The Pirates seem to have a very crowded roster right now, as we move towards the end of Spring Training and into the beginning of the regular season, there are still a lot of unanswered questions on the bench. While the Pirates crowded roster could be interpreted as having a lot of depth, it could also be viewed as a problem. It seems that a lot of the players vying for the bench spots in both the infield and the outfield are just nothing more than mediocre, without a lot of upside. No bench player is going to hit .300, or hit 30 homers, if they did that, they wouldn’t be bench players. The primary concern is if we can expect some kind of consistent production from any of them, and I’m just not sure about that.
Looking at the players available now, it doesn’t appear that there is much upside or potential from any of them for a breakout year. Presley? Decent defensively, alright slap hitter, but not a guy with a lot of future potential. Tabata? He’s the James McDonald of Pirates hitters, you never know what in the world you’re going to get from him, and you certainly can’t count on him when it matters. Looking at the infield, where’s the talented depth there? Brandon Inge? No thank you. The Pirates bench remains crowded, but with bodies, rather than talent. The Pirates have to figure out a way to get better help off of the bench than they are getting right now, and much better than what they had last year.
While I’ve been largely negative so far on the Pirates bench situation, I don’t want to be all doom and gloom. I really do expect good things from the Pirates this season, but my biggest concern at the moment, or at least the biggest question mark (outside of the back end of the rotation) is the Pirates bench. Because of the nature of the game, and the crazy things that can happen throughout the course of a 162 game season, you want to have as many definitive answers to questions as possible, even if those answers are less than ideal answers, at least you know what you’re going to get. Right now, it seems the Pirates last few bench spots are in limbo, along with the last one or two rotation spots (although those seem to be solidifying). The hope right now is that the last few remaining Spring Training games can give Pirates brass an opportunity to get as many of these questions answered as possible, as we finish our countdown to the 2013 season. Less than two weeks until the Pirates start playing games that really count. It’s gonna be one heck of a ride.