First Pitch: No Need For Concern About the Pirates’ Future at First Base

The results of the Byung-ho Park bidding were revealed today, with the Minnesota Twins announced as the team that won the rights to negotiate with Park. Of course, this also means that the Pirates weren’t the winning team, which means they won’t have an All-Korean corner infield alignment next year, pairing Park with Jung-ho Kang.

What this ultimately means for the Pirates is that they will have to settle for turning their long-term first base position over to one of the top prospects in the game. Josh Bell was the first baseman of the future for the Pirates heading into the off-season, and nothing has changed after the Twins won the rights to Park.

I wrote about Park a few weeks ago, and the situation wasn’t clear-cut. There was a lot of risk involved in signing Park with Bell in the fold. The reward would obviously be an excess in talent at first base if Park worked out and Bell reached his potential in the majors. But it could have also worked out for the worse, with the Pirates wasting a lot of money on a guy who could only play first base for them, when they had a first baseman who was close to the majors.

Regardless of how Park works out, I’m a believer in Bell’s future. I think he’s going to be a great hitter from the left side, with some easy power that will only improve going forward. I don’t think he’ll get the same power from the right side, but he could get on base and hit for average, avoiding a platoon situation. He might not be the best defensive first baseman, but I think he’ll hit enough to make up for the defense.

The only problem with Park is that the Pirates will need a short-term option at first base until Bell arrives. While I love the upside for Bell, he still has things to work on. His defense right now is very poor, and would make him one of the worst defensive first basemen in the league, on par with Pedro Alvarez. He might improve on this going forward, but a lot of the improvements will have to take place in the majors. Even before that happens, he’ll have to improve to the point where it would make sense to put him in the majors.

He improved on his power at the end of the year with a new leg kick in Indianapolis, and if that holds up, his bat won’t be far away. He will need further changes to improve his approach from the right side, but his hands and pure hitting skills are so good that the right adjustment could lead to instant results, similar to what happened with his approach from the left side.

Bell won’t be ready until mid-season, and at mid-season he’s still going to need some development that will take place in the majors. So how can the Pirates fill first base in the short-term?

One option would be sticking with Pedro Alvarez and Michael Morse. I like the Morse side of that equation. He doesn’t have good defense, but it’s better than Alvarez’s defense. He also has a lot of raw power that didn’t show up in games last year, but definitely didn’t disappear, as I saw many times in batting practice over the final two months.

Alvarez was good offensively, but his defense was so bad that he was a replacement level player. I think he could be upgraded over in the short-term, and for a cheaper price. Someone like Justin Morneau would cost the same, or less than Alvarez, while providing better overall value, and much better defense.

The Pirates are good in the long-term at first base with Bell in the system. In the short-term, they’re going to need an answer, but I don’t think that answer will be difficult to find. Overall, Park would have been a nice luxury for the team, but he wasn’t absolutely necessary to sign.

**AFL Live: Big Nights For Meadows and McGuire, Dickson Throws a Shutout Inning. Tonight’s AFL live recap. I’ve been getting interviews while I’ve been down here, and will start rolling out some analysis articles, starting with a great look at Trevor Williams tomorrow.

**Pirates Claim RHP Guido Knudson Off Waivers From the Tigers. I’m guessing that he will go back on waivers later in the off-season, with hopes of clearing and going to Triple-A.

**Pirates Re-Sign Rinku Singh and Several Player/Coaches. Not a big story from a prospect perspective, but another prospect with an interesting background remains in the system.

**Pirates Promote Two Scouts to Special Assistants to the General Manager. The replacements for Jim Benedict and Marc DelPiano, plus two scouts promoted from the amateur side to the professional side.

**Orlando Castro Among Minor League Players Released by Pirates. A few players were announced as released today. Here is the breakdown of those guys.

**Pirates’ Minor League Free Agent List Includes Dodson, Inman and Lincoln. Speaking of which, here are the minor league free agents from the weekend, along with some other minor moves.

**Pirates Reportedly Not the Winning Bidder For Byung-ho Park. The Pirates didn’t get Park.

**Winter Leagues: Good Reports Out of Mexico Regarding Carlos Munoz. A first baseman who had a breakout year in the lower levels is not only putting up good numbers in Mexico, but getting good reports.

**Austin Meadows With a Big Home Run in the AFL Fall Stars Game. From this weekend, the recap of the Fall Stars game, where Meadows homered.

