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Pirates To Sign Kuwata; LaRoche Deal Not Dead

John Perrotto of the Beaver County Allegheny Times reports that the Pirates are close to signing Japanese pitcher Masumi Kuwata.  Kuwata could join the starting rotation.  It was previously thought that the Red Sox would snag him on a minor league deal.

He also reports that potential for a multi-player deal between the Bucs and Braves still exists, with Mike Gonzalez, Humberto Cota, Jose Castillo, Nate McLouth, Kyle Davies, and Adam LaRoche involved.

The Nats are getting demanding for Ryan Church, causing the Pirates to back off.

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On a side comment, when GM's from really mediocre (underachieving) teams make such high demands for players that won't have a serious impact, its unfortunate.

Just shows how they will not be going anywhere for years to come..

But it looks like the Braves are going to be getting some serious bounty for LaRoche. I wish my team would jump in on Gonzalez and/or Laroche.

They are the kind of young guys that would make an immediate difference.

Who cares about this signing, really? This won't help the Pirates do anything.

Oh what's the rule on stupid comments? We banning those, too? Okay I'm done. But..

It's a signing so he's reporting it. And with how mediocre that division is who knows, we could see it being extremely competetive in the next couple of years. I don't really see any team dominating it, although the Cubs should be the favorites.

I agree that the NL central is wide open to any team there that makes even marginal improvement including the Pirates. I'm not sure, however, that there are enough Sorianos in all of baseball to make up for that Cub starting rotation. I wouldn't count out the Brewers at this point.

Who has a better starting rotation right now than the Cubs in the division? The Cardinals? I hope thats not your answer because Zambrano and Carptenter cancel each other out, and then look at the rest. Hill and Wainwright\Reyes cancel eachother out (at best for the Cardinals) and at least the Cubs have Lilly and yes, Marquis after that. The Cardinals have Wells, so will probably cancel out Marquis because I think thier numbers will be similar. No one else in the division has a Carptenter or Zambrano, which the exception of Maybe Sheets, but thats a stretch. So, can you honestly tell me that the Cubs staff is not at least right there with anyone else's in the division?

I will say Houston has Oswalt, so that probably will cancel out Zambrano\Carpenter. But, unless they get Clemens, I dont see thier rotation as being very good and certainly don't see thier offense stacking up with the Cubs, or the Cards for that matter.

The Brewers have the best rotation in the central.

I'd have to say I'd take the Reds one-two punch of Harang and Arroyo at this point. If Bailey is ready and they could add one more guy through trade or free agency (Suppan, maybe) I think they'd trump the single dimension rotations of the Cubs and Cardinals. The NL central is setting a pretty low bar for the club that gets aggressive, smartly. I still like the overall talent base of the Brewers most but they don't sem to be willing to take the next step.

"Hill and Wainwright\Reyes cancel eachother out"

How? That's one pitcher against two. Unless Hill is pitching twice every 5 days.

I would probably concur with that. Although I can't say I like the Harang Arroyo combination that much at all. I am basing this on what it seems like to me, and I dont have facts on him, but I will just say it. It really seems to me that Harang had a fluke year last year and he is really not that good. It also seemed to me that once the NL hitters learned Arroyo they hit him all over the place. Anyone know his 2nd half numbers?

I think the Brewers rotation is alright, but not anything special. I guess it all depends on Sheets. If he can put up Zambrano\Carpenter numbers, I guess I would probably have to give them a slight edge. Dont underestimate Rich Hill or Wainright for the Cards though. They both have SICK curveballs and some serious potential.

Because Wainwright might not even start. And you just dont know what Reyes will do, considering he was sent back down last year and could do the same this year. I just think that all three are completely unpredictable and thats why. I guess you could put Prior\Miller in there with Hill and have 5 players that no one can have any clue about next year.

