Originally written on WHYGAVS?  |  Last updated 11/18/14

It's hard to avoid the conclusion at this point that the Pirates won't be making any more significant upgrades to their rotation. In the last few weeks two guys they seemed to have targeted this winter based on prior connections to Clint Hurdle -- Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis -- both signed minor league deals with contenders. Former Pirate Paul Maholm signed a very reasonable deal with the Cubs. Maholm said that the Pirates expressed little to no interest in bringing him back, while I can't really see any reason to think that Cook or Francis were on the club's radar for the last six weeks or so. They haven't shown any interest in Edwin Jackson, either, so it really seems unlkely that anything else is in the offing. 

This seems like a problem to me. The rotation is currently comprised of the oft-injured Erik Bedard, the already-injured Charlie Morton, the inconsistent James McDonald, the magician Jeff Karstens, the not-very-good Kevin Correia, and the unproven Brad Lincoln. Help from the minor leagues at this point is Jeff Locke, maybe Rudy Owens if he's healthy (which we're not sure he is), and a longshot (at least early in the year) in Kyle McPherson. The NRIs at the moment that are capable of starting are Shairon Martis and Jo-Jo Reyes (and Gerrit Cole, who's not coming to Pittsburgh until September at the absolute very earliest and probably won't arrive until 2013 or later). You can make a fair argument that Martis and Reyes are higher-upside guys than Cook or Francis, but that doesn't mean that they're going to be good and that doesn't solve the club's current problem of just not having enough Major League quality pitchers to adequately cover a starting rotation. 

That just doesn't sit well with me. The club has at least a little bit more money to spend and I thought it was pretty clear that the rotation was what needed the most help entering the off-season. It's possible that the rotation will be fine, of course, because Bedard and McDonald and Morton and even Lincoln to a lesser extent give them guys much more talented than the Pirates usually have in their rotation. For that rotation to really be useful, Bedard would have to be unusually healthy and Morton would have to have pretty much no down time in recovery from his hip surgery. It could happen, just like Reyes or Martis could suddenly turn the clock back to 1998, but it seems to me that the club has had plenty of chances to add some more depth and insurance to this pitching staff at a reasonable cost and the front office has failed to do so. 


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