Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bucs Play Option Game

The beat gang reports that Pirates infielder Pedro Ciriaco was optioned to AAA Indianapolis this afternoon, so Rule 5 pick Josh Rodriguez has made the club. The Bucs couldn't swing a deal with Cleveland to keep Rodriguez, at least to date, so Ciriaco and his option lost out.

GM Neal Huntington said that Chris Snyder is "very probable" to open the season on the DL.That means that the Pirates can carry both Jason Jaramillo and John Bowker. Bowker was out of options, while JJ has one remaining.

The Pirates have found a way to stockpile, at least for the short term, all their out-of-option players. Rodriguez, Bowker, and Charlie Morton all made the team; Garrett Olson is a pretty safe bet to stick, too. Kevin Hart is on the DL, and Jose Ascanio is in all likelihood going to join him shortly.

Our only concerns with picking J-Rod over Ciriaco are speed and defense for the big club, and a logjam of infielders at Indy. The Pirates don't have a bench guy that can run, and it looks like Garrett Jones becomes Jose Tabata's back-up, at least at PNC Park, while Tabata is McCutch's caddy. Ciriaco was being groomed for that double-duty job.

Maybe Ronny Cedeno is the one the Turk should have visited; he hit .226 in the spring and drew one walk in 54 plate appearances. Oh, he's out of options, too. We'll see how he plays out this season.

As for Indy, Brian Friday and Ciriaco will be holdovers in the middle infield along with Corey Wimberly, while all of the Altoona gang - Chase d'Arnaud, Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison - are looking for a move to AAA and some at-bats. Following the minor league assignments should be a hot side story this year, for a welcome change.

Before we get too righteous, it's also possible the FO has some irons in the fire. They could still be working on some deals, including for Rodriguez or Dewey, and may be considering switching some positions; Wimberly may end up in Indy's OF. And they may feel that all the Altoona guys aren't ready to step up yet. There are still some moving parts that are waiting to settle.

As for the bullpen, two spots are open for three guys, Garrett Olson, Mike Crotta, and Chris Leroux. Olson is the surest bet, being both the sole lefty with Joe Beimel on ice, and out of options. Leroux has an option remaining, and Crotta has all three of his to burn.

Of course, that's dependent on who gets the ax around the league as the camps wind down; the Bucs love to dumpster-dive.

That's the last roster decision to be made before it's time to play ball for real on of now.

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