Found February 13, 2013 on Pirates Prospects:
With pitchers and catchers reporting today, and Spring Training starting up this week, we will be previewing the position battles to follow throughout the Spring. To keep track of the players who are in camp, and the updated status of each position battle, check out the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Tracker. I’ve already reviewed two of the position battles heading into Spring Training, looking at the starting rotation and the right field job. Those two battles are a bit more clear cut. Looking at the bench is a little harder to project. Some spots are easy, such as the backup catcher’s role or the platoon of Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez taking one of the available spots. Other spots on the bench are harder to project. For the outfield, you have to get the right field job correct before guessing which players could make the bench. The infield could really depend on Clint Hurdle’s preference. The final spot on the bench will depend on whether the Pirates want to carry an extra infielder or an extra outfielder. Plus, unlike starting spots, bench spots are usually more of an open competition, dependent on Spring Training results. Last year Matt Hague won a spot largely on his Spring Training performance. Some of the players projected to win a spot today could have a horrible Spring, while some players projected to go to Triple-A could force their way on the roster with a great Spring. With that said, here is my best guess at how the bench will take shape. The Locks Michael McKenry will serve as the backup catcher. Michael McKenry – McKenry will serve as the backup catcher to Russell Martin. The Pirates have a few other players in camp (Tony Sanchez, Lucas May, Carlos Paulino, Ali Solis), but McKenry pretty much has this job locked down. Gaby Sanchez – Sanchez will be platooning with Garrett Jones at first base this year, which means he will be taking up one of the bench spots the majority of the time. Backup Infielder Contenders: Chase d’Arnaud, Ivan De Jesus, Matt Hague, Josh Harrison, Brandon Inge, Jordy Mercer, Clint Robinson You could probably take Robinson and Hague out of the mix here, since the Pirates already have two first basemen on the roster. Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison seem like the favorites here based on their previous playing time, and the fact that both are on the 40-man roster. Brandon Inge adds an interesting twist. He’s been better than Harrison or Mercer. The problem is that Harrison and Mercer can play shortstop. Ivan De Jesus and Chase d’Arnaud can also play shortstop. De Jesus is a non-roster invitee, and doesn’t stand out ahead of anyone else in this group at the moment. D’Arnaud is coming off a down year in Triple-A, plagued by injuries and a low batting average. Both players would be better off going to Triple-A to raise their stock. The top three options would be Mercer, Harrison, and Inge. I’ll break down those three when I get to the final spot. Backup Outfielder Contenders: Brad Hawpe, Alex Presley, Jerry Sands, Travis Snider, Jose Tabata Yesterday I wrote about the battle for the starting right field job. I predicted Travis Snider would win the job, which would leave Alex Presley, Jerry Sands, and Jose Tabata battling for the backup outfield position. I don’t see Brad Hawpe having a shot at winning a major league job. Out of the three remaining outfielders, Tabata is the only one who is out of options. Presley and Sands each have one option remaining, and could go to Triple-A to start the year. As I wrote yesterday, Sands would be better off getting everyday playing time in Indianapolis, proving that his upper level power wasn’t a product of the PCL. Presley’s upside is more of a strong fourth outfielder, and he’d be good to keep in Triple-A as the first to come up to replace an injured player. The lack of an option is what really makes Tabata stand out from the other two players. None of them really have the numbers to stand out above anyone else. Sands hasn’t had a lot of major league experience, and hasn’t done well in his limited time. Presley and Tabata are both coming off down years, but both showed some promise prior to the 2012 season. In order to keep all three players, the best approach would be to go with Tabata. Final Spot The final spot on the bench will really be about whether the Pirates want an extra infielder or an extra outfielder. They’re going to have one of the outfielders on the bench, plus one of the infielders. The question is, do they want an additional outfielder as a pinch hitter, or do they want an additional infielder, so that they could use the other infielder for pinch-hitting? The argument for the extra outfielder is that the hitting potential is better for guys like Presley and Sands, since they have more power than guys like Mercer or Harrison. The argument against the extra outfielder is that you only have one infielder to backup three spots. Technically you could use Garrett Jones as an emergency replacement in the outfield and put Gaby Sanchez at first. You don’t have that option if you need an emergency infield replacement. The compromise here is with Inge and Harrison. Both have played corner outfield positions in the past, and both could serve as emergency replacements if needed. They can also play second and third base. Harrison has spent far more time at second, with Inge only adding the position last year. Harrison also can fill in as an emergency option at shortstop, while Inge could serve as an emergency catcher, even though he hasn’t caught since 2008. Neither player provides a strong backup to the middle infield positions. Harrison is decent at second base, but isn’t what you want at shortstop. Because of this, Jordy Mercer would make sense as the backup infielder. That would put him in a similar role as last year, spending a lot of time on the bench, not getting many starts, and not being used in many pinch-hitting opportunities. With Mercer serving as the backup infielder, that would leave the Pirates free to use Inge or Harrison in more of a super utility role, or as a pinch hitter. Both could play outfield in an emergency, which combined with Garrett Jones would lessen the need for two bench outfielders. The advantage Harrison has is his ability to play shortstop in a pinch, but that wouldn’t be needed with Mercer. Inge could serve as an emergency catcher, plus he has more power than Harrison. Because of the power advantage from Inge, and the ability to serve as a third catcher, my prediction would be him taking the final bench spot, with Jordy Mercer taking the backup infield spot. Projected Bench: Michael McKenry, Gaby Sanchez, Jordy Mercer, Jose Tabata, Brandon Inge
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Travis Snider Picked as a Breakout Candidate

