Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekend Report

After the first few games at camp, the players look like they came to Bradenton ready to play. The positional rundown to date:

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen is off to a scorching start, and Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones look ready to hold on to their positions. Ryan Church has been more than solid. Brandon Moss, 100% healthy, isn't ready to concede his roster spot. John Raynor and Jose Tabata are keeping themselves in the mix. Gorkys Hernandez hasn't shown anything, Brandon Jones remains a mystery man, and Delwyn Young has taken all his reps and innings at second base.

Starters: So who can tell with a two-inning limit and just once around the rotation to date? All the guys kept the ball down, and except for Charlie Morton and Kevin Hart, in the strike zone.

Fifth Starter: Daniel McCutchen and Kevin Hart weren't very sharp in their first outings. They're keeping Brad Lincoln in the race for that final spot, although both 2009 holdovers would have to go down in flames for Lincoln to have his MLB clock started in April.

Bullpen: Lookin' good, except for Steve Jackson and Virgil Vasquez. Jack Taschner has been a pleasant surprise, striking out five of the six batters that he's faced. Still, it's awfully thin until Octavio Dotel and Joel Hanrahan come back from injuries; both are supposed to be ready before camp ends. Until then, we won't find out if Dotel is the next Jose Mesa - or Solly Torres.

Shortstop: Ronny Cedeno continues to look like, well, Ronny Cedeno. Bobby Crosby has been solid in the field and at bat, but it is still Cedeno's job to lose, so say the suits (although GW has no idea why the spot isn't an open competition).

First Base: Jeff Clement has been making all the routine plays and making contact; so far, so good with the experiment.

Second Base: Aki Iwamura has been steady; he's shown the patience to hit in the two hole though he hasn't shown that he's a pull hitter who can take advantage of the second base hole yet. Range at second hasn't been great, but it's early and he does have a brace on his knee, so that will bear watching.

Third Base: Andy LaRoche is sharp so far; finding a place for him when Pedro comes up should be a Pirate priority.

Catcher: Ryan Doumit owns the spot. But Eric Kratz has been the camp surprise with his stick, and Tony Sanchez has lived up to his top gun selection in last year's draft. Jason Jaramillo hasn't gotten much work, and while we think he's set as a back-up, he'd be wise to pick it up with Kratz making some noise.

Bench: Way too early to speculate; the Bucs have several options and configurations available to them.

So it's been a good couple of weeks at camp so far; most players look up to the challenge. But there are still miles to go...


WilliamJPellas said...

If Brandon Moss is healthy, he might yet be able to hold Raynor off. I'm not personally a fan of Moss, but I do feel badly that he was obviously damaged goods last year, and in fairness it's probably too early to write him off---even if I like Raynor and his skillset better. I wonder if Florida would be willing to make a deal with us so we could keep Raynor at Triple A until later in the season? It could be that our final roster spot will come down to Moss vs Raynor, and we seem to have a few spare parts that, along with some cash, might be enough for Florida to relinquish their Rule V rights to Raynor.

Gorkys Hernandez is gonna have to prove it to me and, I suspect, to the front office. He just doesn't look good at all, and really, hasn't looked good since coming here from the Braves' organization.

Agreed totally re: Ronny Cedeno. I think he's probably serviceable, but he definitely should not have a lock on the starting job. No way.

I sure hope Charlie Morton is able to find home plate before much longer. If he crashes and burns, the McLouth trade might go down as one of the worst in recent memory.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Moss is staying alive early on, Will. The only problem I have, and it's been one for a while, is that the Pirates have no center field backup, at least until Tabata comes up.

I never understood why Cedeno is getting a free ride. Just think - with a little effort, the middle could have been JJ Hardy and Felipe Lopez. Not great, but sure an upgrade.

The pitching will sort itself out; guys have a way of going down and I still think they're a couple of seasons away from having any true starting depth, but we'll see what the suits think. Maybe they're willing to force feed some guys now for future benefit later.