With the AAA regular season ending this afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates added eight players from Indianapolis today as part of their September callups. Shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, catcher Jason Jaramillo, and pitchers Brad Lincoln and Justin Thomas were recalled from the minors. Alex Presley, Brandon Moss, Brian Bass, and Steven Jackson all had their contracts purchased from AAA. To make room, the Pirates moved Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Clement to the 60-day disabled list, and designated Akinori Iwamura and Erik Kratz for assignment.
The call-ups will leave a few interesting scenarios to watch:
The Outfield Jam: There’s no question that Moss and Presley deserved a shot. John Bowker was also recently brought up from AAA, and is well deserving of an opportunity. The problem is that the Pirates have too many players and not enough playing time. Moss, Presley, and Bowker join Lastings Milledge, Delwyn Young, Ryan Doumit, and Garrett Jones for playing time at either first base or right field. Even if you platoon both positions, you only need four of these seven players. A platoon is already going to limit playing time without having extra players fighting for spots.
Shortstop: Argenis Diaz and Pedro Ciriaco are both similar players. Both are strong defensively, and weak offensively. Diaz is out of options next season, while Ciriaco has one option remaining. One of these two will likely be the backup shortstop next season. However, there won’t be space for Ciriaco to get playing time in AAA, as Chase d’Arnaud and Jordy Mercer are expected to move from AA to AAA next year. I’m predicting Ciriaco wins the backup job, leaving Diaz on the outs after the season.
Injured and Out: Jeff Clement was moved to the 60-day disabled list, most likely because he wouldn’t have returned anyways this season and the Pirates can use his spot to get a look at other guys. However, Clement is out of options, hasn’t hit very well this year, and is caught in the roster jam along with the players mentioned above. That means that this injury by Clement could put him out of the picture for the roster next season. Steve Pearce is also out of options, and could be in the same boat.
Relief Pitching: The Pirates partially blew up their bullpen at the trade deadline, dealing away Octavio Dotel, Javier Lopez, and D.J. Carrasco, and releasing Brendan Donnelly. The only two spots which seem to be locked down going in to next season are the spots owned by Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek. Chris Resop has been impressive in his time with the Pirates, and could be moving towards having a 2011 roster spot locked down. That leaves four spots for nine relievers currently in the bullpen. A lot of the relievers in the pen right now are candidates to be released after the season, although there’s a few who could make the 2011 team, like Joe Martinez and Daniel McCutchen. The final month of the 2010 season should help decide which relievers can be part of the future.
Brad Lincoln: Lincoln will pitch in relief in September, although a strong performance could put him in line for a rotation spot next year out of Spring Training. Pretty much the entire rotation seems to be fighting for a spot next year, so Lincoln has every opportunity to make this happen.