Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates set their Opening Day Roster. Not many of the moves were a surprise, especially after Andrew Lambo was optioned to Triple-A, opening the first base job for Travis Ishikawa. I’ve written five season preview articles, taking a look at every position group on the team based off that Opening Day roster. Here are those previews.
The biggest news this week was when the Pirates and Starling Marte agreed to a six-year deal. The move pays Marte $31 M during those six years, along with two option years that could make the deal an eight year, $55 M contract. After the move was announced, I talked about how the Pirates could get a huge value from Marte’s extension.
I also talked about why Gregory Polanco should be the next extension candidate.
**On Opening Day, Barry Bonds and Jim Leyland Will Present Andrew McCutchen and Clint Hurdle With Awards. I hope this doesn’t end up with Bonds getting booed. He becomes the villain because he left Pittsburgh, or because he did steroids. I don’t really punish him much for the steroid aspect, since a ton of people were doing steroids at the time, and MLB didn’t really care to do much about it. In fact, I find the whole crusade against steroids now to be ridiculous. Even with the new “harsher” suspensions that were passed today, there’s still a benefit to doing steroids: you get to keep all of the money you previously earned, and you still get big contract offers after you’re caught and suspended.
The reality here is that it is fitting to have Bonds presenting the award to McCutchen. Prior to McCutchen, the Pirates didn’t have a star player for a long time, and the last guy they had was Bonds. I don’t think Bonds needs to be celebrated. I just think all of the focus should be on the moment where two former Pirates who won MVP awards (Bonds and Dick Groat) present a current Pirate with his MVP award.
**Pirates Possibly Looking At Didi Gregorius. This rumor came out earlier in the week, although it doesn’t look like anything will come of it.
The Pirates have been dealing with a lot of injuries to their top prospects. I talked about this last week, but there were a few updates since then. One update is that Jameson Taillon will get a second opinion on his elbow on Monday. I hope to have a future update on how that second opinion went. I will say that the concerns about Tommy John surgery seem to be unfounded. For one, Taillon said the first MRI showed the ligament was strong. A second opinion is standard, and it shouldn’t be assumed that this is because the first opinion could be wrong. Also, the usual warning sign for Tommy John is forearm pain, not elbow discomfort.
**Altoona Curve Release Opening Day Roster. In this we mention that Stetson Allie will begin the season in extended Spring Training, due to the time he missed with his oblique injury.
**Pirates Trade For Minor League Outfielder Keon Broxton. I originally thought he’d be a depth guy, but after looking at the Altoona roster, I could see him getting some starts.
**Wei-Chung Wang makes the Brewers’ Opening Day roster. I think he’ll be back at some point this year. It could be sooner, rather than later, as the Brewers will have Tom Gorzelanny returning this month, giving them four left-handers in the bullpen.
The big event this week concerning the 2014 draft, was the National High School Invitational. It’s a four-day tournament between 16 of the best teams in the country and it features many of the top players in this year’s draft class. For scouts, it’s a chance to see the best, going up against the best and watch how these players perform in the spotlight. When the next mock drafts come out, expect some moves to be made based on the performances of these players in the NHSI.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Touki Toussaint Dominates In NHSI Start A recap of the entire first day of the NHSI, including a first-hand look at Toussaint
**Draft Prospect Watch: Wrapping Up the National HS Invitational Some of the best prep hitters in the country did nothing to help their draft stock
**Draft Prospect Watch: Brown Throws Eight Scoreless, Homers Twice The Pirates draft Aaron Brown in 2011 and couldn’t sign him. Now, he is at Pepperdine and playing a strong center field, hitting well and pitching like a future major league starter
**Draft Prospect Watch: Bradley Zimmer Hits Sixth Homer Bradley Zimmer is showing why some scouts and experts are putting him at the top of the college hitters list in this draft class.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Luke Weaver Throws One-Hitter Many of the top college names took the mound on Friday night and impressed, especially Luke Weaver and A.J. Reed, who outdueled Tyler Beede, a possible first overall pick this year.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Sean Newcomb Throws Seven No-Hit Innings Newcomb is emerging as a top arm in this draft and he could be throwing himself into the top half of the first round after being rated as a late first round pick by many early on in the season.