**2015 Rotation Recap: Injuries Pushed the Arrival of the Prospects Back a Year. From the weekend, a recap of the 2015 rotation and a look ahead to the future.

  • Morse doesn’t need a platoon partner if you like him- just let him play- Either you Trust Morse and you dump Pedro for a box of Mallow Cups (altoona fans pay attention) or you don’t trust Morse and you keep Pedro around and tender him, hoping that his defense at first base is similar to his 3rd base defense of 2013. What you don’t do, is waste more money on a player whom we won’t need for more than half a season, whom will likely not be as good as Morse is likely to be.

  • I written it before but I really am tired of reading Pirate prospects “not ready, yet, for MLB.”
    Nobody down there hist for power and we have 10-TJ ravaged arms in the system.

    And then we get “rave stories” about the Pirate minors??

    Hard to match the reality with the hype.

    My radical solution is to try and sign Chris Davis, and trade, Melancon, Walker, Alvarez, and Cutch for as many decent arms and bats as they will bring (moving Marte to Center) and hope the PBC young kids discover some productive skills.

    (Oh and cut Morton and Locke, so they don’t clutter the roster.)

  • Mark Trumbo make any sense as a trade target for the Pirates?

    He’s right handed and not as good as his best years in LA but he’s a plus DR’S 1B and has a positive UZR and UZR/150 at 1B…

  • Why is Pedro expected to get so much in arbitration when he’s a 0 above replacement?

  • Non tender Pedro chalk it up to a loss, go with Morse and Sean Rodriguez til Bell is ready mid June. Be great if Bell, Tailon, Glasnow and Duaz al make impacts this year for the buccos. Chris Stewart needs to go also

  • The real problem is who hits clean up the next two years. How long has it been since the Pirates had a capable clean up hitter?

    • I think Kang is your non-traditional #4 hitter. I just dont think we have enough power in the lineup…but we also arent good enough defensively and dont utilize our speed enough.

  • This absolutely burns me up. Morse isn’t that cheap either. What do you seriously expect from Morse? 240 Avg, I don’t expect many HRs, I don’t expect him to stay healthy, Reminds me of Corey Hart. Going with Morse is a disaster waiting to happen.
    Whats wrong in going with Pedro? You know exactly what you will get. A very productive and powerful bat that can only get better defensively. I fail to see how Morse is more productive infact I see him as less productive. Morse will be 34 Pedro is only 28.
    Why are we running Pedro out? Cause WAR says we can? I don’t think so

    • Did you miss the part where I said I’d go with Morneau over Pedro?

      • I hope Morneau retires.

        Images of a severely crippled, homeless and futureless Mike Webster asking his boy to zap him with a taser or a cattle prod (Webster believed it would give him the relief he craved) come to my mind whenever I consider players ignoring concussion injuries.

      • Morneau I hope isn’t even on the radar. His health & age are horrible risks. His #’s inflated by Coors field & he was horrible in Pittsburgh when he was here. He played every day, batted 4th in the lineup & still couldn’t produce more rbi’s then Cole who was in the lineup every 5 days.

      • I wasn’t really responding to you mainly the ones who were for Morse.
        As far as Morneau goes. Im not sure that’s a good option either better than Morse though. Injury issues and age are big reasons why. We had him and I wasn’t that impressed. I just don’t think any of these guys are better than a 28 year old power hitter in Pedro.

    • Morse is a sunk cost. So, basically it’s free to keep him.

  • With an uncertain first base situation since at least LaRoche, the Pirates have won 94, 88, and 98 games the past three seasons. A 57.6 % winning rate. Panic should set in, right ?

    • Somehow the Pirates won at that high rate even though the team had scary players like Alvarez, Locke and Morton play key roles.

      Naturally, the panic-stricken among us are sensible and the calmer sort are both complacent and insane.

      • There isn’t any middle ground?

        It’s not possible to believe that the Pirates will once again be a strong contender while having the audacity to *gasp* want them to improve a long-neglected position? One that just so happens to be an obvious need on an otherwise solid lineup?

        • THIS! Exactly THIS.

          It is beyond idiotic to say “we have a position that we have smoked sh*t on a stick” but we managed to win 98 games in spite of that…so let’s ignore it and we will do the same thing again.

          Looking at your team and seeing a continued area of weakness and not attempting to fix it either means you’re an idiot or incompetent.

    • I have to agree with NMR on this one. Just because you have succeeded despite an obvious hole at 1B doesn’t mean you don’t try to plug it.

