Here's a quick wrapup of the Pirates' moves at the Winter Meetings. I liked some of them and disliked some, but overall, I think their week did a fair amount to improve the team. Included after each note is a rating of the likely impact of each, from 1 (very likely to be insignificant) to 10 (Erik Bedard).
-P- Signed outfielder Nate McLouth to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. As I noted at the time, I think the Bucs overpaid for a guy who really should be on a minor-league contract at this point. Also, I don't want Jose Tabata to get hurt and have the Pirates be forced to start McLouth, and neither do I want the Pirates to non-tender someone who might contribute, like Garrett Jones. They easily could have saved this money. Still, it's only $1.75 million. Impact: 3.
-P- Signed catcher Jose Morales to a minor-league deal. Not much to see here; it will take an injury or two to get Morales to the big leagues. Impact: 1.
-P- Signed pitcher Erik Bedard to a one-year deal for $4.5 million plus incentives. The incentives are only worth $500,000. This was a great move, as Bedard will be the Pirates' top starter, at least until he bumps his shoulder on the overhead compartment on the flight to Spring Training and needs 82 surgeries. There's a good chance the Pirates will get nothing out of this deal, and for example, Matt Bandi projects Bedard will only have 78 innings next year. Still, it's worth pointing out that Bedard is good enough that he could pitch only 78 innings, and still more than earn his $4.5 million. If he somehow pitches 200 innings, the Pirates could be downright decent. And if he stays healthy until the trade deadline, the Pirates could get something quite nice if they trade him. This isn't a franchise-changing move, obviously, but it has the potential to be very helpful. Impact: 10.
-P- Traded pitcher Brooks Pounders and infielder Diego Goris to the Royals for infielder Yamaico Navarro. This was another nice move. Both the players the Bucs traded are young enough that it would be silly to rule them out completely, but it's hard to see Pounders (a strike-thrower who currently looks like a back-of-the-rotation starter at best) or Goris (who played in the DSL for four years) really biting them too badly. Meanwhile, in Navarro, the Pirates get a super-utility player who has the potential to help immediately, and who might have enough offensive ability to help for several years, if all goes well. Of course, the more likely scenario is that Navarro doesn't hit much and ends up driving Clint Hurdle up a wall by botching routine defensive plays. But I like the upside here, especially compared to what the Pirates gave up. Impact: 4.
-P- Lost pitcher Brett Lorin in the Rule 5 Draft, while acquiring infielder Gustavo Nunez, pitcher Aaron Poreda and catchers Francisco Diaz and Charles Cutler. As with most Rule 5 moves, my guess is that the Pirates lost little and received little. There's no real indication that Lorin is ready to pitch against major-leaguers for a year, and no indication that Nunez ever will be able to hit major-league pitching. The odds of Poreda, Diaz or Cutler ever doing anything are remote, but Poreda and Cutler do bear watching. I didn't understand the Nunez selection, but the Rule 5 Draft is one place where I have to just accept that teams are going to do things that bloggers don't necessarily understand. Impact: 1.
-P- Lost Albert Pujols as an opponent. Neal Huntington didn't have anything to do with this one, but the Pirates and other teams in the N.L. Central got a nice little boost here. The Pirates play the Cardinals 15 times a season, and the Cardinals just lost a player who has hit .365/.451/.681 against the Pirates in his career. Or, to put it another way, Pujols has averaged about eight wins above replacement in his 11 seasons for the Pirates. In a typical season, he plays about one-tenth of his games against the Bucs, during which he plays even better than he does against everyone else. I assume the Cards won't start a replacement-level player at first now, but even so, it's not much of an exaggeration to say the Pirates should get an extra win a year now that he's gone. The enormity of the contract Pujols eventually got makes it a shame, in a way, that he didn't re-sign with the Cardinals, in that I doubt he's going to be very good at the end of it. But for right now, this is a weight off the Bucs' shoulders. Impact: 6.