Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bullpen Spots Filling Up

With the announcement that Joel Hanrahan will close, the Bucco bullpen looks to be set through the last three innings; only a pair of long spots remain open.

Hanny will pitch the ninth. Evan Meek and Joe Beimel will set up. It's very likely that Chris Resop and Jose Veras will be the bridge arms. And those last two open spots have a lot of story lines.

If Charlie Morton can't whip Scott Olsen for the fifth starter spot, the FO is between a rock and a hard place; Morton out of options. The question is whether or not the Bucs are out of patience with him.

If Olsen loses, he has options, and we think he and the team would be better served stretching him out at Indy. But he is a lefty, and the Pirates have precious few of those. Brian Burres is another option, and he's on a minor league deal, so he's no harm, no foul if he starts out in AAA either.

Of course, Jeff Karstens has served the role of long guy/spot starter admirably, and has proven he can give you five good innings most nights. Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio were both injured last season and are out of options, to boot. Do the Pirates want to give them a season to show if they can help the team? Hart can probably be slid onto the DL for awhile; Ascanio is thought to be ready to go.

Sean Gallagher, Tyler Yates, Chris Leroux and Fernando Nieve all have MLB experience. They can also all be sent to Indy safely; we'd expect them to be insurance policies; Gallagher and probably Nieve will get some rotation time there.

They are limited as to how many guys they ship to Indy; Danny Moskos, Mike Crotta and Tony Watson need some upper level work, too.

So determining the last couple of spots will make for interesting decisions. It's a good sign that the Pirates are in a position where they have to make hard choices for a change, even if it is just around the fringes of the club. It sure beats the usual dumpster diving of the past.

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