Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable #13

Question #1:
How many games should Ryan Doumit play in 2007? With Paulino, LaRoche and Nady as starters, would the Pirates be better off trading Doumit to fill other needs?

Alan from Bucco Wire:
Ryan Doumit should play in any as many games as he can. His bat should see every game possible at least once, meaning I’d consider a game appearance for him to include a pinch-hitting situation. His bat has the possibility to be a difference-maker and needs to be given that opportunity. And, at this point, with Doumit’s age and health concerns, I don’t think there’s too much of a market for him, so attempting to trade him would be pointless. Let him be a bench player that fills in at catcher, first base, right field or anywhere he can handle. And definitely get the bat off of the bench in power situations when needed. Don’t let him rot away.
Nicolas from “82”:
Doumit should play as many games as necessary to increase his value to another team. I think. Obviously, he has been bumped to bench guy with Paulino’s play last year and our acquisition of LaRoche, and he could certainly be useful to at least a few teams out there. At the same time, I don’t see him landing anything more than filler, “AAAA” prospects or another mediocre hitter unless he has a very impressive season, and if he has that kind of season he should remain in our lineup (which I presume would be at the expense of Nady).
Chris from The Unofficial Pittsburgh Pirates Message Board:
Doumit is interesting but only if he stays healthy. So far, he has missed too many games to say whether he can be an everyday major league player. Also, there is the issue of where to play him, although that becomes less important if he hits. Doumit will fill in at many different places in 2007, but don’t expect him to catch very much. The good news is the Pirates will probably keep Humberto Cota or Einar Diaz as a backup catcher, which will allow Jim Tracy to use Doumit when he needs (or wants) to. Otherwise, he has to have that backup catcher scenario in the back of his mind. Trading Doumit isn’t really an option because the return would be minimal while the reward if he ends up succeeding could be enormous.
Randy from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.:
I see Doumit playing at the same rate that Craig Wilson played in 2003. He’ll get into 80 to 120 games, depending on injuries and performance. I would imagine he’ll be the primary back up at catcher behind Paulino. (To me, Paulino shouldn’t be handed the job.) He’ll also get some time at first, just like last year. Although he played 23 innings in right field in 2005, I don’t really want to see him in the outfield. Assuming he isn’t the starting catcher, I would think he’d be the primary designated hitter in interleague games and the first option off the bench in pinch-hitting situations, at least early on. I wouldn’t think he has significant trade value. So, I don’t think unloading him makes any sense. If both he and Paulino tear the cover off the ball the first half of the season, trading one of them at the deadline would most likely bring some value.
Rowdy from Honest Wagner:
I dunno how many games Doumit “should” play, but he’s likely to play a lot. Nady has never established himself as an everyday player. He struggles against right-handed pitching. Doumit, McLouth and Bautista have been no better against RHP, but I don’t foresee Nady doing so well that he obviously must be in the lineup every day. Bautista will be busy with backup work in center and at third. McLouth does not look like someone who plays best when he plays often. LaRoche is not going to get 700 plate appearances as the first baseman, and Doumit looks like his backup. The other player backing up a number of starters is Bautista. He looks set for plenty of work even with Doumit on the team. The Pirates should not trade Doumit without acquiring another player who can play first and right field. If he stays healthy, Doumit should see 350 plate appearances even if there are no significant injuries to Nady or LaRoche.
Tony from The Confluence:
Ryan Doumit should play approximately 100 to 120 games this coming year, or about six games per week in some capacity. Doumit should for once and for all replace Cota as the backup catcher; in fact, Cota should be released this spring training. Doumit’s strength as a good contact hitter from both sides of the plate are invaluable to the Bucs’ bench, as well as being able to spell Paulino and LaRoche from time to time. But the key point for Doumit is staying healthy. If he stays healthy, he could become Jim Tracy’s #1 pinch hitter off the bench.
D.J. from The Derek Bell Yacht Co.:
I don’t think that trading Doumit would be very wise at this point. It probably wouldn’t help them at all this season because Doumit couldn’t bring anything of value with his reputation for being injury prone. I would use him as a super-sub type player, much in the same way Craig Wilson was used a few years back. As high as I am on Ronny Paulino, we really don’t know if he can continue to play at such a high level as he did in 2007–and injuries have always plagued the Pirates (whether it be at first base or in the outfield).
If Jody Gerut is not ready right out of the gate, which is quite likely right now, I would assume that there would be a drop-off in power from Gerut to McLouth from the left-handed portion of a right field platoon. Doumit would be a nice player to stick into the outfield every once in a while against a right-hander whom Nady traditionally struggles against. He could also provide Adam LaRoche with a day off, and we could maybe see Jose Bautista sub for Nady in right for a Sunday game. You would still see considerable power in the lineup from Doumit/Bautista. It’s more comforting to see those two names in the lineup than some of the garbage players that we’ve seen Mac and Tracy run out the past few seasons on Sundays.
I still see Doumit as a bench player, but he is very valuable to the Bucs as an insurance policy in case any of the aforementioned guys go down. As far as at-bats go, it would be difficult to estimate. I’d say that he would start about 1-2 games per week, and be used as a late-inning defensive replacement (in a blowout) or as a late-inning pinch-hitter (in a tight game).
Question #2:
Which Pirates’ player will break out in 2007?

