August 29, 2007

Pittsburgh Pirates: 2007 and Beyond Part 3

This is the 3rd in a series of articles that will take look at the current state and the future state of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The articles will be broken out into three parts: what should happen, what will happen and what could happen.  We'll take a look at each position in the franchise covering where they are, where they will be and where they should be.

The Pirates have a plethora of right field options, the list includes:

Xavier Nady

Ryan Doumit

Nate McLouth

Jose Bautista

Brad Eldred

Jose Castillo

Josh Phelps

Matt Kata

Steven Pearce

 

The top 5 in the list have started games in RF for the Pirates this season, the rest have yet to start in right, but they have been either been rumored to play or have been a sub a some point during the season.  Pearce is the only player on the list that has yet to make an appearance in Pittsburgh.  September is coming, and so should Pearce.  Pearce is a first baseman who can play right in a pinch, he is currently blocked at first by Adam LaRoche, so right is where he has the best opportunity to join the team in the near future.

Two players not mentioned are Chris Duffy and Andrew McCutchen.  McCutchen is slotted for center, so I have left him out considering the sheer number of right fielders available.  Duffy is allegedly a center fielder as well, or should I say when healthy he is a center fielder.

Jason Bay may even be considered at some point in the not so distant future.  Why Bay?  Considering how he seems to have lost a step, moving him to a much smaller right field would hide what is becoming a weakness in his game...his range. 

Needless to say, there are a lot of corner outfielders in the mix.  Something has to give, the log jam keeps getting more backed up.  This could be seen as an issue, but I look at it another way.  There is at least some talent available, something that has been sorely lacking in the last 15 years.

 

What Should Happen

Nady is the logical choice. 

Doumit should focus more on catching, he has played well in right but needs an every day position and not be part of a 10 player platoon.

McLouth is establishing himself as the center fielder until McCutchen is ready.

Bautista needs to stay at third.

Eldred needs to be able to hit MLB pitching.

Phelps doesn't have the experience right now.  He has a great approach to being a pinch hitter and fills that role too well to consider him an every day solution.

Kata and Castillo are bench players right now.  Castillo has a better shot at short than in the outfield.

Steven Pearce hasn't proved he is a major league talent yet, he may end up being no more than Eldred has been so far...A minor league masher.

So where does this leave us?  Nady in RF?  He is the best option and has been the most consistent everyday power threat on the team this year.  Really he has been the Pirates MVP for 2007.  He has proven he is not merely a platoon player, he is an everyday player.

What should happen?  A move of Bay to right field?  There is more to this statement coming in a couple days, but for now I will say Nady is the option until someone else can prove they can play there daily or a trade is made.  I am hoping for Pearce, he would be a nice presence in the middle of the lineup provided he can hit in the majors, but I am not holding my breath on seeing him regularly before 2009. 

 

What Will Happen

Right field is Nady's domain.  No question.  The problem with Nady is his health.  There needs to be a suitable option to back him up.  There are plenty of options available as backups, look at the list.  Right now, Doumit is the alternate right fielder, provided he is healthy.

 

What Could Happen

I will continue to hint at this, but the right trade or signing could make right field someone else's domain.  Potentially Bay could shift to right with Nady taking over in left.  True Nady doesn't have the range of a healthy Bay, but Bay hasn't seemed fully healthy in the last couple seasons.  As I said earlier, Bay moving to right could be possible.  McCutchen could also take over in left if Bay is moved, but that is a few years away.

 

Odds

Nady is the Pirates right fielder for the next couple seasons, at least through 2009. 

Pearce has a 50-50 shot of making the team as a right fielder in 2008.  Likely they will keep him from the 2008 roster to save on service time and bring him up in 2009.  Remember he has made a quantum leap this season going from high A to AAA over the course of the year.  He can't be ready now, can he?  Regardless of his bat, he needs to play daily and get more reps in right before he can legitimately make the MLB roster.

Doumit will play in RF, but he is the new Craig Wilson with a better arm.

The field will make up the rest, but primarily as backups to Nady.

 

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