While all of the baseball world had their eyes glued on Albert Pujols last night, the Pirates kept doing their own thing virtually undected by the rest of the baseball world. The best news, I thought, to come out of last night was Nick Cafardo's tweet that the Pirates are interested in Erik Bedard. Bedard is exactly the sort of high-risk/high-reward starter I want to see the Pirates after this winter. He'll always be an injury risk, but when he's healthy he's probably better than anyone the Pirates have in their rotation and the injury risk is the only thing that gives the Pirates a shot at him.
In case you're not well-versed on Bedard lore, he was a promising young pitcher with the Orioles that had a huge breakout year in 2007, which resulted in the Mariners paying a king's ransom for him that winter. He spent most of his time in Seattle injured, suffering a torn labrum in 2009 that caused him to miss all of 2010, but he came back pretty strongly last year, making 24 starts and striking out 125 hitters in 129 1/3 innings to go with his 3.62 ERA for the Mariners and Red Sox.
The danger, of course, is that Bedard is the sort of pitcher that when you see he pitched 129 1/3 innings, you say to yourself, "Hey! He was pretty healthy last year!" and really, that's not really impressive at all. He'll be 33 before the season starts, and so even with a pretty healthy year in 2011 behind him, he remains an injury risk. Still, he's a talented guy and he showed last year that he's still a talented guy, post-labrum surgery. A move to the NL could help him, and PNC Park is pretty friendly to left-handed pitching. I'm not convinced that Bedard would be all that interested in pitching for the Pirates since the Red Sox grabbed him at last year's deadline, though it's possible that other teams may want him on an incentive-laden deal and the Pirates could reel him in by guaranteeing him more money. It'd be risky to guarantee Bedard, say, $5 million, but honestly, I think that'd be a better use of funds than spending it on Aaron Cook. Still, I don't have my hopes up.
The Pirates are also apparently moving close to a deal with catcher Jose Morales, according to Ken Rosenthal. Morales will be 29 before the season starts and he was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2001 draft, spending his whole career there until moving to Colorado's organization last year. He's played 96 big league games over parts of four seasons and he's got a .289/.365/.344 line at the plate. My assumption is that it'd be a minor league deal, and then Morales would compete with Mike McKenry and Jason Jaramillo and Eric Fryer to be Rod Barajas's backup, which seems fine to me. It looks like he can at least take a walk now and then and his batting average isn't terrible, so I'd be perfectly fine with him backing up Barajas instead of McKenry or Jaramillo while we wait for Fryer or Sanchez to emerge.
I'm cool with Bedard. I agree that an incentive-laden deal would be most team-friendly but not sure the Pirates can afford to give him that if other teams are interested. I thought Morales stunk before seeing his OBP. not bad. I'll take it I guess.
I guess I'm ok with Mclouth here for a year as well, I'm just worried he'll end up stealing playing time from Jose or Alex. hopefully that doesn't happen.