Alan from Bucco Wire:
I believe Tom Gorzelanny will have a breakout season for the Bucs. Coming through the system, Gorz mowed down batters at each stop. He’s had two short stints at the big leagues already and has gotten the first-few-starts jitters out of his system–kind of the way Ian Snell did in his short stays before breaking out last year. Gorz has the talent and stuff to compete now at a high level and I think this year he surpasses expectations. By how much? I don’t know. But it could be a better than average season for this lefty.
Nicolas from “82”:
I’m not too sure any Pirate will have a real breakout season. Most of the players in Pirate uniforms have done reasonably the same thing for a long enough period that we have a reasonable idea of what to expect from them, and it would therefore take a huge year to really be considered a break-out–at which point we would immediately shower it with “where the hell did this come from” skepticism.
So a breakout year could only really be someone who we just drafted. It can’t be Loncoln, because a year like that is expected from him eventually. All that said, I think if anyone, I’ll go with Shelby Ford. I don’t know a lot about the last draft class, but common opinion seems to be that if nothing else, there is more to Shelby than initially meets the eye. Count me in the unsurprised if he has a great year.
Rowdy from Honest Wagner:
All the starters are candidates to have above-average seasons, I think. Of them, Bones and I like Snell best. I expect some inconsistency from him, however. Duke I expect to be the most consistent. Of the hitters, Bautista and Doumit look like breakout candidates. If one of Bay, Sanchez, Castillo, LaRoche, Nady or Duffy is lost for several months to injury, either Bautista or Doumit will have the chance for all the playing time they can handle. Even if those other starters stay healthy, Bautista and Doumit are more or less guaranteed the opportunity to play enough to make some noise.
Tony from The Confluence:
I don’t know if any Pirate will actually “break out” this year, at least at the plate. I think their top-notch players such as Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche most likely won’t see their stats raise up much more than they’ve already been. Middle of the road hitters like Jack Wilson, Chris Duffy and Jose Castillo may raise up their numbers by maybe five HR and ten RBI or so, but they’ll never get to the level that Bay and LaRoche are. We can only hope that Freddy Sanchez can hit .344 again. The only hitter that I see that has a chance to have a breakout year is Xavier Nady, who will play probably 150 games or so in right field or first base. On the pitching mound, this could be the year for Zach Duke. Duke has that Tom Glavine-ish type of stuff that fools the hell out of his opponents. He only turns 24 this April, so one could easily attribute his struggles to his young age and maturity.
D.J. from The Derek Bell Yacht Co.:
I’m going to kind of dance around this question, as I have two answers–both of which are based on a certain condition. There is one player who I hope is able to break out, and there is one player who I think will break out if he is given a chance to break out. The player that I hope will break out, as I’m sure most Pirate fans do, is Jose Castillo. He’s shown some promise in the Venezuelan Winter League and looked impressive in the Caribbean World Series. Castillo has toyed with us for too long, showing just how much ability he does have in those trademark stretches of his. (Remember last year in late May/early June against the Brewers? I most certainly do.) I was hoping that someone would step up and light a fire under Jose, but I didn’t want it to be Jack Wilson. Jim Tracy should’ve sat down with him the first chance he got in Spring Training and built him up, telling Jose that he is the key to the Pirates’ season (as I believe he is) and that he needs to be more consistent.
The player that I think, though, is a lock to break out (again, if he is given the chance to) is another Jose–Jose Bautista. I have a feeling this kid is going to be pretty good–and had he not rotted away on major-league benches all of the 2004 season and had been given a chance to develop in the minors, he could’ve already been playing at a high level by now. You are probably seeing a theme develop here. If Jose Castillo breaks out and becomes the player we’ve been anticipating him to be, Bautista probably won’t collect as many at-bats this season. If Castillo starts to turn in another less-than-stellar campaign in ’07, we’ll probably see more of Bautista–meaning that he will truly get his chance. One of these two guys is destined to break out in 2007, helping lead the Bucs to–dare I say–a winning record!
Chris from The Unofficial Pittsburgh Pirates Message Board:
Most Pirate fans are probably looking for a hitter to be the answer to this question, but I am going in a different direction. Tom Gorzelanny has the most upside of any of the starting pitchers, but he did not have a high-profile rookie season like Zach Duke or Paul Maholm did in 2005. Although Gorzo might not fully blossom until 2008, I think he can get it done this season. If he does have success, it will be because he improves his BB/IP ratio which was very good in August but tailed off in September. If he can regain that control, he could easily be elevated to the top of the Pirates rotation.
Randy from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.:
I think Midre Cummings, Jermaine Allensworth and J.J. Davis are due to break out. A break out season from Xavier Nady would have the most impact. So, I’m naming him. He’s 28 and he’s gotten roughly 1250 ABs in the show. It’s time.

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