The Pirates Don’t Have Many Position Battles Heading Into Spring Training

Spring Training is less than two weeks away, and while it’s possible that the Pirates could still bring in additional help, the odds seem low. By this point last year, they were done adding to their team. Looking at the roster this year, it’s hard to see them adding more than bench or bullpen depth, since the roster looks pretty set. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t add more. I’ve written that having Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation is a problem, and they should look for an upgrade. But the Pirates seem to be set with him as their fifth starter.

Today I put together the 2016 Spring Training tracker, offering predictions for all 60 players who are currently invited to camp. The predictions are color coded, giving the odds of making the team. As you can see on the tracker, a lot of the positions are set, with just a few roster spots available. One of those spots is the third base position, and is largely dependent on whether Jung-ho Kang can be healthy by Opening Day. Right now it’s too early to say he will be healthy, so I’ve got him missing the start of the season and third base up in the air. However, this is really just a short-term issue, as he should be back by mid-April, so this is not a long-term position battle.

If Kang is out, I’ve got Josh Harrison at third base, with Alen Hanson and Cole Figueroa competing for the starting second base job at the start of the year. I would include Jason Rogers as a starting option at third, but I’m not going to go there with a prediction yet until the Pirates indicate they’d make such a bold move (bold because of the lack of defense). Here are the other position battles:

The Bench

There are two open bench spots, with the backup catcher spot (Chris Stewart), a utility spot (Sean Rodriguez), and Michael Morse taking up the first three spots. To me, the bench makeup will be the most interesting thing about Spring Training, with the Pirates having the ability to go a few different directions with their decisions.

The right-handed side of the first base platoon will influence one of the directions. I’ve got Michael Morse making the roster due to his salary, with Jason Rogers competing for a spot. The Pirates could opt to keep both and go for a lot of offense off the bench, sacrificing defense in the process. This might not be a huge sacrifice, since they have Sean Rodriguez as a utility guy capable of playing all over the field, and only having defensive value. If they kept another strong defender, like Pedro Florimon, it would make it even easier to carry two right-handed, bat-first (bat-only?) options on the bench.

The Pirates haven’t had a great bat off the bench that often in recent years, although this changed a bit last year when their bench got stronger down the stretch with Morse and Aramis Ramirez. They could make the same thing happen this year with Morse and Rogers.

The Bullpen

The current bullpen is almost set, with just one open spot remaining. It’s hard to say what the Pirates will do with this spot. Will they go with one of the left-handed non-roster invitees, or go with another hard throwing right-hander?

On the left-handed side, they’ve got Kyle Lobstein, Jim Fuller, Kelvin Marte, and Robert Zarate. Of that group, Lobstein is the only guy on the 40-man roster. That would make him the front-runner as the second lefty, although I think the Pirates would use him as early season rotation depth out of Triple-A. The best of the NRI guys looks to be Robert Zarate, who can touch 94 MPH with his fastball, pairs that with a good slider, and put up strong strikeout and walk numbers in the minors.

The right-handed side has more talent, which could make it appealing for the Pirates to go without two lefties, especially since most of the current bullpen does fine against lefties as full inning relievers. John Holdzkom would be the front-runner for the final spot from the right side, especially if he can show anything close to his performance in late-2014. Rob Scahill and Trey Haley are two other hard throwers who are on the 40-man roster. The Pirates have Guido Knudson, Jorge Rondon, and A.J. Schugel in the minors, although they will probably be bullpen depth out of Triple-A.

The decision could boil down to a need for a second lefty versus going with a better overall pitcher for the final bullpen spot.

  • A LHB 4th OF would still be desirable, IMO.

  • Anyone that even moderately supports this roster construction is a shill for Nutting. What he did this off-season was criminal. We have an opening day pitching rotation with a #1 (Cole), #2 (Liriano), #5(Niese), #6 (Locke) and a guy that should be pitching in a men’s beer league (Vogelsong). Our opening day infield is similarly devoid of talent: 1b- Jon Jaso (a catcher with slap power), 2b- Henson (a guy who talent but has been inconsistent in the minors), ss- Jordy (complete trash) and 3b- Harrison. This is the year after we won 98 games! The MLB needs to take this team away from Nutting.

