I didn’t really realize why they were keeping the young guys down until I started thinking about Saunders.
Then it dawned on me.
The Pirates are probably keeping the Altoona (now Indianapolis) three down to protect their value.
Being interested in Joe Saunders tells me that the Pirates do realize they have a problem in the rotation. That seems obvious. So if they knew they had a problem why not call one of the big three up?
To protect their value. There are reasons to be hesitant in each case.
Rudy Owens struggled mightily making the jump from AA to AAA. He also struggled between A and A+, but not nearly as bad. That shows at least a bit of a trend for Owens. Promoting him and having him struggle would decimate his trade value.
Jeff Locke has been pitching really well too, striking out a ton of guys, while not walking many, and he is not far off his career numbers in both categories so there is reason to be hopeful moving forward. That said he was terrible in his short time last year with the big club. A repeat of that would take away a ton of leverage from Neal Huntington.
Justin Wilson also has been striking out a solid number of guys, but his control hasn’t been as good as Locke’s. Still this is only his fourth season and he is age appropriate for the level, just like the other two.
The offense needs help. The way it will get help is more than likely going to be via trade. That’s where these three come in. They are more valuable as unknown commodities with potential, than guys who just got rocked in the bigs. There are no guarantees they even help the big club. The risk is greater than the reward seeing as they likely would only start a few games.
The Pirates need to trade arms for a bat, they are protecting their biggest trade chips to hopefully get a bat they control beyond one year.
So why Joe Saunders?
First off he is a rental. Which is what the Pirates need in the rotation. Not all three of those pitchers listed above will be traded. They won’t need Saunders next year, they need a quick fix this year. It would also give them another lefty in the rotation.
He would also be somewhat cheap as he is a rental, and isn’t on that top tier of pitchers that the big guys will definitely be going after.
So by starting Lincoln and Correia the Pirates could potentially get a bat and still upgrade the rotation.
That might be way off base, but I’d rather think they are doing this then just trying to push a square peg into a round hole.