Results tagged ‘ neil walker ’
- Manager Clint Hurdle addressed the players on Saturday, the first official full squad workout.
“There will be a group of men that turns this thing around here,” Hurdle said. “It will happen. So why can’t we? Why can’t we be the start? We need to set our bar at the championship level, starting with the execution and a mindset. We’ve got to think that way. We’ve got to act that way.”
“We need to focus forward,” Hurdle said. “We have work to do. We need everybody all in. We talked about trust; that’s something I’m a big believer in. There will be a group of men that turns it around here, so why can ‘t we be the start?”
- The first group of pitchers threw a live session of batting practice to the hitters.
Paul Maholm and Joel Hanrahan pitched to Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez.
Kevin Correia and Evan Meek pitched to Garrett Jones and Neil Walker.
James McDonald, Joe Beimel, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Veras, Aaron Thompson, Rudy Owens, Kyle McPherson, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke and Michael Crotta also threw live batting practice.
Each pitcher threw about 15 pitches. They then stepped aside for a bit and threw 15 more.
Group two will throw their live session of batting practice on Sunday.
- Pitcher Paul Maholm tweeted after pitching to BP and said his arm feels great.
“Had a great first full squad workout. Got to throw 35 pitches in live BP to overbay and Alvarez. Feeling better each time off the mound.”
- Hurdle has been focusing a lot on situation hitting and is pleased with the results so far.
“It’s a new process for them,” Hurdle said. “If you want to go somewhere you’ve never been, there’s got to be somebody who asks you do to things you’ve never done. I’m asking them to do some things they might’ve never done. It’s not so much about results daily as the preparation that’s put in and the focus in the drill. Some of the guys haven’t (done) well in the drills and they take it personally. But they understand the reason behind it.”
- Bill Mazerowski arrived at camp on Saturday. The hall-of-famer and eight time gold glove winner helps out at spring training as an infield instructor.
Former Pirates Bill Virdon (outfield) and Manny Sanguillen (catchers) have been there since day one working with the players. Kent Tekulve arrived mid week to help with the pitchers.
- Tyler Yates, who had Tommy John Surgery in 2009, has been throwing since January in Bradenton, FL. Under supervision. The reports are very encouraging and he has had no soreness or pain. Yates will have the opportunity to compete for a spot in the Pirates bullpen –something he almost gave up on. If things can turn around for the right-hander, his perseverance will pay off.
Neil Walker is getting ready to face Kevin Correia right now in batting practice (via @BucsInsider)
Paul Maholm, James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Ross Ohlendorf preparing to face live hitters (via @BucsInsider)
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On Monday, MLB.com Fantasy released the Top 100 fantasy players for the 2011 season. Andrew McCutchen (52) and Pedro Alvarez (79) made the list.
In Part one, here is the list of the Pirates starters and bench players projected stats for the new season.
- Chris Snyder (C ) Ranked: 451
2011 projections: 325 AB, .215 AVG, 35 R, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 0 SB, .318 OBP, .363 SLG, .681 OPS
Notes: What Snyder lacks for in batting average, he makes up for in power, smacking at least 13 homers in four of his last five seasons. He will likely supplant Ryan Doumit as Pittsburgh’s primary backstop this season.
- Lyle Overbay (1B) Ranked: 294
2011 projection: 510 AB, .269 AVG, 66 R, 17 HR, 74 RBI, 1 SB, .346 OBP, .437 SLG, .783 OPS
Notes: Overbay probably wont show much more power in Pittsburgh, but his average should come up a it and RBI opportunities will be plentiful hitting behind table-setters Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen.
- Neil Walker (2B) Ranked: 144
2011 projection: 570 AB, .284 AVG, 80 R, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 5 SB, .338 OBP, .449 SLG, 787 OPS
Notes: The 25-year-old appears entrenched in the third spot in the Pirates’ order in 2011, so a repeat of his ’10 performance could result in 90-plus RBI’s.
- Pedro Alvarez (3B) Ranked: 79
2011 projection: 559 AB, .263 AVG, 80 R, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 2 SB, .340 OBP, .481 SLG, .821 OPS
Notes: With his prodigious power, Alvarez is in Pittsburgh to stay, and the strikeouts won’t prevent him from putting up impressive numbers in his first full big league campaign.
