Monday, August 31, 2009

Pirate Call Ups

The September Call ups for baseball are upon us. Usually it is a time for losing teams to get a glimpse of next year, but not so this year with the Pirates. The reason appears to be the current try-outs they have going on at the Major League Level. Primarily Lastings Milledge as well as Andy LaRoche and Steve Pierce. Charlie Morton pitching may also be trying out for the future.

The Pirates have only announced that they are calling up pitcher Daniel McCutchen, who will be starting on Sunday, and recent trade aquisition Jeff Clement. It is also known that the Pirates will also bring back Donnie Veal from the DL at that time as well. He is a Rule 5 pitcher who cannot go to the minors without the Pirates losing rights to him. One can also assume that if Jeff Karstens is able to get off the DL he will also return to the major league team. The other players one can only speculate at this time.

What we do know is who you are not going to see. You will not see Jose Tabata, who will be in the Arizona Fall League this year. You will not see Pedro Alvarez, which basically assures he will start off next year in Triple A. You will not see Brad Lincoln as a pitcher. These three guys have the potential to have a huge impact on next year's team although all three may start off in Triple A.

The only other players you are likely to see in Pittsburgh are Robinson Diaz, who filled in nicely while Doumit was hurt, and a few pitchers. Jose Ascino will probably get a call up, and maybe one or two more pitchers to help out in the pen. Virgil Vasquez, Jeff Suez, and Jon Meloan are the nominees. However, they will not all come and it is possible that none of them will come. The only real hope is that Neil Walker, the long expected Third baseman might get a call up. He had another lack luster year at Triple A, but is on a massive hot streak right now.

So Pirate fans will have to watch Jeff Clement as the only call up with a future for the Pirates. How well he does these last few weeks will determine whether he heads into the off season with the first base job or whether Steve Pierce is able to hold on to it. Milledge is improving at the big league level, but will he be able to hold off Jose Tabata for a starting spot in next years outfield? The Pirates are going to give him every plate appearance they can to judge him. Andy LaRoche too is on a ticker. Alvarez will probably follow the path of Andrew McCutchen. He will be ready right out of spring training, but will play Triple A for a few months to get his confidence high and maybe allow the Pirates to work a trade. This does not mean LaRoche is done in Pittsburgh. His glove has impressed, and a move to second could be in his future. How he hits in the next few weeks will impact their thinking on that one. As well as how Neil Walker plays if he is on the team. Neil could be the back up third baseman since he has more power than Andy.

Even the bullpen is not going to be the same next year. Dumatrait will probably get some starts down the stretch, which could be interesting. Expect Veal and Ascino to be in Triple A next year trying to make it as starters. Daniel McCutchen will be fighitng for the two open starter positions. So will Dumatrait. I guess since we are talking about Morton is fighting for one of those spots as well. Anyone else the Pirates bring up might have an outside shot at making next year's bullpen, but it will be an outside shot.

I guess in the end I am worried about whether the Pirate management is going to play to win next year. They have the talent in the organization now (with the exception of the pen) to make a push for at least an NL Central Title. I am just afraid they are going to stick it all in Triple A until it is too late.


Jay said...

I guarantee that Pirates management isn't playing to win next year. They have several good reasons: (1) the people you mention aren't ready (Alvarez, for example, is playing terrible defense); (2) rushing people to the big leagues can cause serious setbacks in their development; and (3) even if those people were ready, the Pirates need more talent to contend--just set their projected starters against the Cards or Cubs and you will see that the Pirates are lacking in several departments. Patience. Re-building a team from Ground Zero is a long process. Let's hope the Pirates are at least on the right track this time.