    • Wow, how do you really feel? I think you’re overreacting just a tad. Niese is a very solid 3/4 that deserves a spot in an ML rotation and Locke is also a solid #5. The fact of the matter is Locke and Vogelsong are placeholders for Glasnow and Taillon. Management made a decision this offseason to not overspend when the closest prospects to being ready play the exact positions of need to Pirates have. They made a play for a dominant bullpen and increased depth. Locke and Vogelsong only need to go 5-6 innings and we only need them to be perform for maybe 2-3 months. Jaso has a career wRC+ of 120 and an OBP 100 points higher than his average and those numbers are much higher against righties. He’s consistently averaged 30 XBH’s over 350 PA’s per year in his career. Jordy is not complete trash as he’s one of the better defensive SS in baseball albeit with a streaky bat. Hanson deserves a chance to what he can but it’ll be shortlived anyways cause Kang is ahead of schedule. The Pirates just aren’t going to commit large sums of money to players when they have a potential stud a month or 2 away. The Pirates brass has faith that Glasnow, Taillon, and Bell are near ready and they putting their eggs in that basket rather than have millions tied to just as big a risk. There’s no guarantee than any free agent signing will pay off and the Pirates aren’t in the type of market to have a $15-$20MM player not work out.

      • I agree, their plan was definitely to penny-pinch until Bell, Glassnow and Taillon were ready to come up in June. However, the Pirates might be 15 games back by the time that happens. I have absolutely no confidence that Locke or Vogelsong are going to pitch like 4th/5th starters. They made a huge mistake not bringing back Volquez on a 2yr/$20 million deal and not resigning Happ. Even if Glassnow and Taillon are ready this year and pitch well in the majors, its not like we couldn’t have traded happ or niese for prospects prior to the deadline to a team needing quality starting pitching (i.e., 95% of teams in the MLB). Bottom line, 10 or 12 million dollar contracts for a few years are not risky investments unless your name is Bob Nutting.

  • One of the main things I am disappointed in the Pirates’ management team … is that they short sightedly penny pinched in 2016 even though it looks like next year’s team is very likely to include many $500,000 players. By my estimate below, payroll will decrease next year by about $10 million:

    On the decreasing salary side – $30.5 million will be saved in 2017
    – Replacing salaried players (like Vogelsong, Locke, Cervelli, Morse, and S-Rod) with MLB minimum players (like Glasnow, Taillon, Hanson, Garcia, Moroff, Bell, and Diaz) will save $14 mil.
    – Departing free agents Melancon, Feliz, and Nicasio will free up an additional $16.5 mil.

    On the increasing salary side – approximately $20.75 million increase
    – Cole, Watson, Hughes, and Mercer salaries will increase via arbitration by about $10 mil
    – Cutch, Harrison, Marte, and Kang contracts will increase by $5.75 mil
    – Bullpen replacements will come from a combination of free agents and minor leaguers $5 mil guesstimate

    • I think the Pirates are gearing up to try sign multiple players to extensions.

      • That could be the plan but who would sign? Cutch, Marte, Kang, Harrison, Jaso, Liriano, Niese, and even Stewart are covered.
        I’m sure they want to sign Polanco, Cervelli, and even Cole but (I think) that’s not going to happen. Polanco is apparently very contract savvy (and confident) – not the country bumpkin we thought would jump at our conservative offer. Cervelli is looking at his one big contract. And Cole is headed for a major contract and California.
        There’s always Mercer and Hughes but I’m sure we don’t want to guarantee them much. And Watson, who should want to be paid as a closer considering he is one of the top ten relief pitchers.

    • The results are the same, but I don’t see this offseason as just plain penny pinching…I think they laughably misread the market, thinking they could be players for a few key free agents. Once that fell apart, and they couldn’t even land decent reclamation projects, they somewhat committed to a re-tooling year. Left major holes on the big league roster for prospects to take when they were ready, but pseudo-built a team to “contend” as well.

      • I agree with the misread market part. And just to be clear, I am not a Nutting basher. I meant “penny pinching” in more of a “stick to our guns” philosophy. I think after they saw things changing they could have splurged for a SP or even an extra $4 mil to get Bastardo

  • A speedy 4th outfielder would be nice. Broxton would have been that guy I think. Not sure how is bat would play though. Still a lot of time to look for pieces to make us better

  • I remember last year there was discussion a big deal about pinch runner for the playoffs. Since Broxton is gone who fills that role for the Pirates if we make the playoffs?

    • Florimon would effectively work as a pinch runner. Decent speed, non awful baserunner.

      Low key option would be a guy like Antoan Richardson. If he’s recovered from the back surgery without a loss in speed, he’s the definition of a pure pinch runner. Not a sure thing he’ll stick around that long, but if he does and the speed is still there he’s got plus speed and shown plus baserunning “smarts”.

  • I would like to see a bold move to fill the second lefty slot in the pen. What about Will Smith in Milwaukee? His salary is reasonable at $1.475M and he’s a hammer lefty. It would cost a little bit in prospects, but I think he would be worth the investment. Thoughts?

  • I always get a kick out of the “Well, if so and so goes down, we’re screwed” comments.

    There aren’t a lot of teams out there that handle long term injuries to a key piece well. We are not alone in that regard.

