In November 2010, Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly spoke about improving the Pirates pitching for 2011, particularly the starting rotation.
The only attempts the Pirates made to improve the rotation was to add Kevin Correia and acquire Scott Olsen. In January, I asked Coonelly if these two moves filled the need.
"I very much believe that adding Kevin Correia to the rotation and acquiring Scott Olsen to compete for the fifth starter spot has bolstered our starting rotation," said Coonelly.
He added, "I am also convinced that the most significant improvement in our rotation will come from pitchers who were in the organization in 2010, whether they be pitchers who pitched in Pittsburgh or our minor league system."
Bolster the rotation? Hardly! I don't believe Olsen ever threw a pitch for the Pirates, and Correia started out well posting a 7-4 record with a 3.42 ERA and 1.20 WHIP through June 1. However, from that point he posted a 5-7 record with a 6.17 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. His season was cut short on August 19 with a strained oblique.
I questioned then why Brian Burres, the Pirates best pitcher in September 2010, was not really being consider as a competitor for the fifth spot in the rotation.
I realized that in early January 2011, Coonelly remarked that the Pirates did not want to block the talented young starters who led the Altoona Curve to the 2010 Eastern League Championship, but Burres had shown he was capable of pitching in this rotation.
He posted a 2-0 record with a 1.75 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in September 2010, with the exception of the September 23 start against St. Louis.
Again this September, Burres was given the opportunity to pitch with the big league club and performed very well. He recorded a 1-0 record with a 3.86 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, leaving me wondering why he is not given more of an opportunity.
The Pirates have struggled for years with weak rotations and do not appear ready to spend big dollars to improve. Yet, some of the pieces for improvement are already in the organization. They just need to give them the opportunity.