Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Position Battles In Camp...

The starting positions, save for first base and right field, are fairly set up going into camp.

Andrew McCutchen
Starling Marte
Jose Tabata
Travis Snider
Chris Dickerson
Jaff Decker

The first three players are in; the other three, with maybe Andrew Lambo added to the list, are fighting for a spot or two. Snider was tendered in arbitration and will get a last chance to make an impression; many liken him to late-blooming Brandon Moss. Dickerson can play all three outfield positions, but hasn't been able to handle LHP. Decker is a corner OF'er with an impressive minor league OBP, but with a pair of options is likely to start his Pirate career at Indy. Lambo comes into RF play if first base isn't addressed, and has all his options intact. Of course, they are all expected to be throne-warmers until the coronation of Gregory Polanco. But he may not burst on the scene as soon as expected. For all his hype, Polanco has just nine AAA plate appearances.

Russ Martin
Chris Stewart
Tony Sanchez

It seems like the Bucs are happy to begin the season with defensive stalwart Stewart as the back up, and giving Sanchez a regular gig at Indy.

First Base:
Gaby Sanchez
Andrew Lambo
Travis Ishikawa
Chris McGuiness

Gaby is the right side of the first base platoon; the other trio with jostle for the lefty half of the equation. Lambo had a breakout year in the minors, but no track record in the show. Ishikawa has some MLB time and a .260 BA, but his lifetime .737 OPS against RHP barely edges Garrett Jones .730 of last season. McGuiness is a glove guy with 10 games in the show, but has an advantage in that he's on the 40-man roster, which Ishikawa isn't. Matt Hague is still around if Pittsburgh needs a right handed stick The Bucs have waited out the market for a first baseman, and we still expect them to land one once Kendrys Morales and Nelson Cruz sign; that should shake a couple of 1B candidates free.

Second Base:
Neil Walker
Josh Harrison

The Pittsburgh Kid is it, but with injuries becoming more commonplace and his RH batting suspect, we'd expect to see him sitting a little more with Harrison and Jordy Mercer picking up the slack against southpaws. Robert Andino provides veteran back-up at Indy, along with multi-positional Mike Martinez and Chase d'Arnaud.

Jordy Mercer
Clint Barmes

Same as last year, and we wouldn't be surprised to see Barmes at least split time with Mercer. Blake Davis, along with Martinez and d'Arnaud, will be the depth.

Third Base:
Pedro Alvarez

What, you expected more? Harrison is his back up, but doesn't swing a Pedro-esque hammer, and that complete lack of anyone behind El Toro is the major reason this isn't more of a platoon position. Proof of the pudding - Russ Martin is third on the hot corner depth chart, behind Harrison.

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