    It’s hard enough getting top notch starters, let alone backups.

    The 1960 Pirates had Schofield backing up Groat when Dick went down. Luckily, Schofield hit something like 80 points over his career average.

    • This is a good point. I just think 2016 may end up being a bit different.
      Instead of picking up vets in July, it will be the Indy additions. “Re-tooling” as the NMR says.

    • Oh yeah? Pick any one star player without doing any research across the league- and I’ll tell you whom his depth option is at that team- then we can compare them and see the dropoff- and the thing is, i’m not even talking about dropoff, i’m talking about actual NEGATIVE WAR value as some of our backups taking into account the effect of forcing them to play positions they aren’t good at. Sure, if Cutch gets hurt we aren’t going to be able to replace him, but is it asking too much to have a backup that MIGHT be able to provide a 1 WAR if played for the season???? Do we have anyone other than Rodgers whom would be projected to provide a 1 WAR whom is a bench option or in AAA for 2016? – look it over, then you will see why I’m preaching lack of depth.

  • Not signing or trading for a valid #3 starter and forcing Locke/Vogelsong into the #4/#5 slots, even if only for a 1/2 season is going to bite them in the rear I fear.

    • i agree foo…..I agree. Its a dice roll that they don’t need to be doing. If they don’t have enough left over money because they resigned Srod and Feliz, or because they didn’t trade Melancon, then they just plain mis-prioritized their payroll

  • I was surprised he didn’t mention the World Series as the reason the Royals could spend more. If you win the WS, you obviously make a ton of money compared to a team that played one playoff game. It was strange to focus on attendance, when I guarantee they made a lot more by winning the WS, so they should have more to spend. He could have mentioned both reasons so you see where it adds up, but the WS win is where the real difference is.

    • Well said John. If I remember the figures correctly the difference in attendance between the two teams was basically separated by the additional tickets they sold during the playoffs and World Series. Other than that the attendance was very similar. That’s where most of my frustration comes from. It always seems like they put the onus on the fans as the reason why they’re not able to spend more money and I find that highly offensive.

      • Wrong. The royals do indeed draw more than the Pirates in regular season and no one is mentioning they charge more for tickets than the Pirates do. Revenue is the key figure …tickets sold x price of tickets. That said the GM should stay away from their types of answers. Net is the bucs have given Neal a budget and it forces him to make decisions that are tough. But he should not just blame attendance purely for the budget restraints. The Pirates debt and ownership apparent desire to aggressively pay that down is at least as relevant

        • I’m pretty sure if it was up to most people they would rather pay a few dollars more per ticket if it meant the club would put it back into the team. I was surprised he said it too. I understand that they want and deserve to make a profit but they are running a risk of alienating their core group of fans many of whom are the ones who purchase season tickets. It’s true that they must spend wisely in order to remain competitive but at some point they have to leave their comfort zone and let NH make a move to get them over the top. That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store for the Bucs.

        • The value of the team has more than doubled on the market in the past 5-7 years- when you see that kind of increase, you don’t need actual “profit”. It would be like having a tech stock that doubled in value over 5 years, but since it’s not paying a dividend, you tell people you aren’t making any money on your investment. Its irrational thinking. You want profit, win the world series then sell the team-

    • if you make a lot more by winning the world series, then maybe making moves to get your team there is a better option than mentioning attendance….just sayin. you make more money from the league- you sell more merchandise- and you sell more season ticket packages

      • Thank you!

        The welfare mentality that pervades the Pirates is so terribly obvious. Why take risks making your own money when the rest of the league gives you millions?

  • Agreed. Some of the expectations with the rookies is where I take issue with things.

    • I think those expectations are more media/fan driven than the team. They have never said what exactly they expect from Glasnow/Taillon/Bell this year, so saying that they have expectations for those three is just guessing. Signing Jaso for two years and putting him at first base almost goes against expecting Bell to contribute this year. They have had contact with numerous free agent pitchers, even after signing Vogelsong, so they aren’t assuming anything.

      • I dunno John….FC came out and said something to the effect of “We have some pretty good pitchers ready to help us out this year”.

        It isn’t just the fans and media.

        • They have actually hinted at the opposite recently, mentioning Alvarez and Polanco as reasons they don’t want to call up players too early. This probably the quote from him you remember, which also mentions making trades and signing players. That was before they added Niese, Rogers, Nicasio, Feliz, Jaso and Vogelsong:

          “We look forward to seeing several players from our system making a meaningful contribution at the major league level in 2016,” Coonelly wrote. “Our core will always start with our development system and will be supplemented by trades and free agent signings.”

