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The Pirates lineup of the moment

Nov 19, 2011, 5:45 PM EDT

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Already having picked up Rod Barajas to catcher, the Pirates are reportedly in the process of adding a second OBP-challenged regular to their lineup in shortstop Clint Barmes. That gives them a lineup that could look something like this:

RF Jose Tabata
LF Alex Presley
CF Andrew McCutchen
2B Neil Walker
1B Garrett Jones
3B Pedro Alvarez
SS Clint Barmes
C Rod Barajas

Obviously, that’s not a very potent group. The Pirates still want to re-sign Derrek Lee to play first, and if they can do that, Jones would battle Presley for a starting job in the outfield.

Third base is another problem, as Alvarez scarcely resembled a major leaguer last year. In-house alternatives Pedro Ciriaco, Josh Harrison and Chase d’Arnaud aren’t very attractive, so a stopgap third baseman would be nice. Unfortunately, there’s very little available at the position. If Wilson Betemit is out of their price range, they’ll probably have to gamble on someone like Kevin Kouzmanoff or Jose Lopez.

On-base percentage seems likely to be a major issue regardless of what the Pirates do the rest of the winter. Just one player in their current lineup had a .350 OBP last year (McCutchen at .364) and only one more cleared .340 (Tabata). The team is certainly better now at catcher and shortstop than it was last season, but that’s simply not saying much.

  1. florida76 - Nov 19, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Bucs definitely need to build on the progress made last season, but injuries are every bit as important as OBP. In August, seven Pirates were on the disabled list, and that played a role in the slide out of contention in the NL Central. Pedro Alvarez must finally start producing at 3B.

  2. Brian Donohue - Nov 19, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Agree with above: if they stay healthy, this could be a surprising lineup. Tabata playing a full year will deliver better numbers, and Presley could be the wild card here. I think that kid showed something late last year that bodes really well for them at the top of the lineup. Barajas is a solid addition, and I also have a feeling about d”Arnaud, who could become another pleasant surprise. But any upward movement they make will mainly be made from the bump, and I don’t think they’ve made any significant moves there. They’ve got a good-to-excellent pen for their division, and a couple of their starters could be solid. But I wouldn’t expect #1 pick Cole to be ready till 2013, so it seems like the Bucs will be a pesky team again, but probably 3rd place at best.

    • dan1111 - Nov 20, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      I agree that they have room to grow. Anyway, the only they would compete this season is if a lot of their young players break out. There is no sense spending money on decent placeholders instead. It’s better, for example, to see if Alvarez finally figures things out than to hire some mediocre 3B.

      Barmes and Barajas may not be great hitters, but they’ve probably done the best they could to improve at those positions, under the circumstances. It would cost a lot of money to hire someone better, which probably wouldn’t be well spent at this point.

  3. matthewtrueblood - Nov 20, 2011 at 7:31 AM

    Does anyone really think the lineup will be the problem with this team? They’re going to MISS Paul Maholm. That rotation is three years from playoff readiness.

  4. hushbrother - Nov 20, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    Last year the Bucs had a very good first half, and McCutchen was playing at an MVP level. In the second half McCutchen slumped, and the team went into a tailspin. If Andrew can put together a full season of MVP play, he can make up for the holes at the bottom of the lineup.

  5. clarknaddison - Nov 20, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    who cares about their OBP this year?? THey are signing stopgaps in order to contend a year or two out…

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