      In fact, when looking to improve, the first thing you should look at is what is your biggest weakness.

      • And I agree with all of those…SS, 1B, and the bench bats. I think RF will improve on its own with Polanco. But look at how truly bad 1B is. I mean, my god.

        • The positions to improve that will most impact the ability to win the division are the 4th and 5th starter positions, after signing Happ at #3. Spend money there first, before spending more money on First.

          • Oh, I am a big proponent of improving our pitching…although I think only so much can be done about that whereas the 1B position could have seen greater improvement (with Park).

            • Park would have been an improvement over Pedro, but would have diverted too much cash that needs to be allocated to pitching. And what I mean by upgrading is adding pitchers with a 2 or better rating so that Happ is the 5, not merely a marginal increase in no 4 or 5 performance. To do that will require a lot of cash in 2016, until Taillon, Kingham, etc are ready in 2017.

          • Actually, I am fine with that too. It is a risk going into the year with Morse as plan A (I assume they will also bring in a backup plan), but if it enables them to assemble a dominant rotation, then I accept the trade-off.

  • Walker moving to first would sure help and give another option. Murphy from the Mets is being considered a first baseman by some teams so why wouldn’t Walker at least be open to the move. I would hope he is taking some reps at first between now and Spring Train

    • Gives an option at 1B, takes away any good option at 2B for the first month. Walker (and Murphy) will both be average (possibly slightly below) on offense at 1B. Neither is really a good option at 1B. For PGH, it’d mean Walker at 1B and Hanson at 2B, with Harrison at 3B until Kang is back.

      Im not totally low on Hanson, but i dont expect him to be great right away. So that’d give us at least 2 less than ideal hitters up the middle, and Harrison is more of a usable hitter than a sure thing to be great. Seems like that’d put a strain on the top of the order and pitching staff early on to carry this team.

      • I don’t think you make Walker a full time 1B, by any means, but I’m really failing to see how getting him comfortable there as a backup to Morse and Bell isn’t a good idea.

        They simply cannot go into Opening Day with one guy on the roster who can play first base; especially one with a history as sketchy as Morse. They just can’t.

        Seems to me that finding an additional utility guy to man 2B with Hanson/Harrison while moving Walker over to 1B when needed would probably be a better/more efficient use of roster space than a backup 1B alone, a la Travis Ishikawa.

        • Id actually prefer getting a guy able to man 3B for a short period, move Harrison to 2B, let Walker and Morse split time at 1B, and adjust when Kang arrives.

          You pick up a Juan Uribe type and he holds 3B for 1-2 months, Harrison at 2B (with Hanson whenever he arrives) and it doesnt impact Kang as Uribe works as a bench option. Gives positional depth, rest for any guy who needs it, and you have decent flexibility with guys (Harrison at 2-3 spots, Walker at 2 spots, Uribe could fake it at 2B if needed).

          • I like the idea of Uribe/Kelly Johnson as utility players with decent bats. Move Walker to 1B to be the left-handed 1B in the platoon (giving Morse some RH at bats to lessen the load on Walker).

            • I really dont care for Johnson, but it wouldnt be terrible.

              I just dont actually see Johnson as a decent bat. 2010 was his last legit offensive year, with last year being good not great. Id take 100-105 wRC+ at 3B, but seems like Uribe offers more upside even with his age.

          • question is- how much does uribe cost

            • He made 6.5 i think last year, but his production took a hit and he’s a year older. I’d throw 5 million at him, that would be fine particularly if they go with a young (and cheap) guy like Gift at backup SS.

        • “They simply cannot go into Opening Day with one guy on the roster who can play first base; especially one with a history as sketchy as Morse. They just can’t.”

          Actually, they can.

          Something impossible: 2 + 2 = 5
          Something possible: Pirates resign Pedro or run Morse out to 1B every game until Bell passes the Super Two threshold.

          Something impossible can’t happen. Something possible can.

          Their likely choice: Resign Alvarez and use a Alvarez-Morse platoon until they believe Bell is ready to take over 1B.

          • Thanks for agreeing with my point?

            • I pointed out the mistake you made when you claimed the Pirates can’t play Morse every day. They can, but likely won’t. Your mistake was due to the hyperbole you used to emphasize the fact that Morse makes for an undesirable 1B option if he’s the primary player at the position.

              Can’t and shouldn’t are not identical in meaning.

