Monday, April 28, 2008

The changes

In the wake of the Matt Morris release, the changes the Pirates made weren't exactly what everyone suspected. John Van Benschoten is being called up, but he's going to the pen and Phil Dumatrait is going into the rotation. There's some speculation that JVB is up to work out of the pen short term until Sean Burnett (who threw a lot over the weekend) is ready, but that's all speculation until then, so let's focus on what this move tells us.

It tells us that Neal Huntington does not think very highly of John Van Benschoten. Look at it this way: there was probably only three "viable" (I use that term loosely, none of these guys would be starting for other teams) replacements for Morris; Dumatrait, Van Benschoten, and Bullington. They're actually all pretty similar in that they're all former top prospects drafted around the same time (2000, 2001, and 2002, respectively) that had their careers derailed by injuries before making a semi-comeback last year. They've all had decent recent success in the minors that's clouded by some really shady peripherals, and they've all gotten pounded in the big leagues. Given his choice of the three of them to take Morris's spot in the rotation, Doogie's going with Dumatrait, who's been fairly bad out of the pen this year (ignore that 3.92 ERA and look at his 22 hits, 13 walks, and 13 strikeouts in 20 and 2/3 innings) and was awful in the Reds' rotation last year. He's making the conscious choice to add a Dumatrait to the rotation, even if it gives the Pirates three soft-tossing lefties (Dumatrait along with Maholm and Duke) and Gorzelanny, who can't muster a 90mph fastball right now, to compliment Ian Snell in the rotation. It's hard not to see this move and conclude that Huntington doesn't expect Van Benschoten to be a big league starter.