Spring training is upon us, and Opening Day is just over a month away. It is a season of renewed hope for the 29 teams who went home without hoisting the World Series trophy at the end of last season. While the statheads and geeks such as myself are poring over last year’s numbers looking at potential sleepers for fantasy baseball, the real athletes are out on the field, taking their batting and fielding practice and getting ready for the new season.
The 30/30 Club will look at all 30 major league clubs over the next 30 days. Some teams have made moves to make a run for this year’s World Series title, while other teams have positioned themselves for the long run by moving their veteran stars to get younger. The first team being previewed in the 30/30 Club is one of the latter teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
2017 Record: 75-87, 4th in the National League Central
Acquisitions: 3B Colin Moran (trade with HOU), SP Joe Musgrove (trade with HOU), SP Kyle Crick (trade with SF), OF Daniel Nava (minors – invite to ST), OF Bryce Brentz (trade with BOS)
Departures: SP Gerrit Cole (trade with HOU), OF Andrew McCutchen (trade with SF), RP Joaquin Benoit (free agency), OF John Jaso (free agency), C Chris Stewart (free agency)
CF Starling Marte
RF Gregory Polanco
2B Josh Harrison
1B Josh Bell
SS Jordy Mercer
3B Colin Moran/David Freese
LF Adam Frazier
C Francisco Cervelli
SP Jameson Taillon
SP Ivan Nova
SP Joe Musgrove
SP Chad Kuhl
SP Trevor Williams/Steven Brault/Tyler Glasnow
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a couple of positions that look like there could be a battle for playing time. At third base, the Pirates have incumbent David Freese and rookie acquisition Colin Moran battling it out, with Moran currently slotted into the role. The Pirates expect to use Josh Sean Rodriguez in a role like the one he played in 2016 for the team when he played all over the field and managed to play in 140 games for the team. His role could be less defined, however, after an injury-riddled 2017 season in which he hit just .167 in 132 at bats. The battle for the final rotation spot will come down to second-year starter Trevor Williams (25 starts, 4.07 ERA in 2017), Steven Brault (4.67 ERA in 11 appearances – 4 starts), and former top prospect Tyler Glasnow (7.69 ERA in 13 starts). Based off the 2017 numbers, Williams would have to be considered the strong favorite to win the job, but if Glasnow has figured out why his minor league stats haven’t translated to the majors, he could make a push for that final rotation spot.
The 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates look like a team that will take another step back in 2018. The team struggled in 2017 to get any momentum after making three straight playoff appearances in 2014-2016 and reached a point where the organization felt it was time to rebuild. They traded away ace Gerrit Cole to Houston, getting young starter Joe Musgrove and third baseman Colin Moran, and the face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen was dealt to the Giants for RP Kyle Crick and prospects. It is going to be a long season on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh in 2018, as the fans will be eagerly awaiting football season.