BRADENTON FL - FEBRUARY 20: Infielder Josh Rodriguez #7 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 20 2011 in Bradenton Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Signs indicate #Pirates will KEEP Rule 5 pick Rodriguez, send [Pedro] Ciriaco back to AAA
That means it appears Josh Rodriguez is in. Cool! It has looked for a couple of weeks like Ciriaco would make the team, but maybe not. In the abstract, I don't have any problem with Ciriaco as a backup major-league infielder - it's always helpful to have a guy with a good glove at shortstop. And he'll be back eventually. But right now, the Pirates can't keep both Josh Rodriguez (a Rule 5 pick) and John Bowker (who is out of options) in the organization if they start the season with Ciriaco and Steve Pearce on the bench. If they send Ciriaco back for now, they get to keep both players, which seems like the sensible move to me. Assuming the Pirates don't go with three catchers - and the news that Chris Snyder's back feels better decreases the chances that they will - they can now keep Rodriguez and Bowker, which would be excellent. Also, they'll still have Pearce in the majors.
A bench of Ryan Doumit, Matt Diaz, Rodriguez, Bowker and Pearce is light on good defenders, but it's probably the best alignment in the organization in terms of offensive ability. It also keeps potentially decent players like Rodriguez and Bowker in the organization. I like it a lot. It's also the exact bench I predicted back in January, although, at the time, some of that seemed like wishful thinking on my part. And I shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch - this whole thing could still go down the tubes if Snyder isn't ready to go or if the team decides to go with Ciriaco after all.