Winter Meetings Notebook: Who to take in the Rule 5 Draft
The Pittsburgh Pirates pick second in the 2009 Rule 5 draft, which is today at 9:00 AM. With an open spot on the roster, it’s pretty much confirmed that the Pirates will make a selection, which is good considering how much time I’ve spent researching the Rule 5 draft over the last few weeks.
Of course that wasn’t for nothing, as the site has seen more people this week (and I’m talking about three days, because I’m not one of those crazy people who counts Sunday as the start of the week) than the entire month of September. Ironically, I think the Pirates have as many wins this week as they did in the entire month of September. Most of the traffic has been from links from other team’s forums, and a few from Pirates forums, so I just wanted to take this time to say thanks. It made me feel like the work was appreciated, especially during the brief time period where Neal Huntington was talking about not selecting a player (which for me would kind of be like washing your car only to have it start raining ten minutes later).
The draft is now upon us, and the Pirates pick second. The Washington Nationals have the first pick, although they traded that pick to the New York Yankees this week. There were rumors that the Yankees were shopping the pick, although it has recently been announced that the Nationals would take an unprotected Yankees prospect, left handed pitcher Zach Kroenke, and send him to New York in order for the Yankees to replace the recently traded Phil Coke.
Although Neal Huntington has danced around the issue of whether there is a talent that stands out, I feel there are a few talents that are worthy of the number two pick. You can check out all of the players I’ve profiled over the past few weeks in the links below, as well as some trends of the last three Rule 5 drafts:
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo suggested that the Pirates could be looking at a position player, and said there was some buzz that it could be a catcher. The only way that would make sense is if the Pirates intended to trade Ryan Doumit, and Neal Huntington said nothing was imminent. If we did take a catcher, the guy I’d like if Doumit was traded is Anthony Recker from Oakland. Recker turned 26 in August, and hit for a .261/.333/.449 line with 12 homers in 272 at-bats in AAA last year. His career line in AA is .256/.327/.411 with 18 homers in 688 at-bats.
With the signing of Bobby Crosby, I think a middle infielder is out of the question. The Pirates now have Akinori Iwamura, Ronny Cedeno, Bobby Crosby, and Ramon Vazquez on the roster. As for an outfielder, there are a few interesting options. John Shelby tops my list, coming off a down year offensively in AA, but possessing strong defense, good speed, and good power for a center fielder. He can also play second base, shortstop, and both corner outfield positions.
Truthfully I don’t see the Pirates taking a position player. Their bench looks to be set next season with the current makeup of the roster. Jason Jaramillo is guaranteed a spot, and if Doumit is traded, that spot will go to another backup catcher (likely Erik Kratz). Delwyn Young will also have a spot, as will Ramon Vazquez due to his salary (it’s unlikely the Pirates could get rid of him). The loser of the shortstop battle between Ronny Cedeno and Bobby Crosby will take the fourth spot, leaving one final spot. That spot will likely go to Brandon Moss, who is out of options.
Now you could say that the Pirates should cut Moss in favor of a Rule 5 pick, but that brings up a problem. Pedro Alvarez is due up in June, which would move Andy LaRoche to the bench, making it even harder to keep a position player on the roster. The situation gets even muddier if Jose Tabata also gets the call in June.
As I type this, Jonathan Mayo has tweeted an update that says the Pirates are looking at a right handed pitcher in the draft. That brings me to my favorite choice in the draft, Aneury Rodriguez. Rodriguez was surprisingly left off the Tampa Bay 40-man roster after being acquired for Jason Hammel before the 2009 season. Rodriguez posted a 4.50 ERA with an 7.0 K/9 and a 3.7 BB/9 in 142 innings in AA this past season.
nbsp;Pino relies on off-speed pitches, with a great curveball and slider. He throws in the mid-to-high 80s, but still manages to fool hitters, with an 8.6 K/9 in 127 innings between AA and AAA in 2009. Pino also has solid control, with a 2.1 BB/9 ratio last season.
at some of the recent starting pitching contractsand determined that the free agent market may be out of the Pirates’ price range, but that the trade value of Zach Duke has just gone up.