Let’s Take a Stab at the Pirates Position Players and a Lineup

3-24-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

We’re quickly approaching the get serious part of Spring Training, you know, the time when you start seeing pitchers try to go 4 or 5 innings or position players start getting 4 or 5 at bats in a game.

Part of this will be the big decisions that have to be made and I’ll be as blunt as possible, most of them aren’t that hard, yet the Pirates have a terrible habit of making them feel that way.

We just learned that the season would begin with expanded rosters, from 26 up to 28 through the month of April. That’s primarily an effort to help the pitching staffs deal with a shortened Spring so instead of the 13 pitcher limit, I think it’s fair to expect they’ll keep 14 or 15. Today, I want to focus on the other 13 or 14 position players.

We’ve all heard the cries for Cruz to stick and whatnot but let’s walk through this roster and really try to figure out the locks vs the bubbles.

Locks

  1. (C) Roberto Perez
  2. One of (C) Taylor Davis, Jamie Ritchie and Michael Perez
  3. (OF) Bryan Reynolds
  4. (OF) Ben Gamel
  5. (OF) Greg Allen
  6. (3B) Ke’Bryan Hayes
  7. (1B/DH) Yoshi Tsutsugo
  8. (1B/DH) Daniel Vogelbach
  9. (SS/2B) Kevin Newman
  10. (SS/2B/RF) Cole Tucker

I can’t think of anyone else who I firmly believe IS a lock, keep in mind that’s different than SHOULD be.

The catching is obvious, one of those 3 has to be the backup and even if they aren’t one will be acquired. Greg Allen get’s lock status in my mind because he has shown pretty well, and unlike Alford hasn’t already had parts of 2 seasons in black and gold to judge his ability.

The controversial ones here are Newman and Tucker, but if you’re honest with yourselves you know I’m right. Newman has proven his glove to be more than just ok and Tucker looks like he’s finally made changes and put in the work to at least potentially show some of that first round pedigree. Now that’s 10, leaving us 3 or 4 spots depending on how they handle the pitching staff, but if I were forced to guess, it’ll be 3.

Bubble

  1. (OF) Anthony Alford
  2. (Utl) Michael Chavis
  3. (Utl) Hoy Park
  4. (SS/DH) Oneil Cruz
  5. (OF) Bligh Madris
  6. (Utl) Rodolfo Castro
  7. (SS/2B) Diego Castillo

OK, I’ll admit the team might not be on the same page as me here, but Anthony Alford is done. I’m not saying he has no talent, I’m just saying he’s had enough time to show it now and it isn’t happening. Even if he has a spell in him where he makes contact you can’t afford to keep a bench guy who falls into funks where he strikes out at an 80% clip. Allen won, move on and either trust Tucker as the 4th OF or bring Bligh North. This would be a direct 40 man swap.

I’d say Chavis, Park, Castro and Castillo are all battling for one spot. If I had to guess, Chavis and Park are probably more realistic here. If the Pirates choose to have Tucker act as the 4th OF as well as Middle IF bench player (hell even if that’s Newman) they can choose 2 here.

I know it’s not a very Pirates thing to do, but I can’t see how Oneil Cruz gets sent down. I’m aware that’s very possible, and I’m sure they have plenty of excuses already, but he’s the best player arguably on either list not named Bryan or Ke’Bryan and it’s visibly clear to everyone watching.

So I guess I owe you the 3 I’d pick.

  1. Oneil Cruz
  2. Michael Chavis
  3. Hoy Park

Yup, I’d go with Tucker/Chavis/Park as utility guys and be done messing with Alford.

So, Want a Lineup?

  1. Greg Allen (RF)
  2. Bryan Reynolds (CF)
  3. Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B)
  4. Oneil Cruz (SS)
  5. Yoshi Tsutsugo (DH)
  6. Roberto Perez (C)
  7. Daniel Vogelbach (1B)
  8. Ben Gamel (LF)
  9. Kevin Newman (2B)

Bench
1. Michael Chavis
2. Hoy Park
3. Cole Tucker
4. Jamie Ritchie (just because he isn’t Michael.

It won’t look like this by the end of 2022, I could have really spread out that bubble section to show that.

What do you think? Anything you think I’ve missed here?

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

6 thoughts on “Let’s Take a Stab at the Pirates Position Players and a Lineup

  1. Totally agree. I don’t know much about Jamie Ritchie but he has to be better than Micahel Perez, right? Also, do you think Cruz is the starter? If so, that makes Tucker the 4th outfielder I would assume but I would have a hard time believing they would go north that way. I’m thinking they bring in another OFer before the start of the season…Brett Gardner?

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    1. I could see that with Tucker. OK, Ke’ I have him 3rd because I want Reynolds 2nd, especially with a DH and the lineup turning over he should get more ABs and more RBI opportunities. If Ke’ isn’t the 3 hitter, I can’t put him at 4, maybe 5? and I’d prefer him stay near the top. That’s my thinking, doesn’t mean I’m right, just how I thought through it.

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      1. The top of the lineup makes sense, as long as Allen can keep up a good OBP. With that speed and smart baserunning, I think it’s safe to say two singles and two walks every 10 times up would please me–any extra bases are a bonus. If he’s grounding out an additional time instead of that second walk or hit, then that’s not really acceptable. I guess we’ll see–there are some Yankees observers who think they were too quick to jettison him.

        I have a hard time putting Tsutsugo, Perez, and Vogelbach in a row, no matter the order. I say, as someone who might believe in the potential for Perez to reach that career .657 OPS more than most: In the beginning I want him batting as little as possible. That’s for the obvious bad hitting he’s displayed more years than not, but also to try minimizing the toll on his body each game. If alternating R-L is still a desire, move Newman to 7 and keep Gamel at 8.

        I think they’ll use plate discipline, pitch recognition, and smoothing out defensive wrinkles as reasons to keep Cruz in Indianapolis a bit longer. As a silver lining, at least the fans in Indianapolis get to see him more than the brief period last season. The extra seasoning had better result in actual improvement, though. So Newman at SS, Tucker at 2B batting sixth is my expectation. Maybe they bump Gamel up a spot or two in the lineup, but I’m not too concerned about that because he’s not in long-term plans–and I expect to be disappointed with everyone but Hayes and Reynolds until proven otherwise, haha.

        I’m definitely done with the Alford project. He just doesn’t get on base enough. They’ve interestingly given CSN the highest competition level with PAs so far. But he hasn’t hit, whereas Madris has–swap him with Alford or even Oliva if they must. Give him his shot.

        Taylor Davis is just catching fodder–they’re playing him against low-level competition. Ritchie’s numbers in AAA might be inflated from the PCL, but they’re good enough (along with his ST) to go with him over Michael, in my view. Give him his shot.

        Park and Chavis they want to keep, which I can understand.

        Liked by 1 person

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