Baseball Prospectus released a list of nine breakout candidates, with each writer picking one player to have a breakout season in the majors in 2013 (h/t Rumbunter). One of the breakout candidates was Travis Snider, who looks to be the favorite to win the starting right field job. Hudson Belinsky picked Snider as his breakout player, noting that the outfielder “could have a very...

Pirates Make Brandon Inge Signing Official

Last night we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates were close to a deal with Brandon Inge. This morning the team made the move official via press release. Inge is coming in on a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. There are now 61 players in camp. The Spring Training tracker has been updated.

Jameson Taillon on Spring Training, His 2012 Season, and More

Top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon is making his debut in Major League Spring Training this year, although realistically it is only for the experience, with Taillon having no chance of making the major league team on Opening Day. The right-hander will go to Double-A to start the 2013 season, and if he pitches the way he did at the end of the 2012 season, he should find his way...

Spring Training 2013 Position Battles: Right Field

With pitchers and catchers reporting today, and Spring Training starting up this week, we will be previewing the position battles to follow throughout the Spring. To keep track of the players who are in camp, and the updated status of each position battle, check out the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Tracker. The Pirates only have one established outfielder at the major...

First Pitch: Platooning Pedro Alvarez

My initial approach with the Brandon Inge news tonight was the same as any minor league signing: acknowledge that it happened and move on. Danny Knobler reported that the Pirates are close to a minor league deal with Inge, who turns 36 this season. Like 99% of minor league deals, this one comes with no risk, and a small chance to provide some sort of reward. For that reason, there’s...

Pittsburgh Pirates Early 2013 Draft Preview

The college baseball season begins tomorrow, which marks the beginning of draft prospect season. Ever since this site started, one of the goals has been to keep track of the players who could potentially be taken by the Pirates each year in June’s draft. We keep individual player trackers updated with stats throughout the year, and have at least two weekly updates on the progress...

Spring Training 2013 Position Battles: The Bullpen

With pitchers and catchers reporting today, and Spring Training starting up this week, we will be previewing the position battles to follow throughout the Spring. To keep track of the players who are in camp, and the updated status of each position battle, check out the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Tracker. If there’s one area where Neal Huntington has been successful...

Travis Snider: Breakout candidate?

While reading Baseball Prospectus's list of nine potential breakout candidates yesterday, I was legitimately surprised to find Travis Snider at number six on the list. Then, I thought about it some and decided that I was surprised to find myself surprised to find Travis Snider at number six on the list. I was excited when the Pirates traded for him in July and he actually played...

Brandon Inge Signs Minor Deal with Pirates

 Brandon Inge is 35 years old and still reinventing himself.  The diminutive catcher turned third baseman looks to extend his career again, this time as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Inge agreed to a minor league deal yesterday that includes an invitation to the Pirates major league camp. Only 5'11" 190 lbs., the Lynchburg, Virginia native spent his...

Pirates sign Brandon Inge to minor league deal

Spring training is hurtling towards us at a rapid pace, but the Pirates are apparently still filling out the fringes of their spring roster. While everyone was watching burning cabins and presidential speeches last night, the Pirates were signing Brandon Inge to a minor league deal. Inge, of course, spent most of his career in Detroit before being released by the Tigers in April...

2013 Draft Prospect: Kris Bryant

KRIS BRYANT 3B, San Diego Born: January 4, 1992 Height: 6′ 5″ Weight: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right Class: Junior Level: NCAA Advisor: N/A Links: All Kris Bryant Posts SCOUTING REPORT The Pirates will eventually have to replace Pedro Alvarez at third base, whether that’s when he leaves via free agency, or if he eventually needs to move to first base. Bryant...
Pirates News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.