From the P-G's chat:
Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck. It should be clear that the Pirates' easiest path to improvement would be replacing Duffy with a league-average hitter. Even if that proved difficult, they could at least bring in someone else to share time. Duffy is well past the age where it'd be reasonable to think someone with his numbers would blossom into one.
Dejan Kovacevic: Yes. No question about it. His ceiling is high, and the Pirates have no wish to move him.
Gonzalez's ceiling is indeed high. However, he is probably currently standing on it. He has a 2.17 ERA and is striking out many more batters than innings pitched. It would be possible for him to improve his control somewhat, but regardless, a 2.17 ERA is extremely low, and the Pirates still need many things.
I'm far from sure that Sean Burnett should be in the rotation next year, but if indications are that he's ready, why in the world would the Pirates worry about this? The "comfort" reasoning doesn't make any sense. If the Pirates are concerned about Burnett, Zach Duke and Paul Maholm being too similar, they have two heat-throwing starters and several heat-throwing relievers to keep opponents off balance. Even if the Bucs' reasoning did make sense, it would strike me as nitpicking. They've got to play the hand they've dealt themselves. They have too many serious problems with the team to make decisions about the rotation based on silly stuff like this. Besides... don't the Pirates currently have Maholm, lefty junkballer Shane Youman, and Duke starting on consecutive days in the rotation?
Dejan Kovacevic: No. They do not want Freddy Sanchez at shortstop, so they feel they would need to get a shortstop in return. That will not get you a young, power-hitting, left-handed first baseman or right fielder.
The Pirates' problem with Sanchez at shortstop, I believe, has to do with his durability. But they had no problem playing him there regularly when Jack Wilson was out with an ear infection. If durability is the problem, let someone else play shortstop once a week. Again, it seems to me that the Pirates are sweating the small stuff and ignoring the big stuff here.
Dejan Kovacevic: Not a chance. Castillo's ceiling is considered high, especially from the power standpoint, and he is far, far cheaper for the next three years. That opens the field of potential suitors to a much larger group.
Got that? The Pirates won't trade a reliever who has already realized his potential, on the grounds that his ceiling is too high. But they will trade a starting second baseman who's several years younger and hasn't reached his potential... because his ceiling is high. I'm not saying the Bucs shouldn't trade Castillo, but their reasoning so far suggests that they aren't going to do it right.
If Kovacevic is right about this stuff, and he usually is, we're in for another frustrating offseason.