Jonathan Sanchez? Chris Young? Pirates' rotation situation quickly becoming depressing

USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Karstens' new injury setback, coupled with Francisco Liriano's existing injury, has the Pirates' rotation in a depressing state.

It's now fairly likely that Jonathan Sanchez will make the Pirates' rotation, which is bad enough. One common theme at this point in spring training is the idea of "inventory." Since I started writing for MLBTR, I've seen a few examples of it in relation to different teams. (Here's one with regard to the Royals, for example.) This is the idea that, since you need many more than 25 players to get through a season, one priority when setting your roster is to keep as many players in the organization as possible. This means that players who are out of options, for example, are generally assumed to get roster spots unless they manifestly don't deserve them or can be sneaked through waivers.

Sanchez is an Article XX(B) free agent, which means that if the Pirates don't let him know soon (Tuesday, unless Sanchez's contract has special language in it) that he's made the team, he can request his release (or accept a minor-league assignment with a $100,000 retention bonus and a new out date of June 1). Given the Pirates' problems keeping their starting pitchers healthy, they might well figure that it's better to just keep Sanchez in their inventory, and the only sure way to do that is to give him a spot on their active roster.

I hate that Sanchez might make the team, but it's not totally senseless. Sanchez was horrible last year, and he's been a frustrating pitcher throughout most of the rest of his career, but he used to be a lefty with an outstanding strikeout rate, and he's only 30. By keeping him now, the Pirates don't risk a whole lot other than him bombing his first couple regular-season starts. There's an awfully good chance that he'll do exactly that, but I can understand the logic in keeping him around. It's just that I don't have to like it.

This, though ...

Pirates intrigued by guy like Chris Young, but could they assure him he'd be on roster whole year? If not, would he be interested?

The tweet is phrased in such a way that it's hard to tell whether this is reporting or just speculation. That happens with tweets sometimes. But either way, all I have to say is no. No no no no no. No. Having Young six or seven years ago would have been great. Now, no.

Let's answer Biertempfel's second question first. I obviously have no idea whether Young would be interested in coming to Pittsburgh, although I do know he'd prefer that to playing for the Syracuse Chiefs. But he's in no position whatsoever to demand that any major-league team assure him he'd be on the roster the whole year. So let's forget about that.

The word "intriguing" above is amusing to me. A tweet is 140 characters, and sometimes you don't get to pick the words you really want. But the idea of Dan Fox or someone sitting in Neal Huntington's office being "intrigued" by Chris Young is funny. It's like if you're driving through Wyoming at one in the morning and you're starving, and you happen across a rest stop that has a vending machine that only has one item left for sale. It's a bag of pork rinds, and you don't like pork rinds. Are you "intrigued" at the possibility of eating these pork rinds?

Young is bad. His fly ball rate is absurdly high and always has been, which means he'll allow tons of homers. PNC Park isn't the worst place in the world for a pitcher like that, but if he were starting for the Pirates, let's just say that the fans sitting above Clemente Wall would need to be on their toes. His strikeout rate is way down, from over eight per nine innings in his first few seasons with the Padres to 6.26 last year with the Mets. And the main reason for that is that he now throws about 83-86 MPH, rather than 87-91. 83-86, people. Chris Young makes Jeff Karstens look like Stephen Strasburg. Young is 34 years old. He has no upside whatsoever. No.

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