The 2016 edition of Pirates Spring Training is winding down. It’s been a pretty uneventful ride. Lots of experts agreed the roster was pretty much set from the get-go except for one or two position battles that were being waged.
Tim Williams at PiratesProspects.com has a great breakdown published this morning on just what those battles appear to be. Check it out if you have your own predictive crystal ball. He gets into the nitty gritty of finance and contractual obligations.
There was the expected speculation on Jung Ho Kang’s return. Will he start opening day or won’t he?
Then David Freese was signed and their was a little bit of excitement. No one stands to lose more from the Freese signing than Michael Morse and Jason Rogers, check out Nicolas Caporoso’s analysis. Michael Morse is set to make a lot of money this year, Jason Rogers is not. Sorry, Jason.
Then Juan Nicasio got noticed for lighting things up posting a 0.00 ERA over 15 innings. General Manager Neal Huntington then confirmed the obvious – there was in fact a battle going on for a position on the starting rotation. Jeff Locke, Ryan Vogelsong and Juan Nicasio were competing for the final two spots in the rotation. This was no surprise as right from the beginning Nicasio was being stretched out to start. What would be a surprise is that after all the hours Searage put in with Locke before spring training started working on his mechanics that they’d suddenly fold up tent and go with Nicasio.
All of these story lines seem to just be a preview of a season that will go down in Pirates history as a pretty big “what if”.
What if our top caliber talent is betrayed by a pitching staff that just can’t get it done?
The Pirates rotation is thin. John Niese is having a bad spring but it’s a necessity to keep the rose colored glasses on. He can turn it around.
Any combination of a Liriano or Cole injury and consistently poor performance from any one of the trio of Niese, Locke and Vogelsong will make for a lot of hard luck games against against the Cubs and the Cardinals. Hopefully, they’ll just pitch bad when the Bucs are playing the Brewers and the Reds. Those teams have already mailed it in.