Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Picimg_jaysphillies_c1f6

Check out Part 1 of the series here, and Part 2 here, where available hitters were covered.

The third in a multi-part series laying out what pieces are available to the Pittsburgh Pirates, how well they’ll mesh with the team, and what the Pirates may have to move in return…      (Opening image Zack Greinke, Image credit uweblogsports)

Part 3:  Available pitchers, and their suitability grade with the current team roster

Hamels; Image credit philly.com

B+  SP Cole Hamels (L), Philadelphia Phillies

2012 Season:  10-4, 3.20 ERA, 9.0 K/9

Hamels or Geinke.  Take your pick for the best arm available at the deadline.  Both are only 28, and utterly dominant.  I gave Hamels the slight edge, simply due to most teams’ unwillingness to deal within their own divisions, and the fact that he’s a lefty made for PNC Park.  Despite constantly living in the shadows of rotationmates Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and one-time mate Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels has been absolute gold for the past 3 seasons.  In fact, subtracting his 4.32 ERA 2009 season as a statistical outlier, he hasn’t finished with an ERA above 3.39 since his rookie year of 2006.  He’s the ace stud in almost any rotation outside of Philadelphia.

B+  SP Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers

2012 Season:  9-3, 3.32 ERA, 9.0 K/9

A lot of people are talking Greinke to the Pirates, simply because the similarly small-market Brewers acquired him two years ago after a long run of losing themselves.  The 6’2″ righty hasn’t disappointed, compiling a 25-9 cumulative record for Milwaukee over the past 2 seasons, propelling the Brewers through a hard-fought 6-game loss to the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series in 2011.

Like Hamels, Greinke is in the twilight of his current contract, set to expire at the end of the season.  So the only reason these compatibility grades aren’t A’s isn’t due to a lack of talent- both pitchers would immediately become the best arms in the Pirates’ already-overachieving rotation- but rather due to a deficiency of adequate trade chips in return.

The Pirates do have them, but while they may be willing to part for #2 prospect SP Jameson Taillon and/or #3 prospect OF Starling Marte for at least 3 years’ worth of young Diamondbacks’ stud OF Justin Upton, it’s unlikely they’d ante up such chips for what’s assuredly a rental through October at the latest.  Despite the Nutting ownership’s willingness to spend on the draft and international signings, Pirates’ fans are still a ways away from seeing the team compete for marquee free agents that could command upwards of $15,000,000-$20,000,000 a season.

C+  SP Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs

2012 Season:  4-3, 1.99 ERA, 7.3 K/9

After Hamels and Greinke, there’s a significant dropoff in quality, and hence a drop in compatibility grades.  Dempster boasts a stellar, league-leading 1.99 ERA…but it comes attached to a 35-year old’s body, and an inconsistent handful of years that culminated in a 4.80 ERA in 2011.  Dempster still strikes out a LOT of batters (over 200 in 2010), and on an expiring contract himself, would cost far less than Hamels or Greinke to acquire…yet the chance of him anchoring a rotation down the stretch is far less likely.

Garza pondering an NL Central move; Image credit bleachernation

C  SP Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs

2012 Season:  4-7, 4.32 ERA, 8.3 K/9

Despite a roster of big names, the Cubs are just so utterly terrible this year that they’re bound to be at the forefront of countless trade rumors.  Garza has one arbitration year remaining, yet is already earning $9.5MM, so he’s a rather expensive option for a guaranteed contract in 2013, as his salary is bound to increase even further.  After being traded from Tampa Bay for a bevy of prospects, Garza posted a very solid 2011, finishing 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA and 9.0 K/9.  But in 2012, his ERA has risen a full run, while his K/9 has dropped slightly.

Like Dempster, SP that whiff nearly a batter an inning will never go out of style, or demand.  But neither would be the staff ace the Pirates need to vault themselves into legitimate NL Pennant contention.

C  SP Wandy Rodriguez (L), Houston Astros

2012 Season:  7-6, 3.38 ERA, 5.9 K/9

Had Rodriguez’s K/9 not dropped over each of the past five seasons (career high of 8.6 in 2008), he’d be a much more attractive option, as the 33-year old lefty is signed through 2013 at $11.3MM, with a 2014 team option.  Despite the declining ability to miss bats, Rodriguez has consistently finished each year since 2008 with a 3.00-3.60 ERA and around a .500 record on Astros’ teams that haven’t been competitive since then.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I didn’t include anyrelief pitchers, because the Pirates’ pen has been so oustanding that I find it highly unlikely that they pursue any upgrades there.  Despite the success of the rotation to date, I do believe they need to acquire another arm for the stretch run.  The tradeoff is this:  Hamels and Greinke are the clear, staff ace upgrades that would make the team an immediate contender.  But the cost will be substantial, and the Pirates stand next to no chance at extending them beyond 2012.

Dempster, Garza, and Rodriguez would upgrade the middle of the rotation after A.J. Burnett and James McDonald, but would they be improvements enough over SP/RP Brad Lincoln, and AAA SP Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, and Justin Wilson to be worth the prospects they’ll command in trade?

Only time will tell.  It should be an interesting July, if GM Neal Huntington is serious about this team contending.

Thanks for reading.  Follow me on Twitter @jim_krug

1 Comment:
  • Jamel's between McDonald and Burnett can you say division title
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jim Harbaugh won in laser tag by 'hunting' 10-year-old kid

Eddie Lacy is ‘very blind,’ refuses to wear goggles

Michael Phelps pleads guilty to DUI, gets probation

NFL scouts not in love with Amari Cooper?

Report: No teams interested in trading for Lance Stephenson

It is not Chip Kelly's fault if Eagles miss playoffs

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

NBA games of the weekend: Rondo's Dallas debut, Bulls-Grizz

Tuscaloosa students will have two days off if Bama plays in National Championship

Brady scares the **** out of his teammates celebrating

Longhorn Network’s yule log? Five hours of BEVO

Will a Chiefs WR finally catch a TD in Week 16?

Jon Lester and the Cubs

The Toronto Raptors reveal their new logo

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Why the Saints are legit playoff threat

Impact of U.S.-Cuba relations on MLB

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.