          That response was to a question of whether any of those big players, specifically Josh Bell, would be able to make the team on Opening Day. So out of context it sounds like they are expecting it, but in reality, he was deflecting the question, saying that they hope they contribute, but there are other ways to acquire players. Since then, Neal Huntington has specifically said that Glasnow isn’t ready and Taillon hasn’t pitched in two years, so there shouldn’t be high expectations on him, he will be taken slow. It would be unfair to expect him to just step right in and contribute. Plus throw in the Jaso 2-year signing and putting him at first base.

      • numerous contact with pitchers just as bad if not worse than vogelsong…..unless you have some data on rumors about a pitcher whom might actually help the team instead of make it worse.

      • I agree, but if the Front Office *doesn’t* have high expectations for these rookies it’s an implicit admission that they do not plan on contending this year.

        Nobody can look at this club and believe they’re a contender without significant rookie contribution.

    • I just like everybody else are looking forward to the rookies coming up and helping no doubt. However by depending on them to be ready to slide into those other two rotation spots by mid season is a huge gamble.

    • HartHighPirate
      February 7, 2016 5:12 pm

      The Cubs expectations with rookies paid off last year. Will any of these rookies suffer the sophomore jinx this year?

      • Did the Cubs “expect” to win last year?

        • Yes, they did expect to compete, and said so right from the beginning of ST.

          • Bullshit. I’m sure you had Arrieta as a 5 WAR pitcher too.

            • This is just silly.

              The reason the Cubs were such a big story last year is *exactly* because nobody reasonably could’ve expected their rookies to perform like they did. That was jammed down our throats all summer. Epstein & Co have *literally* said they didn’t expect that for at least another year.

          • when a team expects to compete, that sounds like a team that thinks they can be .500 but hope they can be better. that is not a high expectation

    • Yeah, I tried to tell the Cubs last Winter you can’t put such high expectations on rookies, but they didn’t listen either.

  • For the reasons Tim mentions, I am fine without a 2nd lefty. However, Hurdle is the one that needs to be ok with it. You can not risk burning out Watson because he is very important this year as the 8th inning guy and extremely important in 2017 as the closer apparent

  • Rogers should realistically be starting for someone in the majors after his numbers (albeit sss) last year. Having him as a bench piece positions the team strongly.

    • actually zach it would appear that way, but its not true. Because of his lack of position flexibility, he actually creates roster weakness. Instead of having a capable backup for Mercer or a good 4th outfielder, we essentially have a 3rd first baseman which will quickly become 4 when Bell is called up. Trading Rodgers for someone whom can play one of those other positions reasonably well and handle the bat would have way more value to this team

  • I am pretty sure Meadows got an invite last year, did I miss something as to why he wasn’t invited this year?

    • He did not. McGuire getting an invite might throw people off, but teams need a lot of catchers for early Spring Training. Meadows played four Spring Training games last year, so maybe you remember that? You don’t need an invite to play spring games though, they always bring extras over from minor league camp.

      • Oh ok, I was checking that and I saw him hit a triple in one of the games. So I thought he was invited because he was playing. Thanks for clearing that up

  • Surprised. Meadows not invited to spring training or did I miss something?

    • This brings up an interesting question. Meadows has no shot to make the team but what’s the cutoff in experience level? If I recall Bell got an invite last year and he was also in Altoona like Meadows. So to echo your question, why wouldn’t Meadows get an invite?

      • Because there is no point to inviting him. Leave him in Minor league camp where he can focus on getting ready for the season.

        • Its not like we have a lot of MLB ready outfielders
          in camp anyway. As I have said, we are one too
          many inside pitches to Marte or Mc Cutcheon
          from who starting in the outfield if Harrison
          is our regular infielder?

          • Well……we’re lucky enough to have 3 guys capable of playing all 3 positions. So that kind of leaves RF or LF. S Rod maybe? Morse also “plays” RF. Hope for Kang to get back soon and free up Harrison. For the record I didn’t think Decker was terrible as a 4th OF. But him and Broxton are gone. They’ll be ok. Even if Marte takes his obligatory pitch off the hand for a quick DL stint.

          • In that scenario, you put Harrison in the OF and put Hanson at 2B.

          • I guess you end up trading from surplus and getting 1/2 value for all these young pitchers so we have someone who can play .

        • Fair enough. Did they invite Bell last year or did I imagine that?

      • Bell didn’t get an invite last year.

        • I thought Bell played a spring training game against the Phillies. I must be losing it. As always Tim keep up the good work.

          • Bell played three games last year, but you don’t need an invite to play spring training games. Teams bring minor leaguers to each game. In fact, some of those minor leaguers end up getting more time than some invites who are part of the first cuts.

