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Link Roundup, Fifth Starter Edition

-P- Via Bucs Trade Winds, New York Newsday reports that Tony Armas Jr. is close to signing and that he won't be signing with the Mets. Newsday thinks the team Armas is signing with might be the Pirates.

-P- Cory explains why it's important to have lots of shortstop prospects in the minors.

-P- Viva El Birdos is perplexed by the idea that Jeff Weaver might sign with the Pirates, and trying to figure out what Dave Littlefield might be thinking.

-P- Dejan Kovacevic defends B.P. Chacon. With all due respect, I'd like some of whatever it is Mr. Kovacevic is smoking.

...[T]he fifth guy, whoever it is, essentially will be a complementary piece, the one whose turn gets skipped on occasion, the one who will get less of the benefit of the doubt if things go badly.

This doesn't seem relevant to me, since it's extremely likely that at least one of our young pitchers will get hurt. Whoever the fifth starter is, he's pretty likely to get plenty of work.

But I did notice that Chacon's general assessment of his knee shortly before he pitched, good or bad, did actually portend how he fared. How will that knee hold up? Hard to say. Chacon had said near season's end he was going to have surgery on it, then changed his mind. Could it have healed on its own? We will see.

I can't disprove the first claim, of course, but it seems to me to be dubious - like thinking your buddy is a genius if he correctly predicts what's going to happen a couple of times in the same game. You can understand why someone might think that, but that doesn't mean it's true. Second, Chacon's knee problem has been lingering for years. Since he didn't have the surgery, why would we assume it'd be any different now?

When Chacon is good, he is very good. That cannot be said of many of the mediocrities who have signed megamillion contracts this offseason.

Well, it is true that Gil Meche didn't have a single great start all last year. But let's compare Chacon's three best starts last year to Armas'.


April 23 vs. Atlanta 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 K, 2 BB
May 14 at Atlanta 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 6 K, 2 BB
August 13 vs. NY Mets 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 K, 1 BB


Sept. 2 at St. Louis 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 K, 4 BB
May 6 at Texas 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 6 K, 4 BB
April 22 vs. Baltimore 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 K, 3 BB

Armas was markedly better in his good starts than Chacon was in his.

But a specific comparison of Armas to Chacon is not relevant to the overall point here, which is that even bad pitchers have "good" starts. Ryan Vogelsong did. Jimmy Anderson did. Even a pitcher who can't get the ball in the zone or keep the ball down to save his life can have a good start every so often, thanks to the fact that statistics like hits and runs are heavily influenced by luck and defense.

If the issue is that Chacon simply looked good in some starts and not in others, I'd wonder why he still walked batters like crazy even in his "good" starts. I had the displeasure of watching most of Chacon's starts for the Pirates last year and I don't recall ever seeing him throw 96 MPH the way Kovacevic says he did, but I'm sure Kovacevic is right. The point is, it doesn't matter. Vogelsong threw hard, too. Anderson... wait, why in the world did the Pirates keep messing around with Anderson?!

Weird stat: Seventeen of the 32 runs Chacon gave up with the Pirates came by way of home run. Not sure why I am even mentioning this, but it just seems so odd that one might wonder if the all-or-nothing factor might help him quite a bit if he addresses the cause of the 12 home runs allowed in just 46 innings.

I'm more sympathetic to arguments like this when they're applied to someone like Ian Snell, who's still pretty young and who has some idea of how to throw the ball in the strike zone. But Chacon? To cherry-pick some numbers:

2006 with the Yankees: 63 IP, 11 HR
2004 in Colorado: 63.1 IP, 12 HR
2002 in Colorado: 119.1 IP, 25 HR

The guy just gives up lots of home runs. It's easy to see why - he keeps the ball up too high.

I agree with Kovacevic that many of the remaining options for starters are less than ideal, but I'd still hate to go into camp with Chacon as the fifth starter. He's just that bad. I wouldn't want to break the bank to get any of the remaining starters, but Chacon should be injury insurance and nothing more.