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Kevin Hart cut, McCutchen the 5th starter

As I was about to fly out of Dulles today, heading down to Florida, I saw that Kevin Hart was cut, which was a big surprise.  I had a lot of time to think about the move today, between flying down to Fort Lauderdale, talking about the move with my Dad over Primanti Brothers sandwiches, and driving my wife’s car from Fort Lauderdale to Bradenton.  Some thoughts:

Since the Pirates only need a fifth starter one time between now and April 24th, that start being on April 11th, I don’t view this as anything more than the battle for the April 11th start.  In fact, I had some thoughts on how the situation could be handled.

Daniel McCutchen is only needed on the 11th.  To keep him up for two weeks would be a waste.  The Pirates could option McCutchen down to the minors to get him some work between April 11th and April 24th.  Since McCutchen would be down for less than 20 days, he would not burn through an option, assuming he doesn’t spend any more days on optional assignment during the 2010 season.  This allows the Pirates to get more work for McCutchen in the time off, plus it would make it easier for them to carry an extra bench player.

The Pirates could carry six bench players, making it very possible to keep John Raynor.  They’d have to go with one fewer bullpen arm the first week, although that’s not a problem with D.J. Carrasco in the mix.  Then, after McCutchen’s start, send him down and bring up a reliever to help the bullpen.  Now the extra bench spot is being borrowed from the roster spot which would normally be used by the fifth starter.  Then, by April 24th, when you’re ready to call up McCutchen again, you make your decision on the bench.

Of course, all of that could be avoided if they traded Ramon Vazquez to the Rangers, as the Rangers reportedly are looking at Vazquez, according to Ed Price.  And we might have to consider that I had too much time to think about this in my tour of Florida this afternoon.

As for the April 11th-April 24th time frame, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kevin Hart was given the chance to win the fifth starter role in that time.  In fact, the Pirates save an option on Hart by bringing him up no later than April 17th.  That gives him time for 2-3 starts at the Indy level.

Neal Huntington admits that Hart had the inside track, and Hart really blew that chance in Spring Training with his poor control.  But the organization seems to like him, so if he gets the control worked out in AAA to start the season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him up sooner, rather than later.

Also on the cut list today: Neil Walker, Brian Myrow, Hector Gimenez, Jean Machi, Wilfredo Ledezma, Brian Burres, and Chris Jakubauskas.  Walker, Hart, and Jakubauskas were all assigned to AAA, with the rest assigned to minor league camp, and all of them likely ending up at the AAA level.  The Spring Training tracker and the projected 25-man roster pages are updated with the moves.

I’ll be going to Pirates City in the morning.  Leave a comment with any requests for pictures, videos, or interview questions and I’ll see what I can do.  You can follow my updates throughout the day by subscribing to my Twitter feed, and you’ll be able to see all of the pictures by becoming a fan of the BUCCO Fans Facebook page.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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