  • It seems that the Pirates really have too many question marks in the rotation to feel confident that they are going to be in contention for the playoffs this year. Realistically they’re not going to make it every year (unfortunately). It looks like the Pirates at least to this point were not willing/able to make the financial commitment to upgrading the rotation.
    So they seem to be counting (hoping?) that Niese will be able to get back to his 2012 – 2014; that Jeff Locke will somehow be less erratic than he has shown in the psst, and that Vogelsong still has “something left in the tank”. Or maybe that Nicasio can step up? Looks like the injuries to Taillon and Kingham have really hurt them…a rotation of Cole-Liriano- Taillon- Kingham-Niese would look a lot better. And they can’t expect TOR performance from Taillon and Glasnow the second they’re called up. The bench doesn’t seem that strong, either – a late inning speed option like Broxton offered (maybe Hanson or Florimon?)…..Seems that they’re going to need some really strong hitting from Cutch – Marte- Polcano- Harrison – Kang in the 1st 2 months and hope for some “regression” by the Cubs and Cards (wouldn’t count on either)…2017 anyone?

    • 21: The Pirates have 4 experienced SP’s – three of whom are Lefties. At best we have a 1, 2, 3, and 4; at worst a 1, 2, 4, and 5, paired with one of the deepest BP’s in MLB. This Rotation needs some help and we have 2 or 3 guys who can step up immediately if not for considerations about not wasting a whole year of MLB Service or Super Two status – but we have to leave slots for at least 2 guys this year.

      Regardless of how good the pitching is we will always need strong hitting from every player you mentioned and toss in Cervelli, Mercer, Rogers, and Morse. We are also providing opportunities for Josh Bell and Alen Hanson (sorry Tim – can’t see any benefit to Cole Figeroa?).

      On the other side we have not had to spend much time on the annual “we hope” discussions about Charlie Morton, Pedro Alvarez, and Andrew Lambo – for that I am very grateful. We have gone into the past few seasons with guys like Travis Snider, Jaff Decker, Keon Broxton, and Andrew Lambo as first OF guys up – those players or guys with equal abilities will be available before the season starts – if needed. Trust the NH force

      • Nice Post, EMJ.

        I think the Pirates are taking a very sabre-metric approach this year. With Locke and Vogelsong, the Bucs are betting for their career average numbers with the proviso that they’ll pull them early (making their better numbers stand up more) and that they’ll support them with more runs.

        I think this year the Bucs are more likely to score 4 runs or more per game than last year. If so, they’re contenders.

        Kang for a whole year is a powerful offensive boost. Rogers and Morse and Jaso: solid. JHay & Mercer: solid. Outfield with a projected bump in production from Polanco: All-Stars from left to right. Catching: Maybe the best in the league this year coming.

        The Pirates are taking an aggregate approach here. Loading up on guys who can pitch the 5th and 6th with real velocity and fortifying that with the prospect of scoring more this season.

        Thing is, by mid-season, that rotation will be featuring Glasnow and Taillon as well. All that bullpen has to do is get our starters through the first half.

        ————————————-
        “Shaddap an’ start simmerin’ !!”
        -Wabbit

        • Thank you, and every so often I think we all need to do a collective remembrance of the way the Pirates played in April, 2015. That should be enough to appreciate where they are at right now.

          We started the season last year and our Top 3 guys in the Rotation were stellar. But, Morton did not pitch in April, therefore Locke and Worley were our 4/5 and they had ERA’s of 4.76 and 4.50. Mark Melancon pitched 10 innings giving up 6 ER and finishing April with a 5.23 ERA; Bastardo 4.50 ERA. And, not much help from some of our hitters like Mercer .197 BA, .472 OPS; ‘Cutch .194 BA, .636 OPS; JHAY .213 BA, 613 OPS; and Pedro .224 BA, .712 OPS.

          And after that pitiful start, that team finished with 98 Wins. We could be deeper going into ST, but I like where the Pirates are right now, and they are a team that plans to get a lot better as this season progresses, and carry all of that forward.

          • If our #4 and #5 pitch around 4.50 ERA through the end of May- it will be a miracle. And yet at that performance, we would likely to be sitting in 3rd place in our division as much as 7 games back on June 1st under that scenario. Why is that something we should be welcoming?

      • Why do you “have” to leave 2 slots? Ya know, other teams just choose the one failing pitcher, or they have an injury- and they make the change. We didn’t have a slot the year Cole came up if you remember correctly. He was about 8th on the depth chart at the beginning of the year i think

  • Hard to have position battles when you have no mlb depth…..

    • Sorry, but that comment makes no sense to me.

      • Yeah this is one of the deepest teams in baseball…rotation I think is a big question mark but definitely deep everywhere else.

