Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Spring Training Tracker

This weekend I uploaded the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Spring Training Tracker to the site. This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve had the tracker on the site. Prior to Spring Training it will show all of the non-roster invitees who are invited to camp, along with the chances of each player making the Opening Day roster. Once Spring Training begins, the tracker will be updated any time a player is cut from camp, or whenever a player’s projection changes.

Currently I project four position battles in Spring Training. Those are first base, one bench spot, one bullpen spot, and one rotation spot.

The Pirates are expected to go with a platoon at first base, pairing someone with Gaby Sanchez. The two internal contenders for the job are Andrew Lambo and Chris McGuiness. It’s still possible that the Pirates could trade for a first baseman, but if they don’t make a move, I project the starter to be one of those two players. I have Sanchez listed on the bench, rather than first base, since the right-handed hitter in the platoon gets less playing time.

The bench looks to be almost set. Chris Stewart was acquired over the off-season to be the backup catcher. Clint Barmes was signed to be a backup middle infielder. Sanchez will take one bench spot as part of the first base platoon. I have Travis Snider and Jose Tabata projected to make the roster, since both players are out of options and being paid more than alternatives like Jaff Decker. Right now I have Snider listed as the right fielder, but I think they will get a split of playing time. That means one of the two will be on the bench. Overall that leaves one bench spot remaining. I’d say the front runner from the remaining group would be Josh Harrison. He makes a lot of sense for this team, as he hit left-handers well last year, plays second and third base, and can play outfield in an emergency.

The starting rotation has Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, and Charlie Morton in the first three spots. Edinson Volquez was signed for $5 M, so he will also get a rotation spot. That leaves one remaining spot. This spot is most likely going to Wandy Rodriguez, although I left it open due to questions about Rodriguez’s health. The Pirates insist that Rodriguez will be healthy, and if he is, I think he gets the spot. If Rodriguez isn’t healthy, then I think Jeff Locke becomes the front runner for the job. I also listed Brandon Cumpton, Phil Irwin, and Stolmy Pimentel as dark horse candidates for the job.

The bullpen is in a situation where there are more players than roster spots. The current guarantees would be Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, and Justin Wilson. Beyond those four, the Pirates have four players out of options. I project Vin Mazzaro and Jeanmar Gomez to make the roster, so that covers two of the four players who are out of options. Beyond those two, there’s Bryan Morris and Stolmy Pimentel fighting for the final spot. It’s possible that an injury could occur during Spring Training, which would create room for both players. If there isn’t an injury, then I could see a trade by the end of Spring Training. It would make more sense to deal Mazzaro or Gomez, since Morris and Pimentel have more team control and similar or better upsides. I have a lot of other players listed as contenders for the bullpen role, but I think that it will come down to the above eight players, barring injuries.

If the above is the case, then Andy Oliver would have to be designated for assignment, since he is out of options. If Oliver cleared waivers, the Pirates could outright him to Triple-A and keep him for another season. Oliver had a bad season in 2013, with horrible control. However, left-handers with his velocity always get chances — just look at how many teams took a chance on Mike Zagurski last year. It’s not a bad thing if the Pirates try to keep Oliver around, but they might have a problem trying to get him through waivers in the process.

Click here to go to the tracker and bookmark it as it will be updated frequently. Pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

Tim Williams

Author: 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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  • dr dng

    Perfect way to start a cold day.

    Thank you

  • G4

    Very cool. Wandy as a “yellow” I assume is only regarding injury. I can’t imagine if he’s healthy there is any chance of him not being in the rotation.

    It will be interesting with Harrison as well. I’d think he’s a lock this Spring to go north, but he may get squeezed in the numbers game.

  • buster09

    Tim,I don’t know if you have seen this yet,but it is really aimed at all those ” Yadie is the greatest ” fans. http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/1/5/5270518/russell-martin-and-defending-catcher-war-wins-above-replacement?ref=fangraphs

    • IC Bob

      I think the story said Yadier was the best catcher so I am not sure what your point is. Also any stats that would suggest Jason Kendell had the 3rd best catching performance in the last 11 years has to be flawed.

      • tom2125

        You obviously didn’t read the article. It said Martin had the best year defensively as a catcher. That’s his point. Looks like a skimmed it, not read it.

        • IC Bob

          Yes I saw that but Yady still was overall significantly better. Don,t get me wrong I loved what Martin brought to this team but he is not in the ballpark of Yady. Also the same article suggested Kendell had the third best year defensively in the last 11 years. I saw enough of him over the years to know he was average at best as a catcher. That in and of itself suggest the data is flawed. That said Martin is one heck of a good defensive catcher and I am glad he is a Bucco.

  • Travis Gysegem

    Don’t forget Josh Harrison’s role as a barn burning relief pitcher!

    • cabbo80

      Tim

      I know this may be a bit daunting but any chance of a snapshot of what you think may be the lineups, rotations and closers to start 2014 at Indy and Altoona? If you feel real energetic just roll on down to West Virginia. Would be interesting reading. Thanks.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        I won’t get a feel for that until I see who is playing where in Spring Training. And it can be difficult to project the top two levels because of the impact from moves in the majors. For example, last year Lambo was playing well and playing with the Triple-A team all Spring. Then he was moved down to the Double-A team at the end of ST after some cuts.

        I’ll probably have early projections around the start of minor league camp in early March.

        • cabbo80

          Totally understand. Thanks for the explanation.

  • buster09

    Sorry I didn’t comment on the Tracker Tim.My excuse is I am afraid I take it for granted we all can get our information from you so easily. Thanks for the great work.

  • https://profiles.google.com/111940857132209703522 Dino Michalopoulos

    Anyone know when the first open practice is? I would love to catch some spring training.

  • glassers

    Thanks Tim . think I will print this out and bring it with me . Sort of puts how hard it is to make a team in perspective !!

  • rburgh

    It seems like a worthwhile spring training strategy for the Bucs is to have Gomar and Mazzaro prep to be starters, then market them to teams in need of SP depth, rather than allow themselves to be constricted by their inability to option them out at the end of ST.