Pirates Stocking Up On Corner Players

Earlier today Vlad noticed that the Pirates just signed first baseman and former Nationals prospect Larry Broadway (who, just in case you saw the name and got a little confused, isn't the same person as White Sox pitcher Lance Broadway). Obviously, this move isn't any kind of a big deal and Broadway is highly unlikely to play for the Bucs, but it clouds the situation at Indianapolis. Here are all the players the Pirates have who are likely to play first or outfield (I've included centerfielders too, because they're tough to separate from corner guys) for the Bucs at Pittsburgh or Indianapolis this year:

PLAYER POSITION(S) LIKELY ROLE NOTES
Brandon Moss OF Pirates starting corner OF Job relatively secure
Nate McLouth CF/OF Pirates starting CF Obviously will start somewhere, but could move to corner if McCutchen emerges
Nyjer Morgan OF/CF Pirates starting corner OF? Job may not be secure
Adam LaRoche 1B Pirates starting 1B FA after 2009
Eric Hinske OF/1B/3B Pirates bench Insurance against struggles by Andy LaRoche, Morgan or Moss
Andy Phillips OF/1B/3B Pirates bench? Minor league slugger may wind up in majors or AAA
Jeff Salazar OF/CF Pirates bench? Good hitting relative to Morgan and fielding relative to Hinske would make Salazar a great option as the Pirates' fifth outfielder. Indianapolis also a possible destination
Andrew McCutchen CF Indianapolis starting CF Could probably use another month or two at AAA but should join Pirates soon
Steve Pearce OF/1B Indianapolis starting OF The Pirates have said they want Pearce to play every day at Indianapolis
Craig Monroe OF Indianapolis OF Markedly worse than Salazar, but will probably get look as Pirates bench OF
Jose Tabata OF Indianapolis OF? If Bucs send him to Indianapolis rather than Altoona, he obviously needs to play every day
Brad Corley OF Indianapolis OF? Former 2nd round pick's strike zone judgment is so bad he probably struggles to avoid swinging at pickoff throws to first. Altoona also possible
Jason Delaney 1B/OF Indianapolis 1B? Only played 1B last year and is probably just a hair too interesting to give up on completely
Garrett Jones 1B/OF Indianapolis 1B? Interesting lefty option at Indy
Larry Broadway 1B/OF? Indianapolis 1B? Eight career minor league games in OF. Older and probably a lesser hitter than Jones
Adam Boeve OF/1B Indianapolis OF? Not a prospect, but reliably decent hitter in AAA
Ryan Mulhern 1B Indianapolis bench? Former Cleveland prospect now an organizational player

As you can see, this is a ton of players for a limited amount of playing time, particularly at Indianapolis. Jamie Romak could also cloud the picture further with a strong start at Altoona. These players will therefore be interesting to keep track of in Spring Training. A few of them, like Monroe, could have out clauses in their contracts that allow them to become free agents if they don't make the team. Some, like Broadway or Boeve, could be sent to Altoona. It will be interesting to see where Tabata is assigned, also. 

The proliferation of minor league options may mean the Pirates want to hedge their bets against potentially weak starting options like Morgan, Moss or (to a lesser extent) Andy LaRoche. Also, note that Adam LaRoche becomes a free agent after 2009, and I don't think the Pirates will try to sign him to a long-term deal, so he could depart in a trade at midseason. In that case, the Pirates might promote Hinske or Pearce to a starting role. 

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