        • deepest minor league talent wise yes, but jayhawk, see my above response to foo and see if you can really argue with it. We have no rotation depth, no outfield depth that is ML ready, no shortstop depth, and noone whom could reasonable step in other than Hanson whom is also not ready, to play any of the other infield spots without being a complete debacle at either offense or defense.

          • Last year we had no less than 3 players whom had success at AAA whom could have been 4th or fifth outfielders on a good team and we also had Kang as a depth option. for rotation depth we had Worley, richard, and sadler beyond a starting five which is better than we have now. The only place with a lack of depth last year was first base, but we started having Lambo as that option at least.

            • Totally agree. If any of the OFs or Mercer or Harrison get hurt or if Kang isn’t ready there is no one. Not even a Lambo or Barmes.

              Same with SPs. If someone goes down in Spring Training, then what?

              • They are definitely going all defense at SS after Mercer with Florimon and Ngoepe after him.

                • Mercer’s offense is non existent – hard to do any worse than he did the first month or two of last season. I really don’t understand why they have not tried to upgrade at SS – 2014 was his best – an awesome 2.0 WAR. He ranked something like 33rd among SS last year with at least 200 innings. Pathetic and nobody talks about it.

                  • I truthfully think it is because other than April and May each year, he has played pretty well, at least enough to be average or even slightly above. Agreed that the horrid offense in april and may needs to be strenghthened, but Florimon would be a whole season of Mercer’s april and may, and so would Srod

              • C/mon – do a little research – Kuhl is not caught in the Super Two thing – Frazier and Moroff are possible short term help. David Ortiz had a rough winter – but will get some ABs in Spring Training and could be a bench/depth OF option

                • None of those guys will be on the OD roster, and its not close.

                  Its not about Super 2, its about the reality that Kuhl and Moroff are not ML ready right now.

                • Bruce. Do a little research????? Do you know anything about how this team is run? I have watched everything this team has done for 20 years and I cannot remember a single instance where a non-top prospect was moved from AA one year, to Major leagues the next before a September call-up. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened for a week because of a major injury and then that player sat his ass on the bench until put back down on the farm. If you can show me otherwise please do, otherwise don’t mock people.

                  • Late to the party and this probably won’t be seen by anyone but I seem to remember years ago Randy Tomlin being brought up from AA for what was supposed to be one start. He did well, stayed around and I don’t think ever went back to the minors. I could be wrong and this has only a little relevance to this discussion but from what I’ve read about him Brault seems a little like Tomlin to me.

                    • Before that Barry Bonds jumped straight from AA to the Pirates. But then, he was Barry Bonds.

                    • That was in a completely different regime- over 20 years ago, with different coach, different GM, and even different owners. Do we want to talk about the route Clemente took to get to the majors as well? I’m not saying that to be a jerk, just add a little humor. We just wouldn’t do it Cecil- i’m not saying we SHOULDN”T because i don’t think we need to be as conservative as we are, but it isn’t changing. It wouldn’t change even if we had the next Griffey. Ken in our system today wouldn’t see the field at 19, he would have been 22 at the earliest when he saw the field

              • THANK YOU HOPTOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – i’m not sure if everyone here is blind or what…… telling me that Srod can fill in or Florimon can play totally proves my point. You can’t replace 2-5 WAR players for 6 weeks with someone whom at their best, is a replacement value player. There is no upside with either of those two players, and Rodgers, the only decent hitter on our bench, serves no purpose defensively to cover any of the positions where we need depth. Their best bet would be to deal Rodgers for a veteran outfielder or a shortstop

            • Bridgevillebuck
              February 8, 2016 6:44 am

              Injuries can be a killer Cumpton, Kingham,Sadler…

          • Sale the team, the season is already over !

            • If you are going to mock someone leo, at least use the proper words leo, try “sell” instead of “sale”… the season hasn’t even started yet, so its definitely not over, we have time to fill a gap or two, and we could get lucky and have no major injuries, and our rookies could come in and be above average……but the chances are, that is not going to happen. Chances are, at the end of May we’ll be barely .500 again and sitting in 3rd place , 5-10 games back and have a difficult trek to try to catch either of the teams in front of us. Our team as it stands today, is inferior to the team we had on 2/7/15. And since we lost in the wild card game, we should be trying to make the team at least at that level, not settle for below. Have you guys not watched the “settlers” commercials on TV?

        • One of the deepest teams in baseball? Laughable.

      • We have no suitable backup in the outfield, shortstop, 2nd base or 3rd base (because hanson could literally only backup one position) which means we either have 5 or 6 positions in the field where if there was an injury, we don’t have someone capable (meaning a player whom could at least be a potential starter or platoon player at that same position on a very poor ML team) – Now does it make sense foo? Catcher and first base are the only positions we have “options” at, which is why there are no position battles.

