Here's a column in which, in the absence of actual news, I take a look at the Pirates' performance the last few weeks and try to determine what it means, and whose stock is increasing or decreasing. These are based on Spring Training stats, so keep that in mind. I have a hard time writing about Spring Training without just throwing up my hands, so keep that in mind, too.
Brad Eldred, .394/.487/.848 in Spring Training. Still in need of power despite the addition of Adam LaRoche, the Pirates and their fans want badly to believe that Eldred can hit. He probably can't, at least not especially well, but with an .848 slugging percentage and six walks so far this spring, he's done nothing to prove that. The Bucs have even tried him in the outfield this spring in the hopes of increasing his versatility so that he can be used as a bench player; that's probably not going to work out too well either, but it's fun to dream, and if it helps Eldred make the team instead of, say, Jose Hernandez, then I'm all for it.
Andrew McCutchen, .343/.395/.486. Both the fans' and the organization's opinions of McCutchen were already stratospheric, and nothing about what he's done so far will change that. He'll probably start the season at Altoona, but don't be surprised if he isn't there long.
Brian Bixler, .375/.444/.594. Bixler probably isn't going to end up hitting quite enough to be a good starter in the big leagues, but with a performance like this, the Bucs' middle infield situation in flux and Brent Lillibridge out of the way, Bixler could end up becoming one soon anyway.
Luis Matos, .321/.387/.571. Chris Duffy is struggling, the Bucs want a right-handed reserve outfielder, and Rajai Davis was sent down in just the second round of cuts. All this bodes well for Matos, who can probably count on getting a fair amount of playing time in Pittsburgh this year.
Chris Duffy, .200/.200/.233. Duffy had a lot of detractors before camp opened, and his spring performance isn't going to silence them. The organization seems more concerned about his situational hitting than his actual hitting, which may make the traditionalists happy but is unlikely to help the Pirates win ballgames. Not so fun fact: Duffy hasn't drawn a walk yet this spring.
Jose Castillo, .269/.269/.346. Not only is Castillo given a very Castillo-like offensive performance this spring, but he's been playing mostly at third, which isn't a huge surprise but still bodes very, very badly for his career. He's never going to hit enough to be a starter at third, and if he can't handle the middle infield, he can't be much of a utilityman either. Castillo will probably be out of baseball in a few years. He does look skinnier than he looked last year, which is a welcome indication that he's finally taking himself seriously.
Tom Gorzelanny, 10.1 IP, 10.45 ERA, 6 K, 6 BB. Gorzelanny's poor performance has generated whispers that he might be injured and even raised questions about whether his place in the rotation might be up for grabs. Well, he probably isn't injured, and his decent last start against the Devil Rays inspires some confidence, but this still isn't the kind of spring you'd hope a talented young starter would have.
Brad Lincoln. His camp didn't even happen because of elbow trouble. Ugh. He should soon begin a throwing program. Baseball Prospectus' latest annual repeatedly blasts the Bucs for drafting Lincoln and ranks at least eight 2006 draftees ahead of Lincoln on its Top 100 Prospects list - and the book went to press before Lincoln's injury was reported.
Don Kelly and Mike Ryan. They're making the most of their Spring Training and they have local connections, but neither of these guys have any business being on a big-league team, and even the Pirates know that. All that their hitting is going to get them is a couple extra weeks in camp. It is, however, interesting that they lead the Pirates in at-bats right now (although it appears Eldred leads the team in plate appearances).