Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pirates Out of Options

I got an email a few weeks ago froma reader who asked "Why can't the Pirates just send guys like Brandon Moss and Delwyn Young to the minors and recall them when the team needs them?"

The answer is simple, both guys are out of minor league options and would have to clear waivers before they could be outrighted to the minor leagues.  Some team would surely claim them and while they haven't lit the world on fire as members of the Pirates, both have shown that they have talent and no team wants to give up on talented players too soon.

Here is a list of the other Buccos that are out of options: Moss, Young, Andy Laroche, Joel Hanrahan and Ronny Cedeno.  All would have to clear waivers before being sent to the minors.  A more likely option would be for the Bucs to deal one of them for a small return, in the event they have given up on them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Joel Hanrahan Shut Down

It didn't take long for the Bucco's to make some news after pitchers and catchers reported to Bradenton.  Neil Huntington announced today that set up man Joel Hanrahan will be shut down due to elbow tightness.

Early reports say their is no structural damage and he will just be shutdown for the time being.  However, if Hanrahan is still feeling discomfort in the next two to three weeks, then it's the three words no pitcher ever wants to hear- Dr. James Andrews.

Even if Hanrahan can pitch through the pain, he should be considered doubtful to open the season with the Bucs.  Hanrahan was the Bucs most effective reliever after being acquired from the Nats in the Nyjer Morgan deal.  Opposing hitters batted only .160 off Hanrahan in August and September.  During that span he had a 0.42 ERA.

I liked the back end of the pen, with Hanrahan and Evan Meek setting up Octavio Dotel.  I expect Brenden Donelley to move into Hanrahan's role and DJ Carrasco to get a bigger workload as well.

Since he will likely begin the season on the DL, there is one more job availbale.  I don't expect NH to attempt to sign anyone else, he will just go with the guys he has.  While not big names, the Pirates do have a little depth in the bullpen this season.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Pitchers Will make the Opening Day Roster?

Finally, I can get back to writing.  No more shoveling snow for the time being.  As pitchers and catchers get ready to report to Bradenton, let's discuss what pitchers are likely to head north with the big club for opening day.

Like I said in my last post, which seemed ages ago.  For the time being we will assume that JR is going to carry 12 pitchers on the opening day roster.

1. Zach Duke
2. Paul Maholm
3. Ross Ohlendorf
4. Charlie Morton
These four are locks
5. Kevin Hart, Danile McCutchen and Brad Lincoln

Lincoln appears to be a lock to begin the season with Indy and rightfully so.  He will likely get the call sometime in June or July.  A stong spring and good start to a AAA season could force the Bucs to rush him up sooner though.  Both Hart and McCutchen have shown they have the arm to succeed, but haven't had great results.  I think McCutchen has a better chance to be a good starter even though Hart has the edge when it comes to pure stuff.  As of now I give McCutchen the job as the fifth starter.

Closer- Octavio Dotel.  This was actually a good signing by a Pirates team that hasn't had many in the last decade.  Dotel has pitched well the last couple of seasons and his stuff is still electric.

Set up Roles
1. Joel Hanrahan- Another righty with electric stuff.  Hanrahan had tremendous results with the Pirates after being acquired in July.  He also would step in as closer if Dotel falters.
2. Evan Meek- Another power righty who came along last season.  Meek pitched well and is said to be in fantastic shape.  He is a lock.
3. Brenden Donelley-  He pitched well at the end of last season, coming back from Tommy john Surgery and hopefully the veteren can carry that into the 2010 season.

The final two middle inning guys will come from a group of: DJ Carrasco, Javier Lopez, Jose Ascaino, Steven Jackson, Brian Bass, Tyler Yates, Jack Taschner, Neal Cotts and Brian Burress.  I probably left out a journey man looking for a job, but forgive me.

The two candidates will likely be who pitches better in spring games.  I like Ascaino's arm, but I'm giving the early edge to Carrasco, who has proved to be a durable innings eater out of the pen, and Lopez, who hasn't pitched well in a couple of seasons, but after not having a lefty after the Grabow trade, the Bucs will likely carry atleast one.  If Lopez struggles in the spring, it could open the door for Cotts or Taschner to make the team.

The final bull pen job will likely come down to the loser of the Hart/McCutchen battle,Chris Jakubauskus or Jeff Karstens.  I'm going to go with the loser of the Hart/McCutchen battle.  Hart I feel would do better in a bullpen role anyways and I have a hard time seeing the Bucs not keeping him.  He does have a great arm, the results must come though.

Pitching is going to have to be good for the Pirates to have any shot at competing in the near future.  Hopefully they can take the next step as a unit towards that goal.