Oh, wait. The bullpen.
There are closer Matt Capps, left-handers John Grabow and Damaso Marte and, as the roster currently stands, a mind-bending four vacancies. There are few experienced pitchers competing for those vacancies, and no clear choice to fill the critical late-inning roles performed by departed Salomon Torres and Shawn Chacon.
Kovacevic has mentioned this a number of times and obviously thinks it's a big problem, but it just isn't, in my opinion. Unless Ian Snell snaps his arm in half or something, nothing the Pirates do in 2008 will be "critical." And even if it were, the fact that the Pirates are only trying to replace Torres and Chacon really says a lot about the issue, I think. Torres was reliable until last year, when his ERA nearly doubled and he threw barely half the innings he threw each year from 2004 to 2006. And Chacon, who was merely decent in 2007, was coming off a 2006 campaign in which he posted a 6.36 ERA.
The point, yet again, is that relievers are notoriously unreliable; what you get from a guy one year isn't all that likely to be similar to what you get from him the next year. You can pay $8 million to Luis Vizcaino if you want, but you don't really know what you're going to get. And paying more than a few million bucks for a reliever would be a bad move for the Bucs right now, which rules out free agent relievers who might be a little more reliable than the Vizcainos and Torreses and Chacons of the world.
I certainly wouldn't mind if the Bucs had acquired Vizcaino, but I can't fault them for not doing so, and their first priority right now has to be developing cheap relievers of their own, particularly players who might become more reliable, Matt Capps types. That's exactly what they've done this offseason, and now they've got a huge collection of marginal but interesting young relief options - Kevin Roberts, Jesse Chavez, Evan Meek, Dave Davidson, Jimmy Barthmeier, Romulo Sanchez, T.J. Beam, and many others. When the Reliever Train whistles in 2008 - and it surely will, often and loudly - the Bucs will at least have interesting options. I think I probably said something like that last year about Jonah Bayliss, Josh Sharpless and Brian Rogers, but this year's bunch of marginal relievers is a whole lot better.
-P- The Cards and set to trade Scott Rolen to the Jays for Troy Glaus. We'll see about the form this deal eventually takes. The Jays do have a bunch of groundball pitchers in their rotation, so you'd think Rolen would help with that, but they're all right-handed, so they'd get the best results with a good first baseman. But if Rolen's shoulder is back to normal, this could still potentially be a great trade for the Jays, even though Rolen has one more year on his contract than Glaus. The Jays will presumably try to assess the condition of of Rolen's shoulder in the physical that precedes the trade. If his hitting bounces back a little, he's a much more valuable player than Glaus, because his defense is that much better.