Pittsburgh Pirates Mailbag: June 27th, 2019


Welcome back to the weekly Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag here at Rum Bunter

What could the future Pittsburgh Pirates infield look like? Should Josh Bell move up in the lineup? Has Jose Osuna earned every day at bats? And more in this week’s mailbag.

As always, thank you to everyone that submitted questions this week and participated. Now, let’s dive in!

This is a question that certainly has a different answer now than it would have before the season started.

After struggling last year Kevin Newman did not appear to be a long term answer and there were plenty of questions surrounding Josh Bell. This season, Newman has turned into one of the better lead off hitters in the National League while Bell is a MVP candidate.

The questions now become what happens at third base and where will Newman play?

Ke’Bryan Hayes remains one of the team’s top prospects. However, he is currently sidelined by a finger injury and he was struggling offensively beforehand at Triple-A. On top of that, Colin Moran is having a strong season for the Pirates with a .276/.325/.467 slash line and a 9.8% extras base hit rate. While not great numbers, these are more than good enough to be an every day player at the MLB level. So, unseating Moran at third base will not be easy for Hayes.

It is clear that Adam Frazier is not part of the long term plan on the infield. At least, he should not be. This leaves the Pirates needing to decide if they want Newman at shortstop or second base long term.

If it is shortstop, then Kevin Kramer could get a look at second base. However, his best position remains second base. This also opens up a spot for Cole Tucker at shortstop. Defensively, a middle infield of Tucker at shortstop and Newman at second base would be a strong one.

If I had to make a prediction for Opening Day 2020, it would be that the infield from left to right will be Moran-Tucker-Newman-Bell. The Pirates remain high on Tucker and he has shown a lot of flashes of good. They will want him to be given an opportunity to play every day.

Bell should move up in the lineup and it has nothing to do with how he hits with runners on base or with the bases empty. The reason Bell should move up in the lineup is because you want to guarantee your best hitter a 1st inning at bat. Batting fourth, Bell does not have this guarantee.

There is a lot of research that says your best hitter should bat second. This is where Bell should be batting for the Pirates. Clint Hurdle should look to sandwich his big bopper between Newman and Starling Marte at the top of the lineup, with Bryan Reynolds in the four hole.

This would certainly hurt the Pirate infield defense. Osuna is still new to third base and Moran at second base is, well, an adventure. However, it could provide an offensive boost as Osuna is a better offensive threat than Frazier.

That said, a big reason Osuna is having the success that he is right now could be due to him not playing every day. Some players are better suited in bench roles where they start once or twice a week and make their money pinch hitting. Osuna may be one of these players.

Could it still be worth the Pirates giving Osuna a look as an every day player? Possible. But at this point he has enough of a track record that points to him being best suited in the role he is currently in.

The safe bet would be left-handed. Entering play on Wednesday, Bell was slugging .658 with a .333 ISO as a left-handed hitter this season. As a righty, he is slugging .554 with a .287 ISO. While his power numbers as a right-handed hitter are strong, they’re strongest from the left side.

Next. Two Minor League Arms Worth Watching. dark

That will do it for this week. If you ever have a question for the mailbag, look for our Tweet each week asking for question. Also, do not be afraid to ever ask a question on Twitter or Facebook.