I hope everyone is enjoying this offseason as a lot has been going on.
The main focus of the front office has apparently been the pitching. The rotation appears to be shaping up as AJ Burrnett, Wandy Rodriguiz, Fransico Lirano, James McDonald, and Jeff Karstens. That is a decent rotation with some potential for failure in Lirano and McDonald. However, this year the Pirates have an abundance of talent to replace any slackers. The AAA rotation seems to be Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson, Gerrit Cole, and Phil Irwin. All of whom I like a lot. Don't forget Charlie Morton should be back midseason.
The bullpen has undergone a transformation with it now officially being the Jason Grilli era. He is going to have Mark Melancon as his set up man, and Vin Mazzaro as a long man. I have my concerns there, but in the pen he was not a disaster like he was as a starter in Kansas City. Tony Watson is the lefty, and Chris Leroux is out of options, so I would imagine he will make the opening day roster. I will be awaiting the arrival of Vic Black, who will probably be the closer in AAA, but I like his future.
The Pirates did fix the catcher slot, at least defensively with Russell Martin. We have to wait and see if his offense disappears and there is some reason to think it will. The Pirates did add some other guys to help out the bench, but how all of that fits is a big question mark. For example, I am super excited about the addition of Clint Robinson. Yet, where does Clint fit. He has an option, but the Jones/Sanchez platoon at first is good, so no room for Clint on the bench, and he has nothing left to prove after being very good in Omaha. Another question is what to do with the crowded infield back up slot. Assuming Barmes is the opening day short stop, that leaves the Pirates with Josh Harrison, Chase D'Arnaud, and Jordy Mercer as back ups. Harrison is a spark plug that can play second and short, and he puts the ball in play, however, he never ever walks. Chase is fast and is a more natural short than Harrison, but does not hit as well as Harrison. Jordy is the best defensive option, and the Pirates like that as he sat the bench and only did defense for many games last year. He can play any of the infield slots without a problem, and he has the most power potential in the group, but has not been given a shot to see consistent balls at the big league level to see if he is going to be able to put the ball in play at all.
The outfield is just as crowded. Marte and McCutchen are sure fire starters. This time last year I would have said Tabata was as well, but he was awful last year. Awful. The Pirates went out and acquired Jerry Sands who is a right hand hitting outfielder just like Tabata. And at the Trade Deadline last year they picked up a left hand outfielder in Travis Snider. This puts speedy lefty Alex Presley in doubt. It seems the Pirates will probably platoon a corner outfield spot, but which righty and which lefty? It seems unlikely that they would carry a fifth outfielder since Garret Jones can play outfield too, and so can Harrison in an emergency.
It will be a more interesting spring training than usual. Looking forward to it getting started.
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