        • It makes sense I just don’t agree with the scope of the assessment…I don’t think many teams in baseball can boast much better depth than prospects or replacement level guys behind starters. Only team I can think of off jabs with crazy depth options are the Dodgers. And if you get to the June area of the season, there are a ton of options at every position.

          • So you are saying that most teams go INTO spring training where you can literally have a zillion guys in camp whom are bench options- as light as we are right now? This is the lightest i’ve seen our depth going into a season since 2012 at least. Normally we have 7-8 reasonable starting options, at least 1 or 2 kids whom are ready to play in the outfield and provide value or at least have the potential to. Look at the roster right now, and compare it to the 40 man roster from a year ago- and tell me which team has more players ready to contribute on April 1st in the event of an injury. If that’s not the meaning of depth, I don’t know what is.

            • peanutbutterguts
              February 7, 2016 8:02 am

              I think our lack of depth can be misleading. All 3 of our outfielders can play all 3 positions. We have a 1b and 2b that can play RF. A 3b that can play SS. A 2b that can play 3b. And that’s not including SRod n Rogers.

              • No- it’s not misleading, you can’t move players around that are hurt. That is the issue: Depth is to guard against INJURY, not days off. We have no depth!!!!!!! Please explain to me what we do if Marte comes down with a broken wrist from a HBP on April 1st and is out 6 weeks…….anyone? How about Polanco? Cutch? What do we do if Mercer gets nailed at shortstop again and is out 6 weeks? – Any of those situations would be a COMPLETE disaster right now- we have noone ready to step up for more than a few days. That is not depth. That’s praying noone gets hurt. Doesn’t usually work very well

                • I think you have been reading my posts for about the last
                  4-6 weeks as I have talked about inside pitches to
                  our outfielders. Harrison can only play one position
                  at a time. If he is our regular 2nd baseman, then
                  that’s where he plays and develops consistency
                  and consistency of the infield.

            • There is depth everywhere, the pirates intentionally have guys who all play multiple positions, jay hay, S Rod, Rodgers, Jaso, Kang, Morse, Hansen, Sp depth, trevor williams, Chad Kuhl, later Glasnow, Taillon, kingham, bullpen full of flame throwing options. They also have Wily Garcia in the minors as outfield depth. When Kang is healthy they will have more depth.

              • Jason- have you been drinking the koolaid? I gave a very specific description on what I meant when I said “lack of depth” it means having zero players on your bench at any of the positions I named that are capable of being starters, ANYWHERE in the major leagues. This is what is needed to protect against injuries. JayHay is your starting 2nd baseman- he is not depth. SRod is not depth, he is a utilityman whom is barely capable defensively at many of the positions they put him at, and completely incapable of being a major league hitter: he is the last man on the bench, that is not depth. Kang is your starting third baseman, also not depth. Morse and Jaso are your starting first baseman, also not depth, and I didn’t name first base as a place where we didn’t have depth. Hanson is a rookie and at this point can only potentially step in at 2nd base, or third in an emergency, he can’t play both at the same time. None of those pitchers you mentioned are options before July at the earliest, and none of them have thrown a major league pitch as a starting pitcher, they are NOT depth options early in the season. Wily Garcia is not ready as Tim has already described in multiple articles, his UPSIDE is a 4th outfielder….someday…he isn’t close to that now. He is also NOT a depth option to open the season.

                • No i did the reseach and kang plays third, short and second, jay hay all positions, morse, rodgers outfield depth, hansen 2nd short and third, all capable starters all able to give rest to any given position on said day. Plus wily Garcia outfield depth along with Diaz. So cutch needs a day off marte moves to center jay hay, rodgers, or S rod or morse play right field all viable options. Hansen fills for Jay Hay if he moves your just not seeing the flexability for what it is

                  • Jason- I know what you are getting at. He never said we don’t have “flexibility”, he said we don’t have depth. Definition Time- Depth- having more than one player at each position in the organization whom can play for an extended period of time without affecting another position in the event of a prolonged injury and without that position becoming an overall weakness for the team. Flexibility- ability to move players around for short periods of time for in-game management,and to give healthy players a day off or to work certain matchups. You don’t have “depth” if the second player on the depth chart for 3 different positions is the same player. You have depth if you have ML ready players in AAA, you have depth if the players on your bench have previous starting experience at a position at the ML level. We don’t have that.

                    • I looked at last years opening day roster and I did not see much “depth” as you guys seem to want to define it. Corey Hart? Kang? Sanchez? Rambo? Sean Hurdle? Lambo? Two of these guys got DFAd since then – one got retired and contributed nothing, Kang had yet to have a MLB at bat and was a huge question mark – many on this site and elsewhere wanted him sent to Indy for “experience.

