Like you said, no real risk involved with it. He and Liriano are both good signings. Guys who have had some real success before but have slipped performance wise recently. If they can put it back together than great, if not, we have younger guys who are ready to step up
I'm trying to make some sense of what the AAA rotation might look like. If we assume Karstens and Locke will take the 4th and 5th spots to begin the year (Liriano goes unsigned or starts on the DL) that gives us:
McPherson, Sanchez, Cole, Irwin, Wilson, Oliver, Cumpton, Gomez (if he clears waivers), Mazzaro (if he clears waivers), Leroux (if he clears waivers), Brooks Brown and possibly Pimentel as starting options for AAA.
That is a ton of options for 5 spots. Now 1 of Leroux/Mazzaro/Gomez will probably make the bullpen as it is currently constructed and its possible someone in the Sanchez/Wilson/Oliver trio is kept as a second lefty for the pen but that still leaves too many options. And it is not as if all these guys will go to relieving because Black, Welker, Waldrop, Zagurski, Bromberg, Cordier, Inman, Johnson, Reid and a handful of others figure to possibly be factors there. Nonetheless I like the strategy of stockpiling a bunch of at least slightly intriguing arms for AAA.
That appears to be the strategy. Just get as many arms as we can round up and hope some of them pan out. Fortunately most of what we have is at least intriguing. It is not unreasonable to think the Pirates can cobble a strong starting 5 out of Burnett, Rodriguez, McDonald, Liriano, Karstens, Locke, McPherson, Sanchez, Cole, Morton, Wilson, Oliver and Irwin this season. There are a handful of other options as well but, with the exception of Taillon lighting the world on fire, if any of them get a real chance something has gone horribly wrong.
Consistency (along with the rotation) will be one of the biggest keys this season. If we could have good Alvarez (aka, the guy who shows up every 2 weeks) consistent production from the RF, C, and SS positions, we could be alright.
I'm not saying they have to light the world on fire but think about some of the awful stretches Barajas, Barmes, Alvarez, and others had last year