              • No, Steve, my comment was stating that the Pirates need *somebody* there, and I believe that Neil Walker gives them that *somebody* better than any of these other marginal options being discussed.

                Reading comprehension’d.

                • I didn’t respond to your whole article. I only responded to your stating can’t when shouldn’t was called for by the way the freaking universe works.

                  • Except that’s not how English works, Steve.

                    You literally just defined taking something out of context. Congrats!

                    • I didn’t take your overall point out of context. I didn’t criticize your overall point. I criticized one part of your argument because it was utter BS.

                    • Steve, I see you’re really struggling with this one.

                      Lemme Google it for you: “without the surrounding words or circumstances and so not fully understandable.”

                      Criticizing one part of an argument that depends on another part is *exactly* how taking something out of context is defined. You’re welcome.

                    • I’m not struggling with your point, argument, etc. Criticizing one part of an argument does not entail taking that part out of context. One can always agree with a conclusion of an argument while criticizing the logical form of an argument, the factual basis of the premises, the rhetorical methods used to improperly or illicitly ‘prove’ a point.

                      You don’t earn a pass for you BS when it’s embedded in an argument that has a true or, better, credible conclusion.

                    • Thanks for incorrectly explaining English to everyone.


                    • Boy, that video makes your point for you….

                      NMR — a fountain of rational thought, the best known example of intellectual virtue we have encountered.

                    • I am quite certain that snarky comments go both ways…you’re not exempt from that. There is also no need for it. I can respect both of your thoughts and opinions without actually having to know whose dick is bigger…so how about we quit measuring?

                    • I find it odd that you have told only me this. This fact diminishes your point, by suggesting bias.

                    • Is there some way to respond to multiple posts at the same time that I have yet to figure out? Because I don’t think so…

                    • Write two posts; write one post and explicitly address it to both.
                      And you did include comments directed specifically to me.

                    • Ok…I direct my above comment to both. Done.

                    • Thanks.

                • I agree about Neil. But I wonder what we would think about Mike Napoli…he hit in the second half…

        • Or they keep Pedro for the first three months of the season.

        • whispers *please dont’ re-sign cooler punch*

    • Huntingdon has already been on the record saying they won’t ask Walker to attempt a new position going into his contract year, so give that pipe dream up.

      • They won’t ask, but what if Walker offers? I can’t see how expanding his positions can hurt him in free agency or in staying with the Pirates beyond 2016. Murphy is a good example to follow. He plays multiple positions and has multiple teams looking at him with different needs.

        • No team will see it as Walker expanding spots, he’ll go into FA as a 1Bmen. Im sure plenty of teams will already realize this, but him at least having the leverage of saying “i play 2B and feel i can stay there” at the start of negotiations helps his value.

          Because he’ll get paid far less as a 1B men with his hitting profile. I dont think Neil is dumb enough to throw away money that way. He’d do it if they asked, but he wont offer it up.

          • Is that really true, though?

            Isn’t Daniel Murphy, who’s a lesser hitter and almost exactly as bad of a defender, currently being marketed *by his own agent* as a guy who could play 1B, even though his main or more valuable position is 2B?

            I agree with you in principal, but it seems that in reality there’s always going to be a finite number of bats available, and the more positions you can hold to get that bat in the lineup means more teams out there that can use your services. More teams, better market.

            • I think it is a varying degree thing. I just think him getting as many at bats at 2B as possible helps him. He’d say “yeah, i could move to 1B if you need me to” whether he’s played 1B or not.

              I think any team that is going to sign him will have to pay him more than his actual value as a pure 1Bmen unless he plays the majority of his time at 1B this season. If the team went to him and tried to find a way to get him reps at 1B but mostly reps at 2B, i can see him thinking about it.

              I dont believe he’ll approach them about it.

              • I don’t, either, but I’d love to see him do it. Still a sucker for the selfless, team-first player types.

            • I dont know whether Murph is really all that much of a “lesser” hitter…Murph is a career 109 wRC player with a career .327 wOBA and a .135 ISO, and a triple-slash of .288/.331/.424. Walker? Walker has a 114 wRC with a .336 wOBA and a .159 ISO with a triple slash of .272/.338/.429. Certainly Walker is better…marginally…then again this really doesn’t impact your argument too much.