- Ronny Cedeno (SS) Ranked: 425
2011 projection: 415 AB, .255 AVG, 40 R, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 9 SB, .295 OBP, .383 SLG, .678 OPS
Notes: The 28-year-old infielder has hit a combined .257 over the last two seasons and a lack of plate discipline (career 4.6 percent walk-rate) has prevented him from becoming a more complete hitter.
- Jose Tabata (LF) Ranked: 148
2011 projection: 560 AB, .288 AVG, 84 R, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 31 SB, .337 OBP, .396 SLG, .734 OPS
Notes: The 22-year-old doesn’t walk much and his power hasn’t materialized, but he should wind up around the National League leaders in steals with a full season of at-bats in 2011.
- Andrew McCutchen (CF) Ranked:52
2011 projection: 585 AB, .292 AVG, 103 R, 18 HR, 68 RBI, 37 SB, .371 OBP, .473 SLG, .845 OPS
Notes: A complete package of talent, 24-year-old has speed, power and a keen batting eye. Playing in Pittsburgh may reduce his name recognition, but McCutchen’s numbers will ensure plenty of National attention in the years to come.
- Matt Diaz (RF) Ranked: 501 / Garrett Jones (RF) Ranked: 399 —platoon
2011 Projections (Diaz): 240 AB, .288 AVG, 28 R, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 5 SB, .329 OBP, .471 SLG, .800 OPS
Notes: Diaz saw his numbers fall drastically across in the board in 2010, but he’s always shown the ability to torch southpaws (career .907 OPS vs. LHP). The 32-year-old will be asked to do just that in Pittsburgh, where he’ll see most of his time in a right-field platoon with Garrett Jones.
2011 projections (Jones): 370 AB, .259 AVG, 45 R, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 3 SB, .322 OBP, .435 SLG, .757 OPS
Notes: The late blooming 29-year-old should still rack up around 350 at-bats, but his overall production is due to take a major hit.
- Ryan Doumit (C/OF) Ranked: 467
2011 projections: 292 AB, .267 AVG, 36 R, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, .318 OBP, .432 SLG, .750 OPS
Notes: Despite the ability to play three positions, Doumit may be the odd man out in Pittsburgh. Doumit a $5 million bench player and likely trade candidate.
- John Bowker (OF) Ranked: 556
2011 projections: 218 AB, .266 AVG, 23 R, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 1 SB, .331 OBP, .431 SLG, .762 OPS
Notes: A July trade to Pittsburgh gave Bowker another chance to establish himself a big league regular. The 27-year-old struggles to hit left-handers and the Pirates starting outfield appears set. Bowker has some power, and he could carve out a decent niche in a part-time role.
- Josh Fields (3B) Ranked: 526
2011 projections: 246 AB, .252 AVG, 26 R, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB, .313 OBP, .390 SLG, .704 OPS
Notes: Fields will attempt to get his career back on track in Pittsburgh after several injury-plagued seasons. He could stick with the big club if his health holds up and rediscover some value as a utility man.
- Josh Rodriguez (SS) Ranked: 787
2011 projections: 159 AB, .252 AVG, 13 R, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB, .328 OBP, .415 SLG, .743 OPS
Notes: Rodriguez has played three in field positions and even some outfield as a pro. That defensive flexibility –along with some offensive ability –could spell a pretty good career as a utility man, staring in ’11.
** MLB.com Fantasy also listed:
- Garrett Atkins (1B) Ranked: 722
2011 projections: 148 AB, .236 AVG, 9 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB, .302 OBP, .351 SLG, .654 OPS
- Steve Pearce (1B) Ranked: 820
2011 projections: 70 SB, .229 AVG, 10 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, .289 OBP, .329 SLG, .618 OPS
- Jeff Clement (1B) Ranked: 786
2011 projections: 92 AB, .239, 13 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB, .300 OBP, .391 SLG, .691 OPS
- Only 10 days until the Pirates pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton, FL. For spring training. On Friday, the buses left for sunny Florida. The seasons almost here! Get Ready!
(Picture via @bucsinsider)
- Neil Walker won’t be spotted in Dallas this weekend for the Superbowl, as he is staying in Pittsburgh for a friends wedding and will watch the game at home with friends and family.
“I’ve been to the last two, so it’s a tough bullet to bite right now,” joked Walker, when asked about his absence in Dallas. “I told my friend [on Tuesday], ‘You know how much I like you since I’m not going to the game.’ He knows.”
Joel Hanrahan might not have been rooting for the Steelers as long as Walker, but he will be wearing a James Harrison jersey at the game on Sunday. Hanrahan’s mind, however, is on still on the bright future of the Pirates.
