Pirates to pay for giving up on Gorzy

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Seven pitchers have started games for the Pirates this season, with ERAs ranging from 3.45 to 6.09.  Tomorrow, that number will expand to eight, with the newly acquired Kevin Hart making his debut for the Diamondbacks.  Going the other way in that trade with the Cubs was Tom Gorzelanny, who, quite bizarrely, wasn’t included in the group of starters.


Despite some lingering questions about the health of his arm, Gorzelanny was considered one of the Pirates’ building blocks two years ago, when he went 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA as a 24-year-old.  A complete and total collapse followed in 2008, as he finished 6-9 with a 6.66 ERA.  He allowed more walks (70) and homers (20) in 105 1/3 innings than he did in 201 2/3 innings the year before.  He didn’t miss time due to injury until mid-September, when he injured a finger ligament.  He did complain of shoulder tightness in April, but he pitched through it.


When spring 2009 arrived, the assumption was that Gorzelanny would have every opportunity to win back his rotation spot.  However, after some early struggles, he was sent down with still more than two weeks to go.  When he was recalled in mid-May, it was to pitch out of the pen, a role he had never filled as a pro.  The Pirates didn’t even give him a couple of appearances in Triple-A for him to get used to it.  He spent three weeks on the roster, giving up five runs in 8 2/3 innings, and then returned to starting in Triple-A.  From that point on, he went on an incredible roll, posting a 1.17 ERA in eight starts for Indianapolis.  Still, the Pirates opted to trade him without ever taking another look at him.  It wasn’t a money issue, as he’s making barely more than the minimum.  He’s not going to be eligible for free agency until after 2013.


The Cubs wasted no time in putting Gorzelanny into the rotation after acquiring him, and he allowed one run and three hits over 7 1/3 innings in his debut Tuesday.  He struck out six and walked just one.  The now 27-year-old lefty looked nothing like the pitcher he did last year.  He was throwing 89-92 mph consistently and showing an improved slider.  As should have been obvious to anyone, he still has the stuff to win in the big leagues.


Of course, there’s no guarantee it will last.  Gorzelanny has had elbow issues in the past, and we know from last year that he can lose his command and become completely useless in the blink of an eye.  He’s also not exactly a slave to conditioning.  But the Pirates treated him as little more than a throw-in in a deal that brought them two expendable pitchers from the Cubs.  This wasn’t Ian Snell, who failed in back-to-back years and no longer wanted to pitch for Pirates.  This was a guy who had one bad year.  It’s mindblowing that the Pirates never gave him a second chance.  If Tuesday’s performance was any indication, they’ll be regretting it soon enough.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.