By John Perrotto
The revolving door to the Pirates’ pitching staff spun at a furious pace Thursday.
Left-hander Dana Eveland was designated for assignment in the morning. In the afternoon, the contracts of lefty Justin Thomas and right-hander Steven Jackson were purchased from Class AAA Indianapolis to provide some fresh arms for an overtaxed bullpen that had been asked to work 10 1/3 innings in the first two games of a three-game series with the Texas Rangers that ended Thursday night in Arlington.
The Pirates will make another roster move by Saturday (Daniel McCutchen is expected to be recalled) as they will need a starter that night to pitch against the Athletics at Oakland after lefty Zach Duke was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday with a strained elbow.
However, it should not be lost in the flurry of transactions what a brutally awful move Pirates general manager Neal Huntington made on June 1 when he acquired Eveland from the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade for Class AA Altoona right-handed reliever Ronald Uviedo.
Eveland had been designated for assignment by the Blue Jays after going 3-4 with a 6.45 ERA in nine relief appearances, including allowing 17 runs in 8 1/3 innings while losing his last three starts for a ungodly 16.39 ERA in that span.
Already having cycled through four major-league teams by age 26, it seemed a safe bet that Eveland would have cleared waivers and could have been signed as a free agent.
Instead, Huntington panicked, just like he did last winter in the case of Aki Iwamura and made an unnecessary trade.
In that instance, Tampa Bay was ready to not tender the veteran second baseman a contract, which would have made him a free agent. However, Huntington gave up reliever Jesse Chavez in a trade then exercised the $4.85-million option in the 30-year-old’s contact for 2010. Iwamura is now at Indianapolis after hitting just .182 with two homers and nine RBIs in 54 games for the Pirates.
Perhaps surrendering Uviedo will turn out to be inconsequential. However, the Pirates thought enough of the 23-year-old to protect him on their 40-man roster each of the last two winters and he compiled a 3.22 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings for Altoona this season.
The Blue Jays are intrigued enough by Uviedo’s potential that they have converted him into a starter at Class AA New Hampshire.
In return for Uviedo, the Pirates got an overweight pitcher who appeared in just three games in three weeks, making only one start before manager John Russell had seen enough of him as a member of the rotation.
Eveland finished his time with the Pirates with an 8.38 ERA, allowing nine runs and 15 hits in 9 2/3 innings with five walks and three strikeouts.
It really makes you wonder what Huntington was thinking and what type of advice he gets from his scouts.
***John Perrotto is editor-in-chief of BaseballProspectus.com and baseball columnist for the Beaver County Times