It’s time for the first Pittsburgh Pirates’ mailbag of the offseason
Did the Pittsburgh Pirates’ roster max out at 82 wins? How can the team add more powers in 2019? And more in this week’s Pirate mailbag.
As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions and participated in this week’s mailbag. Now let’s dive into the questions!
While the Pirates exceeded many people’s expectations by winning 82 games this season, that does not mean the roster has maxed out its win total.
With the growth from young pitchers such as Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove, and Trevor Williams this past season, plus, a full season of Chris Archer who was excellent in September, the team should have a strong rotation in 2019. A bullpen anchored by Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Kyle Crick, and Richard Rodriguez can be one of the best in the National League.
Well, a new hitting coach will be a big first step here. The Pirates have batters that can hit for power on their roster. Gregory Polanco has had multiple 20+ home run seasons in his career, Starling Marte is coming off a 20 home run campaign, Corey Dickerson was known as a power hitter before coming to Pittsburgh, and Josh Bell hit 26 in 2017. It will be up to whoever Clint Hurdle hires as his new hitting coach to get these hitters to harness their power strokes in 2019.
Getting a healthy Jung Ho Kang back could add some serious power, too.
This season Cruz slashed .286/.343/.488 with a .365 wOBA, 134 wRC+, and a .201 ISO. Offense is not the problem with Cruz. Defense, however, is an issue.
Cruz is just 19-years-old and already checks in at 6-foot-6, 175 pounds. There is zero chance he sticks at shortstop long term, which negates some of his value. Odds are, his long term future is as a corner outfielder, first baseman, or a designated hitter.
Cruz is a good hitter that may continue to develop great power. But depending on how things shake out for him defensively, how good of an all-around player he can be remains a huge question.
My guess is Kevin Newman will be starting at shortstop on March 28th in Cincinnati. In 31 games played this season Newman left a lot to be desired with a .209/.247/.231 slash line while being responsible for -2 defensive runs saved at shortstop.
That said, Newman hit well in the minor leagues and is a former first round pick. The Pirates are going to give him every opportunity to win the everyday shortstop job. However, do not be surprised if Jordy Mercer is back as an insurance policy in case things do not go well for Newman.
We’ll go with available managers to make it fair. In which case, it is an easy choice – Joe Girardi.
In 10 seasons at the helm for the New York Yankees Girardi was 200 games over .500, he went to the postseason six times, and he captures a World Series Championship. Honestly, he got a raw deal from the Yankees and never should have been fired after losing in the ALCS last season.
Girardi would definitely be my guy.
That will do it for this week. Throughout the offseason we will continue to do Pirate mailbags here at Rum Bunter, so, if you have any questions, make sure to watch for our Tweet asking for questions each week.