Moose, not to be over optimistic, but the top 4 seem to be pretty solid and don't seem to have any indication of "blowing up sky high" -- on the other hand, none of them have proven that they will consistently be #1 or #2 starter on a good team, either.
Duke and Maholm really look like basic middle of the rotation, big-league starters. They've been around a few years and posted 5+ ERAs in 2007, but the last two years have been respectable. I don't really see any reason that those two will regress back to their 2007 form, but I would expect ERA's around 4.50. Again, not top-end rotation, but not Snell-like, either.
Ohlendorf really seemed to learn a lot during the year, both from the experience of starting the whole year and from his time with Kerrigan. From what I've heard he's a pretty bright guy, and don't really see any reason to expect him to get a lot worse than his full season's stats. He did post a sub-3.00 ERA after the all-star break.
And Morton has the best stuff on the staff. If you're concerned about him blowing up in Chicago, hey, I'll take a guy who has a 3.50 ERA in 17 starts and gives up 10 runs in 1 inning in his other start. That guy gives me a chance to win 17 out of 18 games.
Well, aside from the strong speculation that Duke will be traded at some point this season, look at it this way:
Heading into 2009, the Cubs rotation of Zambrano, Lilly, Dempster, Harden, and Marshall looked very solid. In fact, it looked to be the rotation of the favorites in the NLCD.
Yet, Randy Wells wound up coming up from AAA Iowa, and making 27 starts for the Cubs. (And did so well, that he's a mainstay in the 2010 Cubs rotation.)
Mitchell Boggs made 9 starts for the NLCD-winning Cardinals. He wasn't quite the rousing success that Wells was in Chicago, but he did ok - posting a 4.19 ERA.
The point is, that while "lady luck" hasn't exactly been the Pirates friend recently, the one area they've been quite lucky on is having almost all the starters make their scheduled starts. The rotation has seen very little DL time.
Now, that's great, and I hope it continues. But the law of averages says that it won't.
And when the Pirates lose a SP to the DL, then having a reliable innings-eater around would lessen the blow.
Now, I'm not advocating for Takahashi, necessarily. But whether it's Takahashi, or Braden Looper, or Livan Hernandez, or Noah Lowry, or Eric Milton, or any one of a number of guys whose price will come down, once pitchers and catchers report, and Huntington has a chance to grab one, he should.
And if he can get one on a minor-league deal, even to stick in the Indy rotation, along with Lincoln, Veal, Hart, etc., all the better.
He can hang a sign on whatever one he signs, saying, "Use only in Emergency". But a guy like that may prove to be very handy to have around, in a few months.
It would save from Lincoln being called up too early, if the Pirates do wind up needing a starter. Or calling up Veal before he's ready.
Sometimes, a team needs a little luck. But at the same time, luck tends to favor the prepared. And I see nothing wrong with Huntington signing an extra SP, if he can get one for under $2M. Even if they pitch half the year in Indy.