NEW YORK - APRIL 05: Tim Wood #65 of the Florida Marlins pitches against the New York Mets during their Opening Day Game at Citi Field on April 5, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
This report originates with the not-always-reliable MLBTR , so take it with a grain of salt, but it appears that the Pirates have signed right-handed reliever Tim Wood . The report doesn't specify whether it's a major league deal or a minor league one, but the latter would seem much more likely. Wood had been in camp with the Nats this spring, putting up a 2/2 K/BB and 6.23 ERA in 4 1/3 spring innings with them before being released earlier today . He's 28 years old, listed at six feet tall and 180 pounds. Wood was drafted in the 44th round out of Pima CC in Arizona by the Marlins in 2002 and then signed as a draft-and-follow, mostly due to his arm strength. He had Tommy John surgery in late 2004 and a torn labrum in 2007 (the latter prompting a temporary retirement from baseball), which slowed his advanced through the Marlins' system. In spite of the injuries, he reached the majors with Florida in 2009, posting a 4.32 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, and 26/25 K/BB in 50 MLB innings over the last two seasons.
Those aren't great numbers, but Wood's stuff makes him a moderately interesting developmental arm anyway. Fangraphs lists his average fastball at 93 (with individual pitches reaching 95) and his average slider at 86. Both pitches reportedly also have good movement. With that kind of pure stuff, it's puzzling that he hasn't experienced better results. It'll be interesting to see whether our coaching staff is able to make some kind of adjustment that flips the switch for him.
Dejan had indicated earlier this morning that the Pirates could have some moves in store today. This may or may not be the move to which he was referring.
Update 1 : Colin Dunlap at the P-G confirms the Pirates' interest in Wood, and says that they are "in the process of finalizing a deal." He also speculates that it might be a major league deal, with recent waiver claim (and sole bullpen lefty) Garrett Olson being released in order to make room on the roster, which would certainly be a surprise.
I know I shouldn't pay attention to anything that Bob Smizik writes, but I couldn't help it today, as he really outdid himself. Earlier this afternoon, he posted an entry entitled "Pirates reach into MLB scrap heap" (as seen in the cached screenshot below), jumping to the conclusion that Wood's deal would be a major league contract at a time when no other sources were reporting this (with a link to Dunlap's speculation linked in Update 1, which said no such thing, as his only evidence), and trashing the not-yet-completed move with his typical brand of spiteful, reactionary zest.
Now that all the facts are in, the piece has been given a new and inoffensive title, "Pirates sign minor-league pitcher ," and Smizik's premature criticism has vanished, replaced by a bland factual piece and a note that the current text is meant "to amend an earlier report". Better luck next time, Bob.
Update 3 : Smizik has now pulled the post entirely, leaving no indication that it was ever there. Down the memory hole we go!