Here are the tiers of pitchers in the NL central:
1.Zambrano/Carpenter/Oswalt
2.Sheets/Arroyo/Prior (if healthy)
3.Hill/Duke/Harang/Capuano
4.Bush/Lilly/Reyes/W. Williams/Miller (if healthy)
5.K. Wells/Snell/Marquis

I think that if you are going to put Hill in, you have to throw Wainwright and Reyes in. We know Reyes will be starting, and he would probably be in the 4 tier. Wainright would be in 3 if he starts...not in at all if he doesnt.

I see no reason why Sheets won't put up Carpenter/ Zambrano numbers. He came back strong last season. All indicators are off the charts. He's even been unlucky (high BABIP and low strand rate). I think it's clear that he's a notch above Zambrano, and no, I won't get into the argument again. I know half teh people posting here have massive man-crushes on Carlos. I'd even say that if healthy, I'd prefer Sheets to Carpenter. That K/BB ratio is just scary.

Rankings for spot #1:
- Brewers
- Cardinals
- Cubs/Astros (I'd prefer Oswalt, but they are close)
- Reds
- Pirates

Capuano is the 2nd best #2 in the division after Arroyo (I consider Harang the #1 there). But I think the difference between Sheets and Harang is bit larger than the difference between Capuano and Arroyo, so for the first 2 spots I'd still take Milwaukee. Rankings:

1) Brewers
2) Reds
3) Cubs/Cardinals (I think a slight edge to the Cubs. I'm expecting Hill to be better than Lilly, and enough of an improvement over Reyes to offset the advantage Carpenter has)
5) Astros
6) Pirates


Ack, this is too long. Perhaps I'll finish later. I think the Cubs _could_ have the best rotation, but that would mean that Hill does great, Prior is healthy, and Lilly really takes to the NL. All things equal right now, I take the Brewers.

Agree with 1. I would flip-flop Harang and Arroyo. And I'm sick of hearing about Prior from Cubs fans. Until he re-establishes his value I'd put his sorry ass down with Wells and Snell.

While we're ranking the NL central, let's do hitters. Here are the tiers of hitters in the NL central:
1.Pujols/C. Lee/Berkman/J. Bay/D. Lee/Soriano/Ramirez
2.Rolen/F. Sanchez/Griffey/Dunn
3.Ensberg/Edmonds/B. Hall/P. Fielder
4.J. Jones/Eckstein/Barrett/Biggio/Jenkins/E. Encarnacion
5.Murton/J. Encarnacion/R. Weeks/L. Scott(projected stats)
Think you can do better, try.

Can someone do me a favor and post the email address of the person who runs the site? When I click on the link under the GOT A RUMOR section a pop up box comes up that says something isn't installed properly...I guess my school doesn't know how to do that and I don't have a computer in my room. If someone could do that thanks!

I love that Miller and Prior get (if healthy) next to their name. What is it five outta the last six years for the cards? Walt is still going to add one more pitcher, and the Astros still have many options available (probably because they have like two returning starting pitchers). As Cards fan, I feel that once again the 'stros are our best competition. Cubs fans forget how miserable they were last year and so do I. 6th (aka last) place?

I'm not even going to try the hitters...but I just can't get past him saying Sheets is better than Zambrano. Zambrano has virtually no injury history and has done it basically every year. Sheets is in and out, injuries have been a problem, and he is going to have much less run support than Carpenter and Z. Sorry, don't want to bring you back into the "who's the best pitcher" argument, but I just can't believe that Sheets could be considered better.

I agree zambrano and carp and i guess oswalt go in the same group. but when you're going number one hitters please refrain from putting anyone in with Pujols. He almost finished with more HRs than Ks!!

Not sure I agree with those hitter rankings, but I don't know where I would start my own. I definitely think I'd move Carlos Lee down to 2nd tier. And I can't see Eckstein being a better hitter than Rickie Weeks. And if Scott is on there only projected, then where's Duncan? He's at least got the same promise that Murton does.

2 through 5, the NL has some awful pitching, if we can only count results and not promise.

