Pirates' offseason looks spectacular so far

Joe Sargent

Is there anyone -- anyone anywhere, including employees of the Pirates -- who predicted the Pirates' offseason would work out as well as it has so far? Let's roll the tape:

November 28: Pirates trade Luis Rico and Luis Santos to Royals for Vin Mazzaro and Clint Robinson. The Pirates later lost Robinson to the Blue Jays on a waiver claim, but Mazzaro has been helpful in the 14.1 innings he's pitched so far.

November 30: Pirates trade Chris Resop to Athletics for Zach Thornton. Thornton isn't significant -- the Pirates were just dumping salary. Resop has struggled so far with the A's, striking out 13 batters and walking 10 in his first 18 innings.

November 30: Pirates sign Russell Martin. Martin's currently hitting .274/.369/.538, and he's 1.8 wins above replacement so far. Also, Martin is supposed to be extremely good at pitch-framing, and tons of Pirates pitchers have suspiciously low ERAs. Hmmm. Finally, the differences between Martin and backup catcher Michael McKenry have been stark, demonstrating Martin's importance in controlling the running game.

December 12: Pirates re-sign Jason Grilli. Grilli is currently striking out a ridiculous 14.77 batters per nine innings, and is excelling as the Pirates' new closer.

December 26: Pirates trade Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt to Red Sox for Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, Stolmy Pimentel and Ivan De Jesus Jr. Hanrahan, of course, is already out for the season. No one should be happy about that, obviously, and it might have turned out differently. But earlier this week, Buster Olney said that the Red Sox and other teams already considered Hanrahan a health risk at the time of the trade. And Brock Holt has been terrible at Pawtucket. Meanwhile, Melancon has been ... I'm not sure if the word "spectacular" even really does him justice. He's striking out a batter an inning and getting grounders on a full two-thirds of his balls in play. Pimentel is re-emerging as a prospect with a strong early-season performance at Altoona. And De Jesus has quietly had a very strong season at Indianapolis. On the Pirates' side, only Sands has been a disappointment.

January 9: Pirates trade Quincy Latimore to Indians for Jeanmar Gomez. Gomez currently has a 2.28 ERA. There's pixie dust sprinkled all over it, and I'd probably bet against Gomez even being with the team at the end of the season, since he's essentially just a replacement-level guy. But the results so far have been tremendous.

January 17: Pirates sign Jeff Karstens, who hasn't pitched yet.

February 6: Pirates sign Jonathan Sanchez. Well, they can't all be winners.

February 8: Pirates officially sign Francisco Liriano. The Bucs had to restructure Liriano's contract after he broke his arm at home, and he hasn't pitched much yet, but he's been terrific in the two starts he's made so far.

February 13: Pirates sign Brandon Inge.

February 23: Pirates sign Jose Contreras. Contreras and Inge have neither helped nor hurt the team so far.

March 20: Pirates acquire John McDonald from Diamondbacks. Mostly pointless, but not particularly harmful.

We don't want to be too results-oriented about this, of course -- things might have turned out differently. The Pirates' new acquisitions likely won't be able to keep this up, and we've only played six weeks so far. But wow, does this look like a tremendous offseason for Neal Huntington so far. All the Pirates' major acquisitions have played well or downright amazingly. And unless I'm missing someone, their only significant free-agent loss so far has been Kevin Correia, who has pitched well for the Twins.

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