Starters: Frankie Liriano, Gerrit Cole, AJ Burnett, Jeff Locke, Vance Worley/Charlie Morton (DL).
- No true ace, but a blend of styles and lefty-righty balance. This is the make-or-break area of the club. The Bucs need Frankie and Gerrit not to be aces, but to pitch like top of the rotation guys, AJ to eat some innings and the back end to hold its own.
Bullpen: Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo, Jared Hughes, Arquimedes Caminero, Radhames Liz, Rob Scahill.
- The back end is strong, and Caminero has been the camp surprise. Scahill has worked part of the last three seasons with the Rockies and is a fastball/slider guy with 14K in 12 spring innings. His issue is control, which was adequate in camp (3.0/nine innings). Our guess is Scahill was stronger than anyone on the waiver wire and the Pirates want to work on Big John Holdzkom with a dose of regular innings before bringing him back.
|Rob Scahill makes the club (Pirate Photo Day/Dave Arrigo)|
- This should be the best offensive club the Bucs have had in a couple of decades. The infield leather is dependable although not very rangy, but boy, that outfield can sure go get 'em.
- As solid as its been during the Coonelly/Huntington era. Sanchez has showed a good stick, tho he still isn't the soft hands framer the Bucs prefer, Kang came around in the past few days and Hart hit well. Rodriguez hasn't hit but played everywhere on the field; Lambo gives Clint a LH stick as he tries to shake another iffy camp. When Stewart returns, the bench will exchange offense for defense. We'll see if Travis Snider is missed; that's the one move that raised eyebrows during the off season.
Starters: Nick Kingham, Clayton Richard, Casey Sadler, Adrian Sampson and perhaps Jameson Taillon sometime after the All-Star break are ready to step into a back end role. Tyler Glasnow may be ready for a September look. Who knows - maybe Chris Volstad will join the reclamation gang. The position is deep enough that losing Brandon Cumpton to TJ surgery wasn't a major blow.
Bullpen: Big John Holdzkom, Bobby LaFromboise, Blake Wood & Wilfredo Bascon are the likeliest suspects to get a call, and that's a good enough crew to serve as mid-inning bridges. Brad Lincoln will also get coached up; a two-seamer may help rescue his career. Stolmy may rejoin the gang, too; he has a good chance of going unclaimed.
Position Players: There are a ton of adequate fourth outfielders, led by Jaff Decker with a pack of pups nipping at their heels. The infield is considerably more iffy, with Alen Hansen being at the head of the class; hence Kang's signing. Gustav Nunez may be the next man up. Steve Lombardozzi has the bat but throwing problems; Gift Ngoepe and Justin Sellers have the gloves, but not the bats, and the FO hopes the coaches can make Deibinson Romero into an acceptable corner guy. They'd love to get Florimon back, but it's iffy that he'll get through waivers.Tony Sanchez (when he returns to Indy) and Elias Diaz provide some younger depth behind the plate.
- The Pirates didn't buy Andy Oliver back from the Phils as a Rule 5 washout. He cleared waivers and selected free agency.
- Jeanmar Gomez earned a spot on the Phils 25-man roster.
- Don Kelly on Butler, Mt Lebo HS, Point Park College & briefly the Bucs made the Marlins' roster. Oh, he's Neil Walker's bro-in-law, too.
- The Braves released former Pirate closer Matt Capps
- The Dodgers have acquired lefty Rudy Owens from the Athletics. Owens was a top Buc prospect who was traded from Pittsburgh as part of the Wandy Rodriguez deal.