Astros have (as of today)
1. Roy Oswalt
2. Woody Williams
3. Jason Hirsh
(the rest is speculation)
4. Taylor Buccholz
5. Matt Albers/Chris Sampson/Wandy Rodriguez

A little underwelming, but not far off of what they started off with last year....and for the record Andy Pettitte's way over-rated.

yea, just checked. Pujols 49 HR; 50 K vs Soriano 46 HR; 160 K. I shouldn't have to be convincing you that Soriano is not even in the same league as Pujols! sans the obvious one.

As long as we're gonna make this about lists, what division has the best pitching? Is it between the AL East and the AL Central?

bobo, I agree with your assessment. If Sheets is healthy he is in the same class as Z/Oswalt/Carp. No question about it.

I give the nod to the AL Central. Johnson, Pettitte, Shilling, Wakefield, Pavano...man those guys are old.

"As long as we're gonna make this about lists, what division has the best pitching? Is it between the AL East and the AL Central?"

The NL West and either AL Central or West.

I agree, Pujols should be in a Tier all by himself. And thats painful, because I am a cub fan. I could attempt to put D-Lee in there because of his one AMAZING year, or Soriano because he is the only 40\40\40 player ever, but still, it would be kidding myself. Living in St. Louis and watching him, I have to be honest and say he is by himself.

But, as far as the Astros being the only competition next year for the Cards, there is no way. I dont see the Cardinals getting much better with the loss (potentially) of Weaver, Suppan, and with Edmonds and Rolen just getting older and older. Dont forget, 83 wins is all it took last year. With STL not getting much (if any) better and Houston losing the best part (except Oswalt) of thier rotation, its completely open.

I am a cubs fan, so I will admit that last place is hard to get out of. But, with what they have done, you cant tell me they dont have a chance to win 90. Lou over Dusty probably gets them 10 more wins last year alone. He will benefit them with his discipline more than most people think. I am not saying the Cubs are even the favorites, but you can't say that Houston is your only competition because there is a real possibility the Cards don't even make the playoffs.

I understand the injury risk concerns. But for me, the way he came back last season is good enough for me. Zambrano is certainly the less risky pick, but the upside on Sheets is higher. All things equal, I take Sheets.

I don't see how run support has anything to do with who's a better pitcher.

Again, this is just my opinion. Sheets' numbers just blow me away, to the extent that I take him over Zambrano, despite the injury risk. We can certainly debate how healthy we think Sheets will be (and none of us really know) but there should be no debate about who is a more talented pitcher.

Gammon reported on ESPN pages that the Marlins and Red Sox are working on a deal to send 2003 1st rounder David Murphy OF to the marlins for a minor league pitcher.

Not a huge story or rumor but worth note I think.

To answer Nickjs21 I believe the AL Central has the best pitching. You are always going to hear about the Yankees and the Red Sox and then Roy Halladay is very good. But look at the Central. Verlander, Zumaya, Liriano (if he comes back) Santana, Greinke is on the way back, CC, Buerhle has been good, Jenks, Nathan...You could probably go on forever, but anyways thats my two bits on your question.

Wouldn't Z be in the upper tier of hitters in the NL Central too?

Pujols is absolutely in a class by himself.

Berkman and D. Lee are significantly better than anyone else in the division.

After that I take, in order, Bay, Ramirez, Carlos Lee, Soriano.

This is all when position is not considered.

"but the upside on Sheets is higher"

I guess we will have to agree to disagree here. I don't know how you can have more upside than big Z. He is 26 or 27, throws like 4 nasty pitches for strikes, strikes a TON of people out, threatens a no hitter at least 2 or 3 times a year...and so on. I respect Sheets, and I wont bring in run support or health, but I just don't understand the upside thing. Right now Carp is better than both, but look at big Z's numbers on a horrible team last year. As he gets older, Zambrano will walk less hitters, which is the ONLY thing that he has left to improve on. He is also the best hitting pitcher, but I'll leave that alone.

