Since Tom Gorzelanny has looked so good in relief since being called up, is there any chance he snags a permanent spot in the bullpen?
-- Jeff G., Mission Viejo, Calif.
The Pirates are insistent that they want Gorzelanny to continue working in a starting role so he can get back to the Majors as a starter. His recent bullpen stint was the result of the Pirates initially needing someone who could give them multiple innings. It wasn't because they wanted Gorzelanny to try out as a reliever.
If Tyler Yates is able to come off the disabled list this weekend, expect Gorzelanny to return to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he will rejoin the rotation. Farm director Kyle Stark said on Sunday that Gorzelanny has made strides forward as a starter this year, but, to use Stark's words, "There is still a way to go." Even with much still left to accomplish, it's way too early to give up on Gorzelanny's starting abilities.
Is there any shot to see a new closer for us this year if Matt Capps continues to struggle?
-- Jake F., Wheeling, W.Va.
Capps' performance on Sunday was certainly one of those breathe-a-sigh-of-relief outings. Boy, did that look like the old Capps again. Capps seems to be on track now. He has three saves in his past three opportunities and has allowed only one run on two hits in his past four innings. He's only issued one walk in that span, too, which is much more Capps-like than his early escalating walk total.
Even when Capps was struggling, there was no discussion about removing him from the closer's role. His velocity never wavered, which was always encouraging, and so there was the confidence that he'd be able to soon find his stuff again. And you don't just give up on a closer because of a bad two-week stretch. I'm sure no one in Philadelphia is calling for Brad Lidge to be removed from closing duties after his awful weekend.
I know you will get this question a lot over the next few months, so I just thought I'd get it out of the way now. What are the odds that we keep Jack Wilson for the rest of the season?
-- T.J. B., Huntington, W.Va.
Man, I figured I could at least be off the hook on the Wilson trade rumors until June. Not so lucky. I'm not much for projecting odds, but I can tell you that Wilson is not guaranteed to be here until the end of the season. Big shocker there, huh?
The Pirates will not pick up his $8.4 million option next year, essentially leaving them one of two options. They can try to re-sign Wilson at a lower salary, something that Wilson is open to but that the Pirates haven't jumped on doing thus far. Or, the Pirates can try to trade Wilson before the season ends to ensure that they get at least something in return. Worst-case scenario for the Bucs is that they lose Wilson in free agency and perhaps get compensatory Draft picks in return.
Offers for Wilson will continue to be heard, and if the Pirates find one that they feel will make them better in the long run, they won't hesitate to deal their shortstop. The right offer just hasn't come along as of yet.
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After early concerns about Andy LaRoche, both in the field and at the plate, he seems to have found his stride. On the other hand, Adam had a decent start to the year, which is what the Pirates have been looking for since he first came to town. Is it possible, that each has been a part of the success of the other this season? How long do the Pirates hold the rights to Andy, and if the two keep up the way they have been going, do you see the possibility of them both playing for the Pirates for a few years longer?
-- Steve D., Nashville, Tenn.
I actually asked Andy about this a while back, curious as to whether having his brother around has helped him settle in. He said that yes, he believes the presence of his older brother helped him come out of his early-season funk, though the degree to which the brothers have helped each other is hard to quantify.
The Pirates hold Andy's rights through 2013, so the Bucs can certainly make him a long-term piece here if they want. As for the elder LaRoche, it's no secret that he will become a free agent at the end of the season, and the Pirates will likely be outbid for his services if they can't lock him down before then. With his salary already at $7.05 million and his production for the club not overwhelming for the first base position, the Pirates may very well go another direction.
The fact that Andy LaRoche is in Pittsburgh will not sway the Pirates in any way in their assessment on whether to keep Adam.
With the emergence of Jason Jaramillo and Robinzon Diaz, will Ryan Doumit be the next to bring back prospects for the Bucs?
-- Rick, Peoria, Ariz.
There is absolutely no desire to deal Doumit, nor is there any belief that Jaramillo and Diaz have established themselves as starting Major League backstops. Their resumes are limited to only about five weeks at this point, so keep that in mind.
Certainly, the Pirates have to be pleased with the production they've gotten from both backups, as well as how good a job they've done working with the pitching staff. That will be a benefit for them as backups once Doumit returns. But the Pirates intend for Doumit to be a cornerstone of this organization in the coming years, and nothing that happens on the field while he is out will change that.
The Bucs have made a few inexpensive improvements to their club lately. But to really put them in a position to contend, they seem to need one proven starter. If they are in it in July, who might be available for the Pirates to pick up?
-- Keith H., Eaton Rapids, Md.
I have to disagree with you. The starting pitching has not been the issue so far this season. With a Major League-leading 26 quality starts heading into Monday's game, the Pirates have been among the league's best staffs all year. The fact that the staff has maintained its strong early results this long also suggests that the starter's collective success is no fluke.
Going after a "proven starter" at the Trade Deadline would cost the Pirates more money than it would probably be worth. Not to mention, they'd have to give up a player(s) to acquire anyone, too. Yes, the results could be better at the No. 5 spot, but the Pirates continue to believe in Jeff Karstens and believe they have other potential options in Triple-A if he can't get the job done.
When Craig Hansen comes off the disabled list, what corresponding move do you think is most likely? Isn't Hansen out of options? I would hate to see him stay with the Pirates while the more deserving Evan Meek or Jesse Chavez gets sent down simply because they have options left.
-- Kate R., Pittsburgh
The Pirates are going to be in a bind when Hansen is finally healthy, though we still don't really know when that might be. Hansen is out of options, so the Pirates will be forced to put him back on the big league roster unless they want to risk losing him on waivers. I don't imagine they will take that risk just yet.
As a result, yes, it will likely be Meek or Chavez who becomes the odd one out -- probably Meek. Both have options left, so there is no issue in shuttling either to and from the Minors. That said, both have been tremendous assets to the 'pen and certainly deserve to stay if they continue pitching as they have. But sometimes baseball's ugly business side plays a bigger role than anyone would like.
How are the two pitchers from India doing that the Pirates recently signed?
-- Brent S., Northridge, Calif.
Both are still working out in Bradenton, Fla., where they will participate in the Gulf Coast League season once it starts.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.