Pittsburgh Pirates Mailbag: March 14, 2018


Welcome to this week’s Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag Q&A here at Rum Bunter

Spring Training is now more than halfway over, yay! In just 15 days, the Pittsburgh Pirates will travel to Comerica Park in Detroit to start a three game series against the Tigers to kick off their 2018 regular season.

As Spring Training starts to wind down there is plenty to discuss in the world of the Pittsburgh Pirates. But today, we discuss whatever you readers want as we tackle this week’s Pirate mailbag. As always, thank you to everyone who participated this week. Now, let’s begin!

Well, Neal Huntington and the Pirates know they need starting pitching help. So the answer to the first part is 100 percent. This is why they have been in contact with free agent starting pitchers while continuing to test the trade waters.

As for the second part, it seems very unlikely that the Pirates add starting pitching help between now and March 29th. Outside of Alex Cobb, none of the remaining free agents present a major upgrade over any of the team’s current five starters. Also, if the Bucs were going to add another starting pitcher, I believe they would have done so by now.

When Spring Training began Max Moroff appeared to have an excellent chance of making the Opening Day roster. Nothing he has done this spring has lessened those chances. However, roster moves by the Pirates have.

Since Spring Training began the Pirates have acquired outfielder Bryce Brentz from the Boston Red Sox. Brentz is out of options and possesses great power potential. For these reasons, it looks like Brentz will claim a bench spot to start the season.

Bryce Brentz making the team would appear to put Moroff on the outside looking in.

Despite having a great spring, there is no path for Jose Osuna to make the team. The positions he can play, corner infield and outfield spots, all have other backups ahead of him in the pecking order. Like Moroff, I expect Osuna to start 2018 at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Even if they start the year at Triple-A, expect to see a lot of both Moroff and Osuna in Pittsburgh in 2018 due to injuries, poor performances, etc.

For those who may have forgotten, Sean Rodriguez set career highs in home runs (18), on-base percentage (.349), wOBA (.363), wRC+ (128), and fWAR (1.8) in 2016. If Sean Rod can repeat that this season Clint Hurdle and the Pirates would be ecstatic.

As for how much it would help the team that depends on what happens around him. If Rodriguez is getting 500+ plate appearances again, odds are, it’s because multiple things have gone horrible wrong when it comes to injuries, poor performance, etc.

If Sean Rod can have a 2016-esq season off the bench, then the Pirate offense should be in great shape in 2018. If he has a 2016-esq season but it comes as a regular, then things get a bit more hairy.

This probably hinges more on what Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco do than anything else.

When the Super 2 date passes in mid-June if those three are healthy and producing as the Pirates hope they will be, then Austin Meadows will remain at Triple-A. If at any point from mid-June on any of these players get injured or are struggling, then the door should open for Meadows to reach Pittsburgh.

As long as he stays healthy, it would be a surprise if Austin Meadows does not make his Major League debut in 2018. Whether this happens in September or some time this summer probably hinges more on the healthy and produciton of the Pirates’ starting outfielders more than anything else.

Next: Kyle Crick's bread & butter pitch

That will do it for this week. As always, thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s Twitter mailbag and always submit any mailabg questions that you have on Twitter!