I agree AL central for sure, tho I wouldn't use CC as proof of that. also point taken, Aduncaroo. It is still a wide open race, but the cubs have really only added Soriano and Lilly. There's just a lot of question marks on the cubs, and the possibility of them all coming through positive is minimal. On the other hand all the signings will erase the pain of last year and give them energy starting out the year. We'll just have to see if they have staying power

I just wanted to chime in on this Zambrano/Sheets debate.

I'd take Zambrano over Sheets, because he'll give you a sub 3.50 ERA and 200+innings. Sheets is the better pitcher of the two but he hasn't stayed healthy for 2 years...that begins to be a problem. And Zambrano walks way too many batters to be considered elite, he's still good, but not elite. Plus he actually increased his walks in '06 by a whopping 25% over '05. Ouch.

I hope the deal ain't dead. The Braves get that deal I can only assume that Pena goes back to AAA, McLouth goes to LF and leads off, Cota is the back up catcher, Thorman to 1st, Gonzalez to the bullpen to make perhaps the best bullpen in the NL. Castillo to 2nd, and Giles gets moved for a SP. Unless they think Cormier can be a number 5 or one can come from the minors.

Hey Stlknows, what's wrong with CC?

CC ERA 3.22 K's 172 BB 44
Carp 3.09 184 43

If you compare CC's stats you'll find him in the upper echelon of pitchers. Be careful of perception versus reality.

I have to agree what kind of shape is pitching in if Zambrano gets looked at as an elite pitcher. Thats a shame over3.50 era and a ton of walks.

Other than walks, can anyone tell me how Sheets is better than Zambrano?

Plus, if you are just going on upside and health is not a factor, you would have to say prior is on the same list. I dont think anyone (not even fellow Cubs fans) could say that should fly. But, if you look at career numbers, Prior is up there with the best of them when healthy. In 03' he went 18-6 with a very low era and a bunch of strikeouts with very little walks. Its just that he is NEVER healthy...and thats starting to be the case with Sheets.

Zambrano IS elite because if you look at the numbers last year, he is so good that the walks barely affect him. He just doesn't let the runs score. It does kill his pitch counts, and thats the main reason it hurts him.

All in all, if you factor age, health, consistency, and lifetime numbers, there are few pitchers I would take in front of Zambrano, in all of baseball. Santana being the obvious number one, I think its tough to beat a 200+ innings, 200+ k, sub 3.5 era every year and the guy is only 27 next year. Especially with someone that gets hurt all the time, and you have to factor health in, there is no way around it.

The Cubs OF defense will be horrible next year if they keep it the way it is now. Jones is OK but arm is weak. Soriano will be fun to watch play the winds of Wrigley in CF. He is a LF and should be kept there. And Murton is probably the best of the 3 but may platoon or sit if Floydd is signed. And Floydd can't move.

I agree if you are gonna throw the injury factor out the window for Sheets. Then you have to do it for Prior as well. Stuff wise he may have the best stuff of any NL Central pitcher there is.

Wait till Lily and Marquis start serving 'em up. Soriano will go on the DL with whiplash watching those balls fly out onto Waveland.

Yeah, I don't think we can just discount the injury thing with Sheets. I realize he is an immense talent, when he is healthy. I think, with another season of injury problems, he'll be entering prior territory.

Wow, this rumor went from Mike Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche, to yet another Cubs section.

Cubs fans are overly excited...its the first time in a while...its ok they will come down to Earth April 30th when they are already 10+ games back

To clarify:

When I said upside, I didn't mean upside as a pitcher, I just meant that if he's healthy, Sheets will be better. Upside was really the wrong term.

The walks ARE the difference (and the fact that Zambrano has been more lucky than Sheets). I'm not getting into it. Sheets is better. If Zambrano cuts his walk rate by 75%, he'll be better. If you don't see that with Zambrano's walk rate, he'll never be elite, then there's nothing I can say to help you.

I would put the chances of Sheets pitching 200 innings around 70-75% (feel free to differ, I don't have much to back that up), and Prior's chances about 5%. That's why Prior's not in my discussion.

Yes, in terms of pure pitching ability, Prior is right there.

