It’s time for the Pirates to get real. They tried to fake a we’re-not-tanking season, but it wasn’t convincing either before or after the plague hit. Who drags in a super-cheap 36-year-old with an OPS+ of 45 and 66 the last two years to be the starting center fielder if they’re not tanking? Or repeatedly puts Miguel Del Pozo in with the game on the line? And now the team is an MLB-worst 4-15 and is the go-to butt of jokes for sportswriters. Playoffs?? Playoffs??!!
The next step should be for the Pirates to forget the fakery and officially start playing for the future. Like now. What moves would you make with the existing roster? For ease of reference, I’ve listed the 60-man pool below, with the guys currently at Altoona in italics, and with my own preferred moves interspersed. Actually, it’s 55 if Roster Resource is accurate, which it appears to be. (MLB.com, with its typical level of customer service, doesn’t bother listing the 60-man pool.) I’m ignoring the guys who are hurt, most of whom seem unlikely to return soon. I’m also not addressing potential trades.
John Ryan Murphy
This is painful. The obvious thing to do is ditch Murphy for anybody who has a glimmer of prospect-dom, but there isn’t anybody. It’s pathetic that the Pirates don’t have anything resembling a catching prospect and equally pathetic that Ben Cherington couldn’t find anybody better than Murphy or Luke Maile, even with Bob Nutting’s penury. So the only solution is to scour the waiver wire.
Erik Gonzalez’ table-pounding has created something of a crunch in the infield. Still, Hayes is the future, maybe, and it’s really foolish to let him waste a whole year. Gonzalez and Hayes make Osuna superfluous. Riddle was superfluous the day the Pirates acquired him. So this is easy: send Osuna and Riddle down, and call Hayes up. Bell and Moran mostly trade off between first and DH, while Frazier, Newman, Gonzalez and Hayes rotate through the other positions. (Well, Hayes would play strictly at third and Frazier at second.)
This is another position that sets me off. With the severe need they had for help in the outfield, they settled on Dyson, Heredia and Brito. And then there’s the decision to sharply reduce Tucker’s value by moving him to the outfield, where there’ll be more pressure to hit. But at least that makes the basic decision easy: dfa Dyson and play Tucker most of the time in center. And call up Martin and Oliva. I’m not crazy about Martin; he’s had the equivalent of a full season in AAA and hasn’t hit at all, but as long as he’s on the roster it makes no sense to ignore him. And Oliva at worst could help on defense and on the bases, while getting a look at the Show.
The rotation is pretty set now, at least until somebody else gets hurt. I guess the depth is Tropeano, Ponce and Marvel, in that order.
Miguel Del Pozo
My biggest issue here was Yacksel Rios, but he just went on the IL. Cederlind and Gustave probably should be ahead of Waddell and Mears. Waddell hasn’t done much to establish himself as a prospect, but he’s a lefty with solid velocity. Mears needs to improve his command. Until then, he’ll always be a risk to be unable to get through an inning. But Cederlind may not be ready yet and Gustave almost certainly isn’t. Odds are, by the time one is ready somebody else will be hurt or pitch himself back to Altoona. If not, Cederlind and Gustave should probably replace Waddell and Mears.
So what moves would you make?