Today, the Pirates signed RHP Juan Nicasio and passed on taking a player in the Rule 5 Draft. The question on everyone’s mind, though, is how do the Pirates replace the production of Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez? Names such as Mitch Moreland and Mark Reynolds have been thrown around for first base, and second base seems to be held down by Josh Harrison in the depth chart, but how does a team conjure the missing 43 HR’s and 148 RBI in its current lineup?
Unfortunately for the fanbase, it does not seem as if the Pirates are going to be big spenders on the market unless the front office’s mindset changes, which is fine. The reality is that making a definitive decision about the roster being good/bad is way too early to tell. What is clear is that other players will have to produce more to balance out the offseason losses.
Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte are now tasked with becoming Andrew McCutchen’s major help in the offense. If Josh Harrison can find his 2014 swagger and Jung-Ho Kang can recover fully from his injury, this offense can be extremely productive. However, I don’t think anyone is envisioning Harrison hitting 25 HR’s or Kang being healthy for the start of the season.
For the most part, the bullpen seems to be the least of our worries. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon were one of the best late-inning tandems in MLB. Trade clouds still hover over Melancon, who, despite his great season, regressed statistically. Despite this, he is still one of the best relievers in the game. The starting rotation yields the most concern. Firstly, how do you replace a guy like A.J. Burnett? Chemistry can be one of the most overused terms, but you have to admit his presence energized players in that clubhouse. Second, is Jon Niese an answer?
There’s plenty of offseason time remaining, and there are more questions than answers. For the most part, I think we have to keep the faith in the front office. They’ve made some questionable decisions, but after making the playoffs for 3 consecutive years, we should be in decent hands.