General manager Neal Huntington, on his weekly radio show yesterday, said the Pirates would consider sending pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to Class AAA Indianapolis if he continues to falter.
"As hesitant as we would be to do something like that, yes, we would," Huntington said. "We have to figure out the best course of action to get him back to his potential ... Whether we can do that at the major league level -- we've got an enhanced program that we've already begun -- or that does take going to Indianapolis ... I'd say we're still a ways away from that, but the reality is that we have to help Tom Gorzelanny."
I'm hardly the first to say this, but it seems very likely that, when you combine Gorzelanny's abuse at the hands of Jim Tracy late last year, Gorzelanny's drop in velocity and his hideous performance so far this year (26 strikeouts and 37 walks? Yikes), something pretty serious is going on here. Rather than sending him down, I might just shut him down for a month even if the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him. I'm not a doctor or a pitching coach, but usually, when a pitcher falls off a cliff like this, he's hurt.
-P- Also in the Post-Gazette today is a profile of high school shortstop Tim Beckham, who may be selected by the Pirates with the second pick of the draft, if the Rays don't take him first.
You know, it's funny to me that most reports now suggest that the Rays are most interested in Beckham and Florida State catcher Buster Posey, because if I were them, Pedro Alvarez is the player I'd want. He's widely regarded as the best hitter in the draft, and he can reach the majors quickly. I don't think a team like the Pirates should draft a player based on how fast he can reach the majors (as the Post-Gazette notes, that's how you get debacles like the Daniel Moskos selection); if they weigh these sorts of considerations at all, I think a team in the Pirates' position should actually favor players with lots of upside who are further from the majors. And I don't think the Rays should worry much about that stuff either.
But I do think that positional scarcity is an even less important consideration in the draft than closeness to the majors, and yet positional scarcity seems to be a major reason why the Rays are thought to have Beckham and Posey at the top of their board. Yes, Alvarez plays third base, and the Rays are set there with Evan Longoria and at first with Carlos Pena. But their current DH is Cliff Floyd, who's off to a decent start but has no future with the team. If Alvarez is the best hitter in the draft, why not grab him and let him split first base and DH duties with Pena when he's ready? I've never seen a real argument that Posey is a better hitter than Alvarez, and Beckham is a lot younger than most of the Rays' core of talent. Alvarez is exactly the right age to fit in with Longoria and B.J. Upton and Scott Kazmir and David Price. The Pirates, in my opinion, should be trying to stockpile very young talent in order to try to build a core; the Rays should be trying to get players to fit in with the core they already have.
Of course, maybe the Rays just don't like Alvarez that much. I don't know. But if I were them, I wouldn't let the fact that he plays third base stop me.