The Pirates set their roster today, and there are no real surprises. They followed their MO of using option time remaining as the ultimate yardstick, and so the 25-man looks pretty much as expected. The only real coin flip was RHP Jeanmar Gomez, who was kept as Jeff Karsten's bullpen replacement. (The Bucs actually have 26 guys on the roster; we're assuming Brandon Inge will go on the DL soon.)
The Lineup: Starling Marte (LF), Andrew McCutchen (CF), Travis Snider (RF), Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez (1B), Neil Walker (2B), Clint Barmes (SS), Pedro Alvarez (3B) and Russell Martin (C).
Judging by the spring, against RHP, the lineup will be Marte, Walker, Cutch, Alvarez, Jones, Snider, Martin and Barmes. Against LHP, it looks like Marte, Martin, Cutch, Sanchez, Alvarez, Walker, Snider, and Barmes. Of course, that could all be out the window come Monday.
The Bench: Jose Tabata (OF), John McDonald (IF), Josh Harrison (IF) and Michael McKenry (C).
JT got the last spot because he's RH and out of options, certainly not on his spring stats.
The Rotation: AJ Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jonathan Sanchez and Jeff Locke.
It's what we expected it to be in February. But Jeff Karstens, Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton are all rehabbing and should be good to go before the All-Star break and maybe sooner, while Gerrit Cole is not that far from being MLB ready.
The Bullpen: Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, Chris Leroux, Justin Wilson and Jeanmar Gomez.
Wilson was a minor surprise, but outperformed Mike Zagurski handily to earn the lefty spot, while Gomez, who is out of options, has a spot more due to circumstance than performance. Jose Contrelas is lurking in rehab, and he's another arm that could be ready to go sooner rather than later.
Reassigned to Indy were Alex Presley, Jordy Mercer and Kyle McPherson. Sent to minor league camp were Felix Pie, Carlos Paulino, Lucas May, Mike Zagurski, Vin Mazzaro and Ryan Reid. Presley (.311 BA, .396 OBP), Pie (.318 BA, .423 OBP) and Mercer (.300 BA, .500 OBP) had good springs while McPherson needs to get some upper level innings under his belt.
We're thinking Mercer and Ivan DeJesus Jr. will share SS at Indy so the FO can determine if they're internal candidates to replace Clint Barmes, whose contract ends this year. We're not sure if JT is ready to bounce back or not; his spring was disappointing (.260 BA, .296 OBP) and there are clubs looking for OF help, so Presley and Pie are more than organizational insurance.
We're kinda meh about the roster and don't believe that the most productive club is going north, though our beefs are centered around the fringes rather than with the core. The pitching determined its own level, and even though the everyday roster was set before camp, Pirate City did feature a competitive few weeks with guys like Presley, Pie, Mercer and DeJesus making things interesting. It makes sense that the FO would try to buy some more time to sort out the pieces.