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Pirates Face 40-Man Roster Decisions This Week

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40-man rosters have to be set by Friday, so expect some fun stuff to happen this week.

The Bucs currently have 36 players on their 40-man roster. That doesn't include Jose Ascanio and Evan Meek, who will both need to be protected by Friday. The Pirates will also have to decide whether to include a number of minor leaguers, any of whom could be selected in the Rule 5 draft in December if they aren't protected:

Brad Lincoln, Gorkys Hernandez, Bryan Morris, Ramon Aguero, Casey Erickson, Michael Dubee, Shelby Ford, Jim Negrych, Kris Watts

Of these, I'd say Lincoln and Hernandez are no-brainers.

Morris is a tricky case; scouts like him a lot and the Pirates certainly paid a pretty penny to get him, but the performance record so far hasn't been there, and it's very hard to see how he could stick on another team's 25-man roster for the entire year.

WTM is a big fan of Aguero, a reliever who spent time with West Virginia, Lynchburg and Altoona last year. Aguero had a nice season in 2009 and has followed that up with a good showing in the Dominican Winter League, but I'm agnostic here. He's almost 25, so he's not a great prospect. Every year the Pirates protect these sorts of marginal pitchers, mostly relievers--Jeff Sues, Dave Davidson, Romulo Sanchez, Luis Munoz, Olivo Astacio, Ronald Belisario, and so on--and never do they seem to get anything out of them. (Ok, Astacio was released because of behavioral issues, and Belisario blossomed with the Dodgers, but still.) The problem with Aguero is that he'd be easier than Morris to hide on a big-league roster for a year, and because he played well this year and has good stuff, there would be reason for a team who selected him to hope he wouldn't end up hurting them too badly. I'd probably protect him, but I don't think we should expect much from him in the long haul.

The other guys, though at least vaguely intriguing, can probably be left off. Erickson is too far from the majors, Dubee doesn't have great stuff, and Ford and Negrych haven't shown enough in the minors. (Negrych might have some vague chance of being taken in the Rule 5 and used as a bench bat.) Watts is only a nominal prospect because he's a catcher.

So let's say three spots will be needed for Lincoln, Hernandez and Aguero, and possibly a fourth for Morris. The Pirates would probably also prefer to leave one spot for their own Rule 5 pick, although they can also dump someone later to make room. 

All this means that probably a couple of players will be dumped from the roster this week. Of those, Sues, Anthony Claggett, Justin Thomas, Brian Bixler, and Luis Cruz would all be potential candidates.