The Worst Part of the Off-Season

This is the part of the off-season that I hate the most.  At the end of November we’ve got the new additions to the 40-man roster.  In December there’s the always busy winter meetings, and the bulk of the free agent activity.  Then January rolls around and we get the final moves, and at this point the majority of the moves being made will be low key.

The worst part of this time of year is that we’re close enough to the season that we start analyzing the 2011 rosters, but far enough away from the season that we are pretty much debating the same things over and over.  And it gets tiring, especially with all of the news that comes out daily about the players.  This time of the year is filled with talk of players getting in shape, players working on bouncing back, and players working on improving on their strong season the year before.  There’s also the analysis of the new moves, such as the debate over how effective the Matt Diaz/Garrett Jones platoon will be, or whether Kevin Correia can bounce back from his down year in 2010.  Regardless of the opinions for the new additions, or the opinions on how effective the off-season changes will be, no one really knows until we see the results, and the results are still three months away.  I’d rather just fast forward to the season so we can see what worked, and what didn’t.

To recap some of the talk from the last week on a few of the individual players:

Tabata has bulked up this winter, but will it lead to an increase in power?

-There has been a lot of talk about Jose Tabata adding muscle this off-season.  Rob Biertempfel has a story on Tabata adding bulk, and Colin Dunlap says he looks strong as an ox.  Pat at WHYGAVS brings up how we hear this about a lot of players during this time of year, but thinks it could be true in Tabata’s case, considering his past work ethic in the off-season.  I’ve mentioned a lot in the past that I think Tabata has the second best power potential in the system, behind Pedro Alvarez.  That’s mostly from his frame, which always looked like it could support some muscle.  Tabata won’t realize his Manny Ramirez comparisons from when he was 16-17, but it would be a huge boost to the lineup if he could utilize this power and become a 20+ homer a year guy.  All of this assumes that his muscle will actually translate to an increase in his power, but if it does, he would be a great #3 hitter in the lineup.

-Colin Dunlap has an interview with Tim Alderson, who really took a fall in prospect value in 2010.  I wasn’t impressed at all with Alderson when I saw him in Altoona, and unless a major change is made, I don’t think he will make the majors.  It sounds like the Pirates are working on such a change.  He is still young enough that he can start off again in AA in 2011 while still being at a respectable age.  He turned 22 in November, which is the same age as most of the 2010 Altoona starters.  At this point he’s a bonus prospect.  If he works out, that’s great for the pitching depth, and if he doesn’t, they’re not really relying on him to begin with.  I definitely don’t see him reaching the top of the rotation potential he had as recently as the 2009 season, although he still has a chance of being a starter in the majors.

-Baseball America had a feature on Aaron Pribanic, who has really seen his stock rise this past year, with some second half success in Bradenton, and a good showing in the Arizona Fall League.  Pribanic is a sinker ball pitcher, relying heavily on the pitch, which gets him an extreme ground ball rate.  We have him ranked in the 25-30 range in the Pirates Prospects 2011 Prospect Guide.  My main concern with him is the lack of strikeouts.  He gets a lot of easy outs due to the high ground ball rate, although he hasn’t pitched much against upper level talent.  He also needs work on his off-speed pitches, which will be more essential in the upper levels.  How much he improves on those pitches, and improves his strikeout ratio, will determine his future.  Without the improvements, he might just be a better version of Michael Crotta.  He should make the jump to Altoona in 2011, which will give us a great look at how effective his sinker is, and a better feel for what type of pitcher he could eventually become.

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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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