Also, just because Zambrano has been extremely durable up to now, doesn't necessarily mean he's not a risk. In fact, Sheets from 01 to 04 looks pretty similar to Zambrano from 03 to 06.

Its not a cubs one, just a good discussion of pitching in the NL Central. This site has a lot of Cubs fans on it though, no doubt.

Still, its a way better than a pirates discussion. (No disrespect, I would just rather talk about Ace pitchers than Adam LaRoche.)

You are not lyin. Every forum in this turns into a Cub discussion . I'm only waiting for the Met fans to come in and ridicule all the Cub moves yet again. They must not be outta school yet. Lookin over the LaRoche deal I am starting not to like it all that much now. I would take Maholm, Gonzalez, & Castillo for LaRoche and Davies. If that won't get it done I'd tell Littlefield end of discussion.

Prior has less of a chance of returning to form that Kerry Wood in my mind. Prior has suffered substantial loss of velocity and while Kerry Wood didn't look good last year, he was throwing in the 90's at least.

Alright....we can stop the whole sheets/zambrano thing. I'll agree with you that walks are a problem for him, although besides pitch count they really didnt hurt him that much. We agree that if he cuts down on them than he will be great. Here's to hoping he can mature just a little bit more and cut down on those.
Sheets is good, could be great, and I mean no disrespect. I am just saying be careful because I put up those same arguments for two or three years about Prior, and I look like an idiot because the guy can't back me up because of his health.

Good posts though..its way better than talking with my friends about this because they are all idiots and can't give me a valid point. Thats why I apprecaite this forum

Yeah, agreed. And I can sympathize - every year I believed the hype (or was just too naive/optimistic) and thought Prior would be healthy too.

Waiting for Prior and Wood to be healthy is like waiting for mammatus clouds to form under nimbostratus clouds...It will never happen

Even if they are healthy, it won't matter much... How much can you possibly have left in either arm after the damage that has already been done...I would be truely suprised if either pitches at a high level for a full season ever again...

The funny thing about all this is that people continue to ask why boston won't put Papelbon back into the bullpen.... They say it because of his health... Being in the bullpen will hurt his arm in the long run because of the day in and day out pitching... But, the Cubs somehow think that this is different for Kerry Wood... all the sudden it's the answer to his health problems.... Being in the pen will relieve some of the stress he has endured... Good luck

I guess we can figure out who the smartest of the two organizations is...if you can't just look at the track records over the past few years

They said this because Wood's arm always held up until about 60 pitches. So, its either use him in a situation where he wont throw that many, or dont use him at all. What would you do?

He has the potential to dominate out of the pen, but he will probably never be able to throw that many pitches again.

At the beginning, they arent even going to use him on back to back days. So, say he throws 20 pitches every 3 days, or 90 every 5. Which do you think is better for his arm????

Neither...his arm is damaged goods...maybe he should learn how to throw with his legs

Cop out answer. Answer the question, what would you do? He is only getting paid 1.5 million in guarentees, so they are easily going to get that much out of him.

"Cubs fans are overly excited...its the first time in a while...its ok they will come down to Earth April 30th when they are already 10+ games back"

AMEN paul. I have to say, there isnt any pitcher in the NL i would take over zambrano. Not even Carp. I think I would also take Oswalt over Carpenter.

Why isn't Adam LaRoche getting more trade value? 30+ homers and gold glove caliber defense. You'd think they'd be asking for more than just Gonzalez.

Who is Nate McLouth?

This report is bogus because the Braves don't need another catching prospect. The Braves are not going to trade Davies without getting a starter as part of this deal.

LaRoche has more trade value that is why they are asking for more. And I seen alot of Thorman he is going to be a good ballplayer. I do a McLouth, Gonzalez, Castillo and Malholm for Davies and LaRoche. IF the Pirates refuse then let them walk.

Hood very good idea. i would love to get young Maholm to either trade so we can keep James or use as a #5 in the rotation. Both have very good potential and I would be excited to see either pitching in Atlanta.

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