  • The 2 main factors we don’t know are whether or not Bell will tap into his power and his defense at 1B. What we do know is that he has historically walked more than K’d, he hits a lot of doubles and triples, and he hits for high average. We’ve seen some pretty decent success with prospects the past few years with Polanco not living up to the hype as of yet. Cutch & Marte are legit. I’d say Walker & J-Hay have exceeded expectations. Alvarez has been a disappointment and Mercer is what he is. I’m optimistic that Bell can be a solid contributor with the possibility of developing into more.

  • Telling a fanbase that’s sat through Garrett Jones, Gaby Sanchez, Justin Morneau, Ike Davis, Travis Ishikawa and Pedro Alvarez to calm down, it’s cool, Mike Morse is here seems awful rich to this observer. This is the guy, after all, that couldn’t get starts over the aforementioned Alvarez *and* a 37 yo Aramis Ramirez weeks from retirement picking up a position he hasn’t played in two decades.

    Mike Morse *may* be both healthy and productive, sure. But I find it impossible to fault anyone who isn’t exactly comfortable betting on that. They shouldn’t be.

    Josh Bell absolutely may be the first baseman of the future, and if we’re talking about 2018 I’d agree. Relax! But 2016 and 2017 are going to happen first, and it’s going to take a ton of improvement for Josh Bell to be any more than a replacement level first baseman.

    • I concur. I’m not understanding how there is ‘no need for concern’. The Pirates have one long-term plan for first base. If he pans out, let’s hope he stays healthy…because, after the unproven guy poorly playing a new position, the cupboard is bare.

      • We can always trade for one of a dozen mediocre players like we always have if need be- Think about it and tell me the last time we had an all-star first baseman- this team hasn’t thought that position is important for over 25 years. The last time we even tried was when we traded for LaRoche, and I couldn’t stand that guy

        • You don’t win 98 games without an element of luck.

          The Pirates had plenty of that this year. Yes, they were a good team, but lucky…as well.

          Sooner or later, luck tends to run out…and what has to be depended upon after that is talent. Going with a plan of…’oh, we’ll figure it out with patchwork until the guy from AAA arrives to stabilize the position’ is basically saying…’yeah, we’re banking that our luck holds out.’

          True, the Pirates haven’t had a solid first baseman in a generation…and, for the vast majority of that, they’ve been losers.

          I’m not advocating signing Chris Davis, but blindly hoping Morse is going to do the job until someone who’s never taken a swing in the majors comes along is just a tad more than damned risky.

          • I’ll give you that, but it’s also how small market teams compete. Quite honestly, if you don’t like it, become a Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles fan. There is noone signficantly better than Morse out there at a reasonable price, nor is there a better prospect we can trade for at first base than Bell. It is what it is.

    • Just because they didn’t bring in Byung-Ho doesn’t mean they won’t do anything at all. I’m still holding out hope they sign a reasonable stop gap….doesn’t have to be a world beater, but somebody who can at the very least play some good defense with a little bit of pop in the bat.

    • Dude needs to take his lumps in the majors though. We won’t know unless we give him a chance and he has the talent to be given one.

      • He absolutely does.

        But if Gregory Polanco has taught us anything it should be that you better have someone competent behind these kids. This isn’t 2010 anymore. Winning baseball games is now the expectation.

      • FWIW, I’d prefer they ease him in with a split IF/OF roll. Kid is clearly more comfortable in the outfield, and I wouldn’t discount the mental challenge behind booting balls at 1B while also trying to adjust to big league pitching for the first time. Hell of a lot of pressure and expectation to put on a kid.

        Get him used to the speed of the game in the infield while also adding at bats in his more comfortable, and most likely lest costly, outfield position.

        • Part of me would’ve been curious to see the Bucs acquire a 1B, trade Polanco and put Bell in RF when he’s ready.

        • I think with the weight he put on, that they have no interest in putting him in at OF

    • 1. The Pirates haven’t exactly struggled in the standings with those first basemen.
      2. Why are you acting like I said Michael Morse is the lone answer, and the everyday starter at first? You clearly saw my comment about replacing Alvarez with Morneau, based on another comment you made in this article.

      • re:1. I cannot possibly imagine a worse attitude for the leader of a successful organization to take. You yourself would never say “Our Major League coverage sucks and has always sucked but we’re still getting subscribers, so f*ck it!”. I sure as hell hope Huntington doesn’t even let that awful logic creep into his mind. You should *always* be looking to improve your club, and 1B is the most obvious position imaginable.

        re:2. I didn’t include Morneau because I felt my comment was critical enough already. Beyond me why you’d want to spend that kind of money on such a player that projects to be no better than Alvarez *before* factoring his long and unfortunate history with concussions.

