We are exactly three weeks away from Opening Day and the Pirates still have a couple decisions to make before they can play real baseball. The starting lineup and pitching rotation seem to be set and ready to go, but there are still some uncertainties about what the bench and bullpen will look like. About now is the time when all us nerd bloggers start making our predictions to try and look smart, which in my case almost always works against me. I’ve never been scared of failure though, so let’s have at it.
Bench prediction: Michael McKenry (C), Nate McLouth (OF), Casey McGehee (1B/3B), Yamaico Navarro (SS), Josh Harrison (3B/2B/SS)
The first three up there are locks. It looked as though Jose Morales was going to push McKenry for a spot and might actually win it since McKenry has options, but Morales has been hurt and hasn’t even played yet so his chances have all but disappeared.
That leaves two spots open, competitors are Navarro, Harrison, Nick Evans, Jake Fox, and Matt Hague. Navarro seems to be a very good bet to be the backup shortstop, so it kind of comes down to Harrison, Evans, Fox, and Hague. I’m thinking the Pirates want to see Hague play everyday at the beginning of the season, plus he doesn’t play anything but first very well. Evans and Fox have a shot; I just think the Pirates like Harrison’s versatility and locker room presence. Jay Hay can play all over the field and is a good speed guy to have on the bench.
Bullpen Prediction: Joel Hanrahan, Chris Resop, Jason Grilli, Evan Meek, Tony Watson, Chris Leroux, Juan Cruz
There is a ton of different combinations that we could be seeing come Opening Day, but that’s what I arrived at. Clearly Hanrahan, Resop, Grilli, and Meek are locks. The Pirates need at least one lefty in the bullpen, and Watson is the best one they have (despite his early spring struggles). Daniel Moskos is another competitor that I think could push for it if Watson continues to get hit around, but right now my guy is Watson. Chris Leroux is out of options and has stuff that is too good for the Pirates to risk losing. He’s in. Juan Cruz is the last guy. His main competition is Daniel McCutchen, who was very good for most of the year in 2011. However, McCutchen has options and hasn’t looked great this spring. Cruz is proven and can strike guys out, which gives him an immediate advantage. I’m going Cruz here.
All-in-all I’m pretty confident in those picks. The other writers here at Rum Bunter might disagree, but that’s what I have arrived at. Comment with your picks.
Tags: Casey McGehee Chris LeRoux Chris Resop Daniel McCutchen Danny Moskos Jake Fox Jason Grilli Joel Hanrahan Josh Harrison Juan Cruz Matt Hague Nate McLouth Nick Evans Pirates Bullpen Tony Watson Yamaico Navarro