go out and try and sign a big name right now that will block one of their prospects.
The Diaz signing likely spells the end of Ryan Doumit's Pirates career. The writing is on the wall and he will be dealt before the season begins. General Manager Neal Huntington has actively been trying to unload him and I expect it to get done before spring training opens.
In other Pirates news, they are looking for a utility type guy. I know they made an offer to Bill Hall and also have interest in Brenden Ryan.
The one area they haven't yet upgraded is shortstop. They were linked to Jason Bartlett but he was dealt to San Diego. A J.J. hardy deal has also been talked about, but he is likely headed to Baltimore.
As the market begins to die, one option could be Orlando Cabrera.
That's likely all the Pirates will do as the Winter Meetings end tomorrow morning. While the signings haven't been flashy, they have done a good job at least being active.
Remember, the goal is to win on the field consistently in the future, not win the 2010 Winter Meetings.