Pirates Pitching Rotation Update

Injuries dragged down the Pirates' rotation late in the season as LHP Sean Burnett and RHP Kip Wells went on the DL with sore elbows Aug. 23.

The Pirates went 20-35 and had a 4.76 ERA after Aug. 1. Burnett, a rookie, will miss most of next season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery in September, and the Pirates would like to add a veteran starter to stabilize the rotation.

RHP Brian Boehringer became a free agent when the Pirates bought out his $3 million club option for next season for $300,000. RHP Jose Mesa is eligible to file for free agency 15 days after the World Series, and the Pirates are trying to re-sign him.

RHP Josh Fogg (11-10, 4.64) had a strong second half after a miserable start to the season. Fogg doesn't have great stuff but competes well and finds ways to win.

LHP Oliver Perez (12-10, 2.98) was a revelation in his first full season as he had a string of dominant outings. Perez is already the Pirates' No. 1 starter at 23, and he has the talent to be one of the top starting pitchers in the game.

RHP Ryan Vogelsong (6-13, 6.50) struggled mightily after a great showing in spring training. Vogelsong has plenty of talent but needs to start showing consistency if he wants to have a long career.

RHP Kip Wells (5-7, 4.55) had a rough season after beating Philadelphia on Opening Day. Wells still has the potential to be a frontline starter but is at the point in his career where he needs to step up.

LHP Sean Burnett (5-5, 5.02) started strong after being recalled from Triple-A in May, then tailed off and eventually had reconstructive elbow surgery. Burnett will miss most of next season while rehabbing and can't be counted on until 2006.

Bull Pen: RHP Jose Mesa solidified what was a surprisingly good bullpen that had a fine 3.64 ERA despite losing its last seven decisions.

RHP Jose Mesa (5-2, 3.25, 43 saves) was run out of Philadelphia after compiling a 6.52 ERA in 2003 but resurrected his career with the Pirates after signing a minor league contract as a free agent. Mesa will be 38 when next season opens, but the Pirates are interested in retaining him as a free agent.

RHP Salomon Torres (7-7, 2.64) turned out to be a workhorse in his first full season as a relief pitcher. Torres emerged as one of the better setup relievers in the league and could get a shot at closing next season if Jose Mesa is not re-signed.

RHP Brian Meadows (2-4, 3.58, 1 save) had a solid year as a middle man after being converted from starter to reliever in 2003. Meadows is a valuable pitcher for his ability to throw strikes and pitch effectively in various roles.

LHP John Grabow (2-5, 5.11, 1 save) got off to a fine start in his rookie year but struggled as the season went on. Grabow has the stuff to be an effective major league pitcher but needs to work on his command.

LHP Mike Gonzalez (3-1, 1.25, 1 save) had a dominant rookie season after being recalled from Triple-A in May. Gonzalez is a rare hard-throwing lefty who seems to have the stuff and makeup to eventually become a closer.

LHP Frank Brooks (0-1, 4.67) did a credible job in the final six weeks of the season, primarily in long relief, in his first major league action after being called up from Triple-A in August. Brooks has a decent chance to make the club next spring because of his left-handedness and versatility.

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