Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 Roster Outlook

What would the Pirates look like if they went to camp with today's roster?

Starting Pitching:
  • Returning: RHP AJ Burnett, LHP Wandy Rodriguez, RHP James McDonald, LHP Jeff Locke, RHP Kyle McPherson. 
  • Added: LHP Francisco Liriano, LHP Andy Oliver.
  • Gone: RHP Kevin Correia, RHP Jeff Karstens.
  • In Reserve: LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Phil Irwin, RHP Rick Van Den Hurk, RHP Gerrit Cole (at some undetermined point), RHP Charlie Morton (mid-season).
Burnett, Rodriguez, McDonald and Liriano will form the rotation, joined by the winner of the Locke-McPherson battle for the fifth starter. There's a lot of potential upside to the staff, but a lot of questions, too - will AJ and Wandy show their age, can J-Mic put together a full season, can Franky find the strike zone, and will the fifth starter at least provide a KC-type performance? Cole could be ready sometime this summer, and Morton too, along with some back-end candidates at Indy, so there is some depth to the rotation this season.
  • Returning: RHP Jason Grilli, RHP Jared Hughes, RHP Tony Watson, RHP Bryan Morris, RHP Chris Leroux.
  • Added: RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Zach Stewart, RHP Vin Mazzaro, LHP Mike Zagurski, LHP Philippe Valiquette.
  • Gone: RHP Joel Hanrahan, RHP Chris Resop, RHP Chad Qualls, LHP Hisanori Takahashi, RHP Daniel McCutchen, RHP Evan Meek, LHP Doug Slaten.
  • In Reserve: RHP Vic Black, LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Chad Beck, RHP Hunter Strickland, RHP Duke Welker.
The Bucs are set from the seventh inning on, so it's a matter of filling in the pieces. We look for a couple more veteran arms to be brought in as camp draws nearer. If Grilli or Melancon aren't up to the back end jobs, Morris should be ready to step in.
  • Returning: Mike McKenry.
  • Added: Russell Martin.
  • Gone: Rod Barajas, Eric Fryer.
  • In Reserve: Tony Sanchez.
Not very deep; none of the position spots save the OF are. The Bucs overpaid for Russell, but are hoping for a little better offense and a lot better run-game defense than Hot Rod provided. 
  • Returning: Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Travis Snider, Jose Tabata, Alex Presley.
  • Added: Jerry Sands, Felix Pie, Darren Ford. 
  • Gone: None.
  • In Reserve: None.
Cutch is the only dependable player in the group, but there is lots of upside and depth. The best thing the Pirates could do is set a regular playing rotation for the group instead of the shotgun approach they took last season and suffer through the growing pains. We'd expect a Marte, McCutch, Snider/Sands platoon. Felix Pie may be best suited as an extra OF'er among the rest of the gang. This is Pirates deepest position, and youngest in terms of experience. It's also likely that one or two players will be dealt to help clear the logjam, either in a minor move or perhaps as part of a Garrett Jones package.
Corner Infield:
  • Returning: Pedro Alvarez (3B), Garrett Jones (1B), Gaby Sanchez (1B).
  • Added: Clint Robinson (1B), Jared Goedert (3B).
  • Gone: Jeff Clement (1B), Nick Evans (1B).
  • In Reserve: Jeff Larish (1B), Matt Hague (1B).
Paper thin, and there is still a possibility Jones will be moved before the season. Alex Dickerson and Matt Curry are in the upper levels of the system, though neither is MLB ready yet, if ever.
Middle Infield:
  • Returning: Neil Walker (2B), Clint Barmes (SS), Jordy Mercer (SS), Josh Harrison (UT), Chase d'Arnaud (UT).
  • Added: None.
  • Gone: Brock Holt (2B), Yamaico Navarro (UT).
  • In Reserve: Ivan DeJesus Jr. (UT), Anderson Hernandez (UT).
The starters are fine - we expect a bounce back year from Barmes - but again, there's no depth behind them. We're sorta surprised the FO hasn't picked up a veteran bench middle IF'er yet. Could be they think that job is Harrison's to lose.

On paper, it appears that the pitching is deep enough this year, and so is the outfield. But most of the Pirates' top prospects are in A ball, so a couple of injuries could really derail the club.

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