Thursday, March 19, 2009

18 Days And 15 Players To Go...

The Bucs had the day off, and we figured it's time to take a look at who's left standing with 2-1/2 weeks until opening day. There are 40 guys remaining, and the final roster, as GW sees it, is in bold:

Starters: Jason Davis, Zach Duke, Phil Dumatrait, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Ian Snell, and Virgil Vasquez.

Except for injury, trade, or self-destruction, this rotation is set - but the fifth guy better not get too comfortable; Dumatrait will take a spot as soon as his arm is ready. And the Pirates were actively seeking a back-ender when free agency started; although that well is dry, the possibility of a deal for a late cut could still be struck.

Bullpen: Denny Bautista, Chris Bootcheck, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, John Grabow, Craig Hansen, Evan Meek, Donnie Veal, and Tyler Yates.

There's some wobble room here, especially regarding Burnett if Grabow and Veal both break camp; Bootcheck or even Chavez will have an opening if he doesn't straighten up. They'll take 12 arms north with them; there are a slew of games in April because of the WBC.

Catchers: Robinzon Diaz, Ryan Doumit, and Jason Jaramillo.

We think they'll start with a bat over a glove, but the local beat guys say both Jaramillo and Diaz could caddy for Doumit, alternating between the big club and Indy.

Infield: Brian Bixler, Luis Cruz, Garrett Jones, Adam LaRoche, Andy LaRoche, Pedro Lopez, Anderson Machado, Andy Phillips, Freddy Sanchez, Ramon Vazquez, and Jack Wilson.

Jones has made a strong case, but there are just too many corner guys in the mix. But if Adam LaRoche gets shipped this year, he'll be the guy they'll plug into his spot. Phillips should make the club, but he better climb out of the tub soon or Bix could claim his spot.

Outfield: Eric Hinske, Andrew McCutchen, Nate McLouth, Craig Monroe, Brandon Moss, Nyjer Morgan, Steve Pearce, and Jeff Salazar.

If Morgan keeps hitting like a hockey player, Salazar could sneak in, although the Pirates would like to have two center-field types until McCutchen gets his call. Pearce will go back to first at Indy as a Plan B for any Adam LaRoche deal.


WilliamJPellas said...

I'll say this much, Ron: the 25 man roster, as you describe it, is definitely better than what we saw as we broke camp last season. No doubt about it. The bench, in particular, is dramatically improved. The 'pen, I think, is marginally better, and still not really good enough. But it's not terrible, either.

As with most teams, our rotation will tell the tale. If it pitches to its true capabilities, I think we will surprise some people this year. If not, we'll still be better, but not by much.

So, I'll call my shot: we'll be between 5 and 15 wins better, depending mostly on our starting pitching. PS If Snell gets it together and has a strong year, we should trade him next offseason before he implodes again.

Ron Ieraci said...

It's a better bench, Will, and Russell will have some day-to-day options with it. But the key, as you said, is the pitching. And it looks awfully inconsistent now.

Maybe it's because all the AA players are out of the spring lineups now, or maybe its just the dogdays of camp. But it has to pick up.