        Huntington has wasted tens of millions of dollars on marginal veteran platoon first base options. I’d rather spend nothing and funnel that money into areas where they’ve actually been successful spending (or target one guy with actual upside) than continue this failed process.

        • Well, I wouldn’t say that because I think our MLB coverage is well above replacement level.

          So go for another option over Alvarez. The point is, I never said it was just Morse.

          • I thought the point was that there’s no need to be concerned about first base?

            I can’t imagine how anyone can be comfortable flippantly assuming a short term answer won’t be “difficult to find” when the club has a long, futile list of guys that were supposed to do that and failed.

            Hey, I imagine the Pirates are due.

            • And how did it turn out for them when those options did fail?

              • Again, *you* may be comfortable with futility. *You* may be content once again failing to upgrade a position. But good luck convincing others.

                I think the Pirates will once again be a strong contender, but it very likely will once again be *in spite* of what happens at 1B. That, to me, does not make me more comfortable with the position. Two completely separate thoughts.

                • NMR- I couldn’t agree more. If you want to do more than lose wild card games, instead of insisting that playoffs are random and oh well- maybe upgrading the areas that you have the most room to upgrade would be the way to go. I don’t see how this is groundbreaking analysis to anyone. Improve your weaknesses.

                  This means: 1) rearrange your outfielders to get Cutch the hell out of center field 2) Get a better first baseman or hire Sean Casey to teach Pedro and Bell how to play first base 3) Teach your damn pitchers to hold runners on base and fine them if they don’t 4) Teach your hitters whom can’t hit 10 HR a year how to bunt- Force every pitcher to do nothing BUT bunt the entire pre season in every at bat no matter what, do not use DH in spring training at all. 5) Hire Davey Lopes, Vince Coleman, or Tony Womack to come in and teach your fast runners how to read pitchers and steal bases 6) Likewise have someone similar teach these kids how to RUN BASES 7) Look at upgrades over Mercer if you don’t feel his offense will improve to be more like it was in the 2nd half of 2014

              • This attitude is lunacy. Because they did well in past with subpar production at 1b we should assume things should “turn out” same way next year if the next option fails? Our infield is not looking real strong until,at least June. Jordys defense is good but his bat continues to decline- especially against righties. Jhay projects around 2.4 war- ok not great production at 3b until kang hopefully returns. Walkers range ain’t getting any better and I think 2.5 is about the most we can expect from him.

                And if we are dealing mm(and even if we aren’t) we won’t be getting 13 wpa from the bullpen next year.

                • It seems we are going to disagree a lot on the overall state of the team. And that really shapes how important you think it is to find a big upgrade at first base.

                  • What do you think one of biggest differences in wins between 2014 and 2015 was?

                  • So where do we need to find an upgrade? Are you suggesting that our best course of action is to hope on the improvement of prospects/current young players and not seek external improvements despite the fact that across the board we have done better at professional acquisitions/development than we have at seeing our own minor leaguers transition to successful major leaguers. Look at our bullpen, our starting pitching, and our 3B/C as examples.

                    I will find it a little worrisome if the team doesnt attempt to upgrade at the major league level and instead just hopes only on amateur development/youth improvements.

              • Then again all the eggs are in the Josh Bell basket, quite honestly.

    • I think this is the point. Bell might hit but even if you project him to be a high average/OBP player right away, the defensive deficiencies and the lack of power will likely mean you dont get much more than replacement level production from 1B.

      • Did you miss the memo on Bell playing better on the defense side of the game???? He will field rings around Pedro and anyone else at that position last year. It is only about time till Bell is up and God I hope he plays everyday and not on a platoon bases.
        After the Pirates got rid of J. Morneau he landed in K. C. [I think] and his 1st. year he was fighting for a batting title near the end of season. He was not good enough for the Pirates and was only a platoon player here.

        • If you can find a guy who can hit LHP’s better than Bell, I don’t see why a platoon would be a bad thing.

