The 2012 regular season is in the books. With many months bereft of baseball in front of us we are now left to speculate and discuss the 2013 Pirates. How can they improve upon the 79 wins they limped to in 2012.
A number of questions lie ahead. Among them, will the Pirates really bring Rod Barajas back for another go-around? Barajas has already offered to return for a lower salary. Outside of the Pirates' organization -- which has insisted that Barajas has value despite his .625 OPS, 8% CS, and -1 WAR -- there's pretty much a universal hope that despite Barjas aforementioned willingness to offer his services at a 'discount' the Bucs send him packing.
The 2013 Free Agent Class hardly offers the potential for sizable upgrade (unless you like Yorvit Torrealba as a candidate for a career year at 34). But there is some potential for a marginal upgrade of perhaps a win or two. A option (certainly not the option) would be former Pirate and major league journeyman, David Ross.
Over the last four years Ross has put WAR totals of 1.9, 1.6., 1.4, and 1.5. He's done so while making no more than 196 plate appearances but no less than 145. If you're a WAR literalist had David Ross played for the Bucs this year they very well may have enjoyed their first winning season in 20 years. Of particular interest to Pirates fans, who suffered the opponent stealing nearly at will in 2012, Ross had a CS% of 44 (his counterpart Brian McCann came in at 24%). If you're uncertain how to apportion credit for that stat: Ross's career % is for what it's worth, 39.
Ross is in fact not much younger than Barajas (he turns 36 in March) but there doesn't appear to be an overt downward trend in performance. Tony Sanchez is no guarantee to earn any MLB playing time. There are perhaps some trade options I'm not considering but save those it seems to me that a Ross/McKenry platoon could be functional for the 2013 season and certainly an upgrade from Barajas/McKenry.
Curious to hear everyone's thoughts as to better options.