Interesting tidbit in the Post-Gazette today:
Looks like Rule 5 pick John Raynor will be in a one-on-one battle with Brandon Moss for reserve outfield duty this spring. Locked into the bench for now are Jason Jaramillo, Ramon Vazquez, Bobby Crosby and Delwyn Young. That leaves room for one outfielder, preferably one capable of backing up in center. And Raynor might be better there than Moss.
Unlike Dejan Kovacevic, I can only speculate on what will happen, but what should happen here? Vazquez is vaguely useful in that, you know, he can play a bunch of infield positions and isn't Brian Bixler, but Vazquez hit a sub-Bloomquistian .230/.335/.279 last year, making 2009 the fourth season in the past six in which he failed to top a .620 OPS. I mostly admire Vazquez's patient approach at the plate, but that's really all he had in 2009--he looked like was praying for pitchers to accidentally walk him. I liked the Vazquez signing when it happened, but his strong 2008 campaign with the Rangers now looks very fluky. With Bobby Crosby in the fold, there doesn't seem to be any reason to break camp with another utility infielder, especially since Young can also sort of play second.
There are probably five bench spots available, and one probably will go to a catcher, and another to someone who can play shortstop. Jaramillo, Crosby and Young look very likely to make the bench, at this point. Maybe Kovacevic knows something I don't, but if I were in charge, it wouldn't be particularly likely that Vazquez would make the team next year. Assuming for now that Jeff Clement starts at first base and Garrett Jones is in right field, Moss isn't an ideal fit for the bench because he's left-handed like both of those guys. But Moss is out of options, can remain under team control for several more years if he sticks, and (despite his terrible 2009) has some prayer of hitting in 2010. There's really no upside in keeping Vazquez, except as insurance in case Crosby or Ronny Cedeno gets hurt or doesn't make the team. And even leaving Moss aside for a second, I'd probably rather keep Raynor and Steve Pearce as the last two bench guys than give a spot to Vazquez.
Of course, worrying about the Pirates careers of Vazquez and (probably) Moss is a deck chairs / Titanic situation. If Pedro Alvarez comes up, Vazquez will be gone, and if Jose Tabata comes up or the Pirates acquire another corner player, Moss will probably be gone. In the meantime, though, I think he could be a pretty decent bench outfielder--I think he's a bit better as a hitter than he showed in 2009, and his defense is good. It would be nice to stick with him for a couple more months before dumping him completely.