Yesterday Jason Mackey posted a conversation he had with Ben Cherington following the events of the non-tender deadline. If you read my piece yesterday, you probably can understand why I would be interested in what he had to say.
There were nuggets all throughout it and here’s a link if you’d like to read it all. I understand it’s behind a paywall so I’ll summarize some of the more interesting points that came up in the conversation for those who don’t have a subscription.
At short stop Cherington sees a position battle, and while you’ve seen many reference the fact Cole Tucker could very well start the season in AAA, the real nugget here was Ben openly reminding us that Kevin Newman also has options. Essentially he wants one of the group to grab the position and not let go.
Michael Feliz on his own is currently at Driveline Baseball Institute, one of the very best data driven instructional sites in the country. Working on his arm slot and delivery, this is an effort to stay healthy and gain consistency and his ‘want to’ really impressed the club, hence the signing.
Apparently they’d like to see if they can resign Clay Holmes but I’m not holding my breath, they seem to say this sort of thing alot, remember Archer?
My focus coming out of this piece was the outfielder bit.
Here’s the quote, “I think we’d like to add to that group between now and spring training.”
I sure hope so, because he was answering a question about the Pirates maybe needing a 4th outfielder, and I could make a pretty easy argument they need 2. You have Gregory Polanco, Bryan Reynolds, Anthony Alford and Jared Oliva as we sit here now. We think Alford is interesting, liked what we saw, sure has pedigree, but even so he can’t play every day.
The bench could very well have Phil Evans and Cole Tucker as the only people with outfield experience should they choose to start Oliva in AAA, and in that case Tucker would actually have the most experience coming off the bence.
Yeah, I’d say you need a 4th, but they could do well to find someone with a bit more of a chance to really contribute.
They could go in a ton of different directions to get one, first and easiest potentially being digging through the recently released players out there like Hunter Renfroe. I’m still a fan of kicking the tires on Joc Pederson but don’t worry, I remember what team I’m covering.
Some more realistic targets might be a reunion with Robbie Grossman, or maybe the power or nothing style of Adam Duvall is attractive. Albert Almora might be a good option because he can play center as well which would take the pressure for Alford to perform down a bit. Ben Gamel from Milwaukee is an interesting option as well.
The Pirates will have options is the point and even on the low end of the pay scale they could improve on what they have.
I’m encouraged to hear it as a need from management, but last year that ‘need’ was met with the signing of Jarrod Dyson, Heredia and Riddle. This year, they need to realize that this role is not one that will be filled internally, the Pirates are a Bryan Reynolds injury away from seeing how thin they really are. In fact the Indianapolis Indians depth chart right this second only has one outfielder listed, Kevin Kramer, who himself is Rule 5 eligible. Want to go deeper? OK, in AA they have Bligh Madris and Chris Sharpe.
Now I’m not ignorant to the fact they’ll sign some free agents (of the MiLB variety) and promote from within, but this isn’t a club with outfielders knocking down the door.
Like him or not, Polanco is most likely playing his last season in Pittsburgh and one way or another the outfield needs stocked. They could have two more drafts focusing on the outfield alone and not fill out the top levels of the organization quickly enough to hit the projected window.
Again, glad they see it as a need, let’s sign people that show you realize just how big an issue it is.