Is there any truth to the rumor about the Bucs getting Mark Teixeira in a trade for Paul Maholm and Mike Gonzalez? This would add a lot of offense to the team, and we'd have a good fielding first baseman as well. -- Matt K., McKeesport, Pa.
I'm usually reluctant to use this space to discuss trade rumors, Matt, but I'll make an exception in this case because Teixeira is believed to be on the trading block and I expect that the Pirates will at least explore the possibility of acquiring him, if they haven't already.
Teixeira would obviously fill the team's need for a left-handed power bat at first base. The switch-hitting slugger has hit .282 with 140 home runs and 450 RBIs in four big-league seasons, including a monster 43-home run, 144-RBI 2005 season in which he also won the Gold Glove. As first basemen go, Teixeira has few peers.
Teixeira could also fit into the Pirates' budget, at least for the short term. He signed a two-year, $15.4-million deal with the Rangers prior to last season, and he's owed $9.4 million for 2007. He won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2008 season.
What would it take to get Teixeira? The Rangers are always looking for pitching, and they'd probably want a king's ransom of young arms in return for him.
Gonzalez would seem to be a given in any deal for Teixeira, and my best guess is that the Rangers would probably be more interested in Zach Duke or Tom Gorzelanny than Paul Maholm. Would Gonzalez and Duke/Gorzelanny be enough or would the Pirates have to throw in a prospect, too?
Even if the Rangers agreed to deal Teixeira for three young arms, the Pirates might decide that this would be too much for them to give up. While Salomon Torres has shown that he can step in for Gonzalez as the closer, there isn't much depth in the starting rotation after the "big four" of Duke, Maholm, Gorzelanny and Ian Snell.
Pirates GM Dave Littlefield would have to decide if acquiring Teixeira is worth further depleting a position that was often cited as a team strength. Remember, starters Oliver Perez, Kip Wells, Dave Williams and Mark Redman have all been traded in the past 12 months.
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What do you think of getting a power-hitting lefty first baseman from Japan? I heard Seung-Yeop Lee, the best slugger in the World Baseball Classic, hit 41 home runs this season in Japan.
-- Caleb P., Pittsburgh
The Korean native Lee, 30, played for the Yomiuri Giants in the Japanese Baseball League this past season and joined Sadaharu Oh and Alex Rodriguez as just the third professional player to hit 400 career home runs before his 30th birthday. As you mentioned, Lee also starred for Korea in the World Baseball Classic.
Lee's contract with the Yomiuri Giants expired after the 2006 season, and there has been widespread speculation that Lee would like to sign with a Major League team. The Yankees reportedly have agreed to begin negotiations with Lee this offseason.
When asked about the Pirates' interest in Lee, Littlefield said, "We are interested in any players that may be available through free agency or trade that we think can help fill our needs. Foreign players are certainly in that category."
However, past history indicates that the Pirates simply do not participate in bidding wars for Asian stars. So, I wouldn't recommend that anyone invest in any Seung-Yeop Lee replica Pirates jerseys any time soon.
Now that Ken Macha has been dismissed, is there any chance of him coming to Pittsburgh as a coach or future manager?
-- Robert B., Patton, Pa.
Macha, a Pittsburgh-area native and former Pirates player, was in consideration for the Pirates' managerial opening last fall before the Pirates hired Jim Tracy. But Tracy is under contract for two more years, and I can't imagine that the Pirates would give any consideration to adding Macha to their coaching staff.
Do you think that the Pirates gave up too soon on Oliver Perez? He must be having the last laugh now that he pitched for the Mets in the playoffs!
-- Bernard F. Columbia, Md.
It would be premature to say that the Pirates gave up on Perez too soon.
Perez was given plenty of opportunities to get back on track the past two years. For whatever reason, he wasn't able to do it with the Pirates. Let's not forget, too, that if Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez had been healthy, Perez probably wouldn't have pitched at all in the postseason.
Could Perez someday make the Pirates regret trading him? Absolutely. He is still young (25), he has a world of potential, and he showed a lot of poise last Thursday night at Shea Stadium. But Perez still must find a way to become a consistent big-league pitcher before I am ready to say that the Pirates made the wrong choice in sending him to the Mets as part of the Xavier Nady deal.
What is Jason Bay's current contract status?
-- James R., Mesa, Ariz.
Bay signed a four-year, $18.25 million contract extension last fall. Bay's deal called for a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $750,000 in 2006, $3.25 million in 2007, $5.75 million in 2008 and $7.5 million in 2009.
Bay will be eligible for free agency following the 2009 season.
In a past mailbag, a man said that he should be hired as a good luck charm by the Pirates because they won three of the four games he attended. That's nothing! This season, I attended eight games, and the Pirates won all eight. Maybe they should hire us both, and he can be my assistant.
-- Jonathan H., Morgantown, W.Va.
I think we could be on to something, here, Jonathan. Maybe the Bucs could create a new "Karma Department." You guys could fight it out for the VP job.
And people thought Billy Beane was thinking outside the box with his "Moneyball" approach in Oakland.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.