                    • Bruce- that’s fair. I’m not talking about “MLB opening day roster” i’m talking about our “40 man” roster which gives us flexibility in an injury. Decker, Lambo, and Gorkys are all outfielders whom are better than any outfielder (mostly because we don’t have any) beyond our starters. We don’t even have anyone on the 40 man roster or a non-roster invitee whom has ever played a game at outfield whom has that listed as their primary position. I’m sorry, but that’s a problem. Kang was a backup option at both shortstop and third base and was seen as a future regular (and will be this year).If you didn’t see “depth” last year, you have to admit we have far less this year. I can also point to the rotation which had Locke as a #5 fighting against Worley. Now Locke is a #4 by default, and we have no Cumpton, no Sadler, no Richard, No Burnett…..to be spots 6-9 in the rotation. If that’s not a perfect specific instance of our lack of depth I don’t know what is.

                    • I think we do, Hansen or Harrison plays everyday the other becomes depth at multiple positions, Morse, Rodgers, and Jaso, one plays the other 2 give depth at multiple positions, Garcia offers minor league outfield depth along with Diaz, Goebbert gives us outfield depth and Josh Bell provides outfield and 1st base depth. We are not sacrificing a starter in any of those scenarios

                    • Jason- That’s where you are wrong. Morse Rodgers and Jaso have no position flexibility. They are far below average at every position but first base, with the exception of Jaso perhaps being able to play a game or two at catcher (but that’s a position that we don’t need depth at) Again, giving someone a third baseman or outfield glove does NOT mean they can play there in anything but an emergency. Hansen can only play 2nd or third, and Harrison can only play 2nd and 3rd well. This isn’t my opinion, this is coming from anyone whom has analyzed their defense abilities, and specifically- Tim Williams- the guy whose site you are on. Bell also is no longer an outfield option and the Pirates have essentially said that, and has Bell considering he specifically put on weight and muscle which no longer makes him viable to cover ground in the outfield. Calling him an outfield option is like saying Neil Walker was an option at catcher because he played there in high school and a couple years in the minors- he wasn’t.

                    • Quite frankly, what we have is “emergency flexibility” not something even approaching “depth”- and my whole comment was originally that we don’t have depth for opening day in the ML club- I worded it that was SPECIFICALLY- so Goebbert and Garcia are moot to this conversation

                  • LOL

                • What have you been drinking is probably the most relevant question ?

                  • I haven’t seen you post anything close to an analytical statement about anything in months Leo……so why don’t you give us your well thought out and balanced opinion instead of bashing someone elses?

        • Well Floriman is better defensively at SS than Mercer – and the drop in offense would be tolerable for a month or so. Harrison is good in the corner OF – as is Sean Hurdle – again not long term – but enough to get by. Moroff is an option – Frazier would require a 40 man move but can play pretty much everywhere. Garcia is on the 40 man and an OF option. So I don’t think things are as bad as you do. The Cards got pretty good production last year from two guys [Piscotty and Pham] who were not on the opening day roster so finding help on the farm is not unheard of.

          I DO think there are a some interesting questions that need to be resolved in Spring Training.
          1. When will Kang be at 100%
          2, Can Morse provide any value – if it were up to me I would give him 60+ at bats and if he hits .220 with 2 HRs he gets DFAd. That opens a roster slot to address depth concerns elsewhere.
          3. Can Bell play first base and if not how long will it take to get him ready.
          4. Who on the Altoona and Indy rosters might be ready for the next step and when.

          • Florimon is a worse hitter than Rey Ordonez, and he doesn’t have THAT much defensive prowess that hitting .210 would be acceptable. Harrison is NOT good in the corner OF, and he is your starting 2nd baseman, so that isn’t helpful. Moroff and Frazier are NOT options to open the season or anytime before a september call-up, we both know that so lets not throw out guys whom haven’t even played a game in AAA as depth options-they aren’t. It isn’t unheard of in MLB, but it is not how the Pirates do business. Things haven’t changed.
            1. He will be ready by opening day, noone will ever know when he is at 100%
            2. Yes- I believe he can bring a LOT of value of given the chance- so your question is more related to Clint Hurdle than Morse, and who knows i’m sure Clint’s dosing rods and signs in the huge tub of double bubble are the things Clint will likely listen to
            3. Can he? Yes- can he play it better than me at age 37 10 years removed from playing a full 9 innigns at first base- God I hope so, but is he at that point right now…..i doubt it.
            4. They will mostly all be ready for the next step before the end of the year, I think you’ll see Taillon before Glasnow, and You’ll see Hansen earlier rather than later, but I doubt you’ll see anyone else join the team for more than an emergency injury situation before July 15th or so, even Bell

      • Are you kidding?!

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