Pittsburgh Pirates Mailbag: February 20, 2018


Welcome to this week’s edition of our Pittsburgh Pirates’ mailbag here at Rum Bunter

For the Pittsburgh Pirates, Spring Training 2018 is now in full swing. After pitchers and catchers held their first workout last Wednesday, yesterday the team had their first full squad workout at Pirate City in Bradenton.

With the first full week of spring training workouts having arrived, what better time to do a Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag. As always, thank you to everyone who participated in the this week’s mailbag by asking questions on Twitter.

Colin Moran is a player I have been high on since his time as a North Carolina Tar Heel. In my opinion, he will prove to be the prized jewel of the Gerrit Cole trade.

Pirate manager Clint Hurdle has already said that Moran will be the team’s starting third baseman this season, marking the first time in his professional career he will have a starting job in the Major Leagues. This is no fault of his own though, as he was blocked by a hell of a player in Alex Bregman down in Houston.

My expectations for Colin Moran in 2018 are high. Last season, Moran made changes to his swing that led to him crushing Triple-A pitching. He was also off to a hot start at the Major League level before suffering a concussion. You can read more about the changes Moran made here.

While the best of Colin Moran is still in the future, 2018 can be a big season for the new Pirate third baseman. FanGraphs projects Moran to hit 17 home runs while posting a .335 on-base percentage, .333 wOBA, and a 104 wRC+ in 2018. They are also very bullish on his power projecting a .171 ISO and a .445 slugging percentage.

Personally, thanks in part to the short porch in right field at PNC Park, I expect Moran to hit 20+ home runs in 2018. Look for Moran to be an above league average hitter, as FanGraphs projects, in 2018 as he begins to settle in as a middle of the lineup bat for the Pirates moving forward.

This is something I do not understand at all.

Bob Nutting has been bashed by Pirate fans and the media alike this offseason, and for good reason. The return for Andrew McCutchen was terrible and that trade reeked of a salary dump. The fact the Pirates are not reallocating that money to address a major hole in left field makes it seem even more like a salary dump.

Jarrod Dyson came off the board yesterday when he signed with Arizona, but players such as Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith remain as free agent options that would be upgrades over Adam Frazier, Jordan Luplow, or Sean Rodriguez in left field.

Also, as Dave wrote about on Sunday, the recently DFA’d Corey Dickerson represents a low risk addition for the Pirates, while also being an upgrade over the current left field options.

Instead, the Pirates have gone the super cheap route by inking Daniel Nava to a minor league deal. Admittedly, I like Nava. However, that is if Nava is the team’s fourth outfielder and backup first baseman. In no world should he be contending for a starting job in left field.

There is no reason the Pirates should not have added another outfielder by now. There is no reason the Pirates should not add another outfielder before Opening Day on March 29. However, it is becoming less and less likely that this happens.

It certainly appears that way after the Giants signed Mark Melancon last offseason, and then traded for Andrew McCutchen and signed Tony Watson this offseason. Unfortunately for the Giants, despite also adding Evan Longoria this offseason, that team still has plenty of holes.

The Giant rotation is a big question mark after Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, their outfield is shaky outside of Cutch who himself is in decline, and their bullpen could be messy as well. In my opinion, the Giants are an 80-84 win team.

Next: Spring news & notes: Feb. 19

That will do it for this week. If you ever have a mailbag question, feel free to participate by watching for our Tweet each week asking for your questions.