2007 Pittsburgh Pirates

Next up in the team outlooks, the Pirates.  Click here to view all the team outlooks.

Dave Littlefield’s contract obligations:

C – Ronny Paulino – $0.38MM
C – Humberto Cota – $0.537MM
1B – Adam LaRoche – $3.2MM
2B – Freddy Sanchez – $2.75MM
SS – Jack Wilson – $5.25MM
3B – Jose Castillo – $1.9MM
IF/C – Ryan Doumit – $0.38MM
IF – Jose Bautista – $0.38MM
LF – Jason Bay – $3.25MM
CF – Chris Duffy – $0.38MM
RF – Xavier Nady – $2.15MM (stomach pain)
OF – Luis Matos – $0.38MM
IF/OF – Jose Hernandez – $0.38MM

SP – Zach Duke – $0.38MM
SP – Ian Snell – $0.38MM
SP – Paul Maholm – $0.38MM
SP – Tom Gorzelanny – $0.38MM
SP – Tony Armas Jr. – $3.5MM

RP – Salomon Torres – $2.6MM
RP – Damaso Marte – $2.45MM
RP – John Grabow – $0.8325MM
RP – Jonah Bayliss – $0.38MM
RP – Matt Capps – $0.38MM
RP – Dan Kolb – $1.25MM
RP – Shawn Chacon – $3.825MM

RF – Jody Gerut – $0.85MM
OF – Nate McLouth – $0.38MM
RP – Shane Youman – $0.38MM
RP – Josh Sharpless – $0.38MM

There’s the Opening Day roster as I see it, with a huge assist from Jake at Bucco Blog.  Some things could definitely play out differently.  We still don’t know the cause of Nady’s stomach problems, and if he misses time then McLouth and Matos can both make the club.  Even if he doesn’t McLouth can still beat out Matos.  The fifth starter job could go to Chacon or Armas; I feel like Armas has the edge right now.  An injury to a kid could make it a moot point.  And some combo of Youman and Sharpless could be in the pen instead of Kolb and Bayliss.

Anyway, the payroll looks to be in the $40MM range, with maybe another $5MM going to buyouts and some players not listed.  If the Bucs find themselves in a magical season, one player away, I think they have the payroll flexibility to add a $10MM guy via trade.  They could import a difference-maker like Ichiro or Carlos Guillen.

It looks like Sanchez will play second base, if for no other reason than Wilson won’t play alongside Castillo.  Castillo will try to win the third base job and wait to see if Wilson can be dealt.

LaRoche was a big-time addition, and a move I liked.  LaRoche, Bay, and Sanchez may be the only regulars providing above average offense.  Paulino and Duffy could join that group, but I don’t think anyone can really say that with any certainty right now.

It follows that this club will have to rely on its starting pitching to win. If all four kids stay healthy and show typical growth, it could be a damn good and affordable staff.  Contact guys like Duke and Maholm can post nice ERAs if they get good defense behind them.

The starters may need to go deep into the games, as the pen was weakened by the trade of Mike Gonzalez.  Without getting too deep in the numbers, the 2007 bullpen for this team looks subpar.  On the other hand, relievers are quite volatile. 

I can only see starting pitching as a clear strength for this club.  Well, that and a lack of huge contracts.  The team could make a run for the division but probably won’t; they should focus on keeping the young starters healthy.  Andrew McCutchen could add some star power in ’08, and the Bucs could selectively purchase some free agents heading into that season.

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