“Hopefully,” Hanrahan said this week, “they will be asking us for playoff tickets this year.”
- On Thursday, Roberto Clemente’s son, Luis, threw out the first pitch before Puerto Rico’s match up against Mexico during the Caribbean Series.
“My father played in many of those [Caribbean] Series, and to be recognized still today and for us to be invited is a great honor,” Clemente said. “Our family has worked hard to make sure that his legacy is still strong.”
“I suffered a lot with Dad’s death and, eventually, I came to a point in my life where I had the know-how and the contacts to honor my commitment to his memory,” Clemente said. “I see what Dad meant to people, and how he truly was an inspiration to millions of people. I made a promise to his memory and that he would not die in vain. I’m going to keep it.”
Pirates Neil Walker was named the 10th best second baseman right now by MLB Network on Thursday. Here is what the analysts had to say:
Hazel Mae: “Drafted by his hometown Bucs, Neil Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates cracks our list [at number 10]. Quite a MLB debut for Walker. One in which he finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting by posting a .296 average, 12 home runs and 66 RBI’s in 110 total games. Walker also put together a 18 game hitting streak in late August. That .296 average was second amongst all National League second baseman with the minimum of 400 plate appearances. Harold, not sure anyone really expected Walker to be on our list. What do we know about this guy?”
Harold Reynolds: “That’s the funny thing. It is right now. If you look at what he did last year in the little bit of time he had up, he’s got an incredible skill set. That’s why he was the number one pick. He’s got nice range. He can go get a ball in the outfield. He’s a switch hitter. He’s not afraid to get rid of the ball, turn double plays. He seems to be learning how to play the game. He’s kind of lost in Pittsburgh right now. They’re building with a lot of young talent. Had he be in a bigger market, I think a lot of people would have been saying, ‘this Neil Walker kid can play a little bit.’”
Mitch Williams: “When you look at what he’s capable of doing. At the plate, he’s a switch hitter hitting for average. It’s not easy to break into the big leagues and hit for average, being a switch hitter. You’re going to be stronger one way or the other. In 110 games, this kid drove in 66 runs as a second baseman. This is where the game is changing. Back when you were a second baseman [referring to Reynolds], you were a get em’ over guy, a two hole hitter, advance runners, do the little things right and field your position.”
Reynolds: “The thing I like, 87 hits after the all-star break. That means, the second half when everyone started adjusting to him, he made great adjustments. I remember the injury he had on the west coast trip [referring to when Walker and Ryan Church collided during a play] and he was able to come back. This kid is going to put up numbers. He’s a nice player.”
The Pirates are making their mark amongst the best in the game right now. Andrew McCutchen was named the #1 Center Fielder. Pedro Alvarez (third base) and Jose Tabata (left field) did not make the top 10 but did receive honorable mentions.
- MLB Trade rumors believes 2011 is a make or break year for catcher Ryan Doumit. The 29-year-old went from the Pirates everyday catcher in 2008 to a bench, backup catcher role that he is likely to see this season. The Bucs have publicly made it known they were shopping Doumit, but no trade has been made. Since putting up .318 during the 2008 season, Doumit’s has been struggling at both hitting (.250, .251 average’s in 2009 and 2010) and fielding (.987, .990 fielding percentage’s with nine past balls last season and only 12% caught stealing).
MLBTR believes Doumit is a “defensive liability” as an everyday catcher and thinks he is better suited in the American League where he can serve as a backup and occasion designated hitter role.
- During President Frank Coonelly’s live chat on Wednesday, he was asked ‘what is the plan for Jameson Taillon? Will the injury to Stephen Strasburg last year have any impact on his movement through the Minors?’
“No final decision has been made with respect to where Jameson will begin his professional career, but, given what we’ve seen to date, I would expect that Jameson will begin in Charleston, West Virginia, with the Power. The mayor of Charleston attended our caravan stop on Monday and encouraged a commitment that both Taillon and Allie begin their careers in Charleston, but I was only comfortable indicating that was the most likely scenario.”
- The fans are not the only ones itching for the season to begin. Pirates catching prospect Tony Sanchez (TSanchez26) had this to say on Wednesday: “cannot wait to start mashing fastballs again.”
- MLB Network will be airing their ‘Top 10 second baseman right now’ Thursday at 8 PM/ET and Pirates fans should be looking for the Pittsburgh Kid. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review said, “Neil Walker is youngest player voted onto MLB Network’s list of Top 10 second basemen.’
When I asked Biertempfel if he had any idea where in the list he would be ranked, he told me, “Neil Walker is ranked somewhere 6-10, along with Kinsler, Weeks, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson.”
On Tuesday’s edition of Hot Stove on MLB Network, they showcased the Pittsburgh Pirates in part of the 30 Clubs in 30 Recaps.
Here is what the analysts had to say:
“1992 was the last season in which Pittsburgh finished with a winning record. For a once proud franchise the Buccos have become somewhat of a forgotten team in their own city. It also doesn’t help the Penguins won a Stanley cup two years ago, and Sunday, the Steelers can win their third super bowl in six years. We look back at the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates.”
*Video clips through out the season were showed. Garrett Jones two run homerun on opening day, Evan Meek’s first career save (against the Dodgers), Andrew McCutchen’s hot month of May (.327 avg), the rookie debuts of Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez, the 12 straight losses, Alvarez’s walk-off three run homer against the Rockies, notching the 18th consecutive losing season, John Russell getting fired, and the hiring of Clint Hurdle.
Greg Amsinger: “Another rough season in 2010 for the Pirates. Hence all of these changes:”
Pirates Notable transactions this offseason by MLB Network:
RP Joe Beimel
SP Kevin Correia
OF Matt Diaz
3B Josh Fields
SP Scott Olsen
1B Lyle Overbay
SS Cesar Valdez
SP Zach Duke
SP Dana Eveland
RP Chan Ho Park
3B Andy LaRoche
RP Joe Martinez
OF Lastings Milledge
Amsinger: “Zach Duke is gone. He’s not going to be in that rotation. Andy LaRoche is not going to be at third base. Lastings Milledge is still a free agent so who knows where he’ll go. But you see all the additions. The biggest addition though, is the skipper of this club, Clint Hurdle.”
Todd Zeile: “I agree with you 100 percent. Clint, you heard him in the press conference say, ‘It’s got to turn eventually. We’re not going to back down to anybody.’ That’s the kind of mentality Clint Hurdle has. I think he truly believes in it. I think he instills that kind of confidence in his players –especially young players. In 2002, Clint took over for Buddy Bell, when Buddy Bell was fired. We were on the ropes. We had a bunch of veteran guys that he just let play. But at the same time, we had a guy named Juan Uribe, who we saw in the world series last year, this guy was as raw and unfettered as you could find. Clint found a way to get him to hone in his skills, but still let him play and didn’t destroy his confidence. He made sure he knew every time he walked out there, Clint believed in him. I think he’s got that same kind of capability. Look, realistically, they are looking to the future. While they got a lot of kids on that team that have a lot of potential in the future, including Pedro Alvarez. You showed the highlight of him, Alvarez had a really rough start but finished really strong. A guy like Clint I think can help take him to the next level.”
Al Lieter: “I agree. I love Clint. You mentioned about Alvarez, Greg Smith their scouting director, whole new deal there. Neal Huntington a whole lot different from Dave Littlefield, cleaning up the mess. You have a $40 million payroll. I think about all the additions and what is important. I think what is important is your starting rotation. No question about it. I go to what the Padres did last year. You have really nice quality pitchers like the Padres did in [Clayton] Richard, [Mat] Latos, and [Wade] LeBlanc. You have to get something out of your guys and look for the future. You got James McDonald, nice pickup with the Dodgers. Paul Maholm, making a lot of money right now for what he’s bringing in. Ross Ohlendorf was 1-11. You bring in a guy with some innings, that you can bring in a Kevin Correia that can maybe hold over for the future. This is about draft picks, this is about your player development. Everything that goes on from the bottom up, to eventually find that diamond. That’s what I would be sitting on and I look to the Padres. Last year, two teams under $40 million dollars in payroll: both the Pirates and the Padres. It starts with pitching.”
Harold Reynolds: “It does. It actually starts with draft also. I love what Clint Hurdle can bring to the table. You got to be positive with the young guys. You heard me say, ‘You got to play the young talent’. Some of the guys they are bringing in, the draft they had last year. They had two top picks, you get [Jameson] Taillon and you also get [Stetson] Allie, who should have been a number one pick as well. So they get those two guys to get it going in the minor leagues. It starts with pitching. You can move pitching and you can add players with having good pitching. But I love the fact that guys they have in the big leagues already. With [Andrew] McCutchen, I love [Neil] Walker the second baseman, and you look at Alvarez. Those three guys are a great core to start with and you go from there. The Pirates are on up!
Amsinger: “It’s a great sports city. They love the penguins, of course they love the Steelers, if they can get a winning product there for the Pirates they will come fill the most beautiful ball park in the game.”
Pirates Projected Rotation (According to MLB Network)
On Sunday, the three day indoor baseball carnival –known as priatefest– came to a close. Whether it was the excitement for the young Bucs, the bright future, or the love the city of Pittsburgh has for black and yellow, fans flocked the David L. Lawerence convention center this weekend. 16,839 were in attendance –the highest since 2003.
“That was probably my and [general manager] Neal [Huntington's] greatest recruiting tool to get Clint [Hurdle] to come to Pittsburgh — the fans,” Frank Coonelly said at PirateFest this weekend. “This is not just a great sports town. It’s a great Pirates town.”
“These fans are still passionate about what we do,” Neal Huntington said. “As we start to win, they’re going to come out and fill this place, and it’s going to be an electric place to be.”
Ross Ohlendorf, Garrett Jones, Evan Meek, Neil Walker, James McDonald, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton, Brad Lincoln and Paul Maholm were the players that attended this years Piratefest.
Here are some highlights from the Q&A sessions:
- On what career they would peruse if they weren’t a ballplayer: Charlie Morton- Something in music. Andrew McCutchen- I’d be Morton’s producer (Morton is actually a pretty good singer/guitar player. He played at last year’s pirate fest. Click here for videos from it.)
- On Morton’s rebound season in 2011: “I’m excited and I’m ready to move on from last year.”
- When the players were asked who their favorite football team was, Jose Tabata said: “My name is Jose Tabata and I’m from Venezuela and I like black and yellow.”
*Reports during mini camp were that Jose Tabata had bulked up this offseason in hopes to add more power to his bat. They weren’t kidding. I took a close up of Tabata so you could see just how much muscle he packed on.
Here are some highlights from the Management Q&A sessions:
- General Manager Neal Huntington mentioned pitchers Rudy Owens and Daniel Moskos as two prospects that have a good chance to make major league appearances in 2011.
- Clint Hurdle has known left-hander Joel Beimel for 17 years. “He has a heart for the area. He wants to be a part of the group that turns this thing around.”
- On if the Pirates will break the 18-year losing streak in 2011: “I can’t see why not. Why can’t we?” -Clint Hurdle
- On the way Pittsburgh has really embraced Clint Hurdle as the new Manager: “I’m humbled by the reception I’ve gotten. I’m proud to be a Pittsburgh Pirate.”
- On a comparison of the Pirates to the San Diego Padres team from 2010: “They had a winning mentality, we didn’t.” -President Frank Coonelly
- In order to help the Pirates play better on the road, Hurdle said he was going to have the players write down their home vs. road routines in order to adjust the mind set.
Manager Clint Hurdle and Bench Coach Jeff Banister taught a youth baseball clinic on Sunday.
Some highlights during the young camp:
- “I don’t have a world series ring either (referring to when a fan asked if Bench coach Jeff Banister had a World Series ring) I’ve been to the world series three times. Four times a charm. I’ve heard that somewhere.” -Manager Clint Hurdle
- A fan asked Manager Clint Hurdle about Pedro Alvarez’s recent weight game due to Holidays, offseason and recent honeymoon, “I’d be 40 pounds over weight…Pedro’s going to be fine.”
Here are several more pictures from Piratefest:
These are the new 2011 batting pratice jersey’s for the Pirates.
Pirates Double-A Altoona Curve had a station set up for the weekend. Here is the 2010 Eastern League Championship flag.
*On a side note. I was overwhelmed by how many great fans came up to me that said they are a reader of my blog. I can’t thank you guys enough for all the support. I hope to continue covering the Pirates and bringing you all the buzz all season (and offseason) long.
Pirates caravan continued as they traveled to areas such as: Wheeling, WV., Steubenville, OH., and State College, PA. Here are some pictures from day two and three.
James McDonald, Jeff Karstens and Neil Walker made a snowman in Latrobe (via @BucsInsider)
Jose Tabata and Joel Hanrahan signing autographs in Erie, Pennsylvania (via @ErinRagan)
Joel Hanrhan chatting live with The Hound, the Pirates radio affiliate in Ridgway (Via @BucsInsider)
The entire group 3 caravan leg in Altoona with the Curve (Via @BucsInsider)
The Pirate Parrot is a little hesitant to try the wings in Steubenville (Via @BucsInsider) –Perhaps, he is a vegetarian, like me!
Here’s to you: Neil Walker checking out his introductory video here at the Fort Steuben Mall (Via @BucsInsider)
Pirates Caravan kicked off on Monday (be sure to check out the schedule here, to see when the Pirates will be stopping near you).
There are three groups this year.
Group one: Andrew McCutchen, Evan Meek, Ross Ohlendorf, third base coach Nick Leyva and broadcasters Bob Walk and John Wehner.
Group two: pitching coach Ray Searage, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Neil Walker and broadcaster Tim Neverett.
Group three: bench coach Jeff Banister, Garrett Jones, Joel Hanrahan, Jose Tabata and broadcaster Greg Brown.
Here are several pictures from day one of the Caravan:
James McDonald and Jeff Karstens chat with a fan who has been collecting autographs since 1944 (Via @BucsInsider).
Joel Hanrahan and Garrett Jones sign autographs from fans (Via @BucsInsider).
Neil Walker talking baseball in Morgantown, West Virgina (Via @BusInsider).
Evan Meek signs autographs on day one of the winter caravan (Via @RobBiertempfel).
Pirates beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answered questions in this weeks inbox where she discussed the search for lefty bullpen help, contract extension with Neil Walker and more (You can read the entire transcript here).
- When Hurdle took over as manager, he said he felt we needed a couple of left-handers in the bullpen. Do you see any left-handers on the horizon other than Scott Olsen?
Assuming that Olsen remains in a starting role, the Pirates do lack proven left-handed options in the bullpen. Lefties Justin Thomas and Brian Burres both signed Minor League deals with the club and could be possibilities for the bullpen. Internal options include Tony Watson and Daniel Moskos, though neither has any previous Major League experience.
The Pirates continue to scour the market to see if there are other left-handed options available, and don’t be surprised if some additions are made in the next few weeks. It would be a substantial risk to begin the season without a reliable left-handed option, even if management insists that it doesn’t see a strong benefit in having a lefty specialist.
- Is there any chance that both Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo make the team out of Spring Training? The Pirates have already said that they are going to play Doumit more than just as a backup catcher, so could we carry three catchers into the season?
Yes, I believe there is a chance that the Pirates will carry a third catcher this season, though such a decision has not yet been made. As you mentioned, the Pirates’ plans for Doumit are not to plug him solely into a backup role. In order to have the flexibility to liberally insert Doumit in as an outfielder, first baseman or pinch-hitter, the Pirates would need to have a third catcher available in case of an emergency.
This decision is certainly one to keep an eye on as the makeup of the bench comes into better focus during Spring Training. It will also be intriguing to see how Doumit’s new role develops, and how he handles the decrease in playing time.
- With all the talk about the fifth spot in the rotation going to Olsen and Brad Lincoln, is there a chance that Rudy Owens could be rewarded with the job instead?
It’s unlikely that Owens will make the jump from Double-A to the Majors without first stopping in Triple-A to begin the 2011 season. This will be Owens’ first taste of big league camp, and he will technically be competing for a rotation spot with the Pirates as camp gets under way. However, I just don’t see the Pirates slotting Owens into the rotation on Opening Day no matter how well he pitches this spring.
I’d project that Owens will start the year in Indianapolis, and it is certainly possible that you could see him in Pittsburgh sometime midseason. That will depend on how the rotation is faring at the Major League level and how Owens continues to develop in the Minors. I will say that, from a selfish standpoint, I’m looking forward to getting my first look at Owens in person this spring. The numbers that he has put up over the last two seasons are sensational, and he is a left-hander to get excited about.
And as you mention possible fifth starter candidates, don’t forget about Charlie Morton. He, along with Olsen and Lincoln, seem the three likeliest options.
- Neil Walker was great last year and, in my opinion, was one of the bright spots for the Pirates last season. Do you see the Pirates signing him long-term?
While there is definitely reason to be excited about Walker’s potential, it is too early to begin talking about a long-term contract for the former first-round Draft pick. The reality is that Walker has had just four months of success at the Major League level. That’s not to say that his 2010 success was a fluke. It’s just to point out that Walker must consistently produce for another few seasons before the Pirates would feel comfortable offering multi-millions his way.