          • Because then he will likely never get better against lefties. I think platooning young players is what creates them just getting worse and worse as they get older. As a lefty hitter, I can tell you the biggest reason wny I struggled against lefties was because you don’t see them that often. Take someone like Garrett Jones- start him 10 straight times against decent but not Cy young quality lefties, don’t even let him see a righty- ten lefties, ten straight games- and watch how he’d improve. You’d see the same improvement on some level with Pedro as well. It’s all about adjustments and familiarity. Throw Chapman against me 5 straight games. that 103 MPH fastball will start to get slower and slower the more you see it. This is how hitting works. – not really- I’m never catching up to a 103 MPH fastball- EVER, but you understand what i mean

        • You are smoking crack. Quite honestly that whole comment is frought with errors and silly statements.

    • They weren’t going to sit Ramirez on the bench NMR, you and I both know that. Had nothing to do with which player was more likely to succeed with Hurdle putting together a lineup

  • Park = 25HR, 850 OPS – middle of the pack defensively
    Bell = 8 HR, 700 OPS – bottom 10% of defensive first basemen called up mid July

    I just don’t understand how you can’t want plus defenders behind a group of young pitchers like Cole, Tailon, Kingham, and Glasnow who pitch to contact and try for ground balls rather than missed bats.

  • As a follow up, I’m not opposed to keeping pedro another year but have doubts FO wants to pay him 8m next season. iF the plan is to go with morse as primary 1b until bell is “ready” would constitute horrible planning as far as I’m concerned.

  • You do realize morse is projected at 707 ops and below replacement by steamer? So that is our option until June, maybe July? And then we turn it over to bell who still has considerable holes in his game defensively? Even best case that bell hits the ground running that is leaving a large projected hole in the lineup at 1b for 60-80 games with morse. I fail to see how anyone sees that as a good plan.

    • I agree that is a fairly suspect plan for the 2015 season. Winning the bid for Park would be less suspect, more options are always better, though Park does come with his own uncertainty.

      Given the lack of options for improvements at 1B, the best plan may be to invest the resources elsewhere, like the rotation.

      • Yes. Worst option for me would be investing basically the same amount they’d have to pay Alvarez in a 35 yo with a severe history of concussions trying to come back from another one.

        Cross your fingers with Morse, bring in a Rule 5 or pre-arb guy for depth, and invest the money saved into the rotation.

        • I totally agree. I’d add that Morneau is currently projected for only .743 OPS and 0.6 WAR, and he never really seemed to want to be in Pittsburgh. Maybe it was shock from being traded, but he always called the team “they” and not “we”, which in my book is a sign he wasn’t committed.

    • It’s only an assumption Morse will be primary 1B going into next season. It’s only Nov 10th. Let the off-season play out before complaint about opening day lineup.

      • Seems you have more of an issue with the article than John’s comment…

        • I have an issue w those who claim to know what the Pirates opening day lineup will be 5 months early, and then complain about said lineup.

    • Morse was mentioned in one paragraph in this article. The very next paragraph suggested replacing Alvarez with Morneau. So the option would be Morneau/Morse.

    • I truthfully could give two pile of feces for what steamer thinks morse’s OPS is going to be, I don’t think they have a crystal ball John. His lifetime splits are far far better than that, and he hit better than that with us as well

    • Pull up Morse’s stats…..take a look at them- This is not exactly Corey hart we are talking about here man, he isn’t washed up

  • I am not as sanguine about Bell becoming an average defensive first baseman. With Morse also below average I think a real problem exist regarding our defense. PBC clearly needs to find an upgrade at first-base. Bell needs to improve.

  • Pirates have made a huge investment in Bell. He is on the doorstep of making it to the majors. His bat from the left side, where he will hit from 75% of the time, promises to be excellent. I don’t really understand the reasoning behind bidding for Park.

    As Tim said, Pirates are good at 1B.

    • We do not know whether the Pirates bid for Park or, if they did, the dollar amount of their bid. They may have made a “we’re here too” bid because they wanted to let the KBO know that they haven’t abandoned the market. We just don’t know.

      • There is one reason to bid and that is to try to win the bid. The “other reasons” stuff is pure fantasy.

        • Why would they be fantasy? The team makes a bid which reflects its budget and expectations about the player. The team believes the market will generate a higher value than its bid. It submits the bid anyway.

          There is nothing miraculous about that scenario.

  • Has Morneau recovered? Reoccurring concussion issues cannot be good. Any rumors about Pedro? Bell and all other Pirate Prospects are never ready until mid-season!

  • Good article. Thanks! The real question is will they trade Alvarez or non tender him? I doubt they will keep him and the approximate 8.1 million from arbitration for next year. Hey if Huntington can trade Tabata for Morse, trading Alvarez might happen.