- Grove City, Pennsylvania


December 6, 2012

EXTRA INNINGS: Pirates seek pitching

OPINION — The grass is seldom greener. The Pittsburgh Pirates went into baseball’s winter meetings this week in Nashville in search of starting pitching.

Remembering the Bucs’ concern about payroll, that A. J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez are firmly entrenched as solid 1-2 starters, and that James McDonald is being counted on to bounce back as the number three starter, how about considering these two for the back end of the 2013 pitching rotation:

ä A 32-year-old right hander who won 24 games in 61 starts over the past two years (12 wins each season) when he amassed a 4.49 ERA at a salary of $4 million in 2011 and $3 million in 2012.

ä A 30-year-old right hander who won 14 games in 41 starts over the past two seasons (nine wins last year and five in this injury-plagued year). His 3.38 ERA in 2011 was followed by a 3.97 ERA this year. He made $1.1 million last year and $3.1 million in 2012 and is projected to get about $4 million in arbitration.

While neither is to be confused with Cy Young, we’re talking about projected number four and five starters.

If it sounds OK to you—it does to me—welcome to the stats of Kevin Correia (24-22 in his two years with the Bucs) and Jeff Karstens (14-13 the past two seasons).

The Bucs did their best to alienate both pitchers this season, banishing a relatively consistent Correia to the bullpen when Rodriguez arrived in Pittsburgh and dismissing Karstens to the ’pen in favor of lesser qualified youngsters during September auditions.

Management did little to indicate that they would love to see them in Pittsburgh in 2013, and they, like astute fans, saw the move as a harbinger of their unceremonious dumping to come after the season.

The Bucs made everyone feel that Correia’s departure was a foregone conclusion and that they were concerned about Kartsen’s ability to stay healthy in 2013 after pain in his hip and shoulder limited the hurler to 90 innings last year.

Funny, but physical conditioning was the same concern many voiced about Eric Bedard, to whom the Bucs gave $5 million last off-season before they unconditionally released him last August.

In addition, the Bucs just gave rehabbing pitching Charlie Morton a $2 million contract to NOT pitch in 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Even the most optimistic projections don’t have Morton back with the Bucs until August, an unrealistic forecast given his history.

As always, the Bucs explained the Karstens move through PR speak.

“It was a tough decision for us,” general manager Neal Huntington said when the pitcher was designated for assignment last week, making him the only one of the eight arbitration-eligible players to be non-tendered.

“We worked hard to reach a [contract] agreement with his agent and were unsuccessful,” Huntington added. “Our next step became trying to trade Jeff. We were unsuccessful, so we reached the decision to let him leave.”

Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review reported that Karstens began throwing two weeks ago and feels great. “It’s going well,” the writer relayed that Karstens had said. “It feels nothing like it’s felt in the past [off-seasons]. I feel happy to throw. In the past, I was nervous about even playing catch in the off-season.”

So while the Bucs search to replace two rebuffed pitchers who combined for 17 wins last season, the thought turns to whom the Bucs might have to give up to land a solid starter.

Most sources indicate that 31-year-old All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan is the team’s best bargaining chip, fresh off a 2012 that saw him post a 5-2 record with 36 saves to go with his 2.72 ERA. This followed his 1-4 record from last season, but his 40 saves and 1.83 ERA were among the best in baseball and should get him a 2013 salary in the $7 million range.

Trading Hanrahan could return a solid starter, but who would close—especially with Jason Grilli now a free agent.


Text Only
  • THE CHECKERED FLAG: April should bring welcome return of local racing

    MOTHER NATURE’S last stronghold on winter may slowly be releasing her grip as the calendar changes to April and racing begins to get under way throughout the region. 
    Locally, nothing has happened yet, but that may soon be changing. Mercer had to postpone their “Chiller Thriller” to this Saturday (April 5), weather permitting, featuring the NDRL Northeast Super Late Models, NDRL E-Mods, Crate Late Models, and Stock Cars. Mercer’s regular season opener featuring their weekly divisions of “410” Sprints, “358” Modifieds, “305” Sprints, Stock Cars, Mod Lites, and Mini Stocks has now been pushed back to April 12. 

    April 6, 2014

  • Dishing off Mercer boys bow in Guerino finals

    The Hickory girls and Farrell boys captured championships on Saturday night at the 17th annual Buddy Guerino Underclassmen Basketball Tournament at Sharpsville High School.
    The Hickory girls beat Kennedy Catholic, 41-29, for the crown while the Farrell boys topped Mercer, 76-35, for the title.
    In the consolation games, Sharpsville defeated Sharon, 35-15, in girls hoops while the Sharon boys beat Hickory, 57-33.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • EXTRA INNINGS: Bonds ruined opening day for Pirates fans

    As this column begins today its 47th year, longtime readers no doubt expected to find what they have found at the beginning of every baseball season — predictions for upcoming summer.
    And as I sat down last week to start to put together some ideas for today’s entry, that is fully what I anticipated would fill this space.
    Well, I’m as surprised as you are; 2014’s season prognostications must wait until next week.
    I just can’t get past the fact that club president Frank Coonelly thought the celebration of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first winning season in 21 years should include Barry Bonds.
    You gotta be kidding me!

    April 3, 2014

  • NCAA Football: Rock 6-1 after 17-3 win over Cal U

    Slippery Rock University rode a length-of-the-field scoring drive by its offense and a goal-line stand by its No. 1-ranked defense late in the first half of action Saturday to a 17-3 win over 14th-ranked visiting California (Pa.).

    October 19, 2011

  • steez pc.jpg NFL: Steelers top Jags as Mendenhall makes return

    Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are back. Not after watching his team sleepwalk through the second half against Jacksonville on Sunday.

    October 19, 2011 1 Photo

  • wheldon, dan pc.jpg IndyCar Racing: Crash takes Wheldon’s life

    Every race car driver heads onto the track understanding this race could be the last and hoping it won’t be. On Sunday, IndyCar drivers got a harsh reminder when the worst happened to one of their own.

    October 19, 2011 3 Photos

  • pens pc.jpg NHL: Sabres beat Penguins 3-2

    The Buffalo Sabres have had trouble with the Pittsburgh Penguins whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play or not.

    October 19, 2011 1 Photo

  • canadiens logo pc.jpg NHL Quick glance: Montreal at Pittsburgh

    A breakdown of the National Hockey League game Thursday night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Montreal Canadiens.

    October 19, 2011 4 Photos

  • High School Highlights: Oct. 19, 2011

    A look at the last few days in local high school fall sports action.

    October 19, 2011

  • washington, ron pc.jpg Leading Off: Oct. 19, 2011

    News and notes from the local, regional and national sports scene.

    October 19, 2011 5 Photos

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide