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Huntington: John Raynor "In Front Of" Brandon Moss

Someone once observed that political gaffes are most damaging when they confirm a candidate's existing reputation. Howard Dean's scream was damaging because, to some people, it confirmed his reputation as a loose cannon; Dan Quayle misspelling of the word "potato" was damaging because to some people it confirmed that he wasn't particularly bright. If a gaffe doesn't fit the narrative about a candidate, it's considerably less damaging.

Spring Training statistics are like that. They don't matter much unless they confirm what we already thought. If Paul Maholm or Ross Ohlendorf had failed to throw strikes throughout Spring Training, it would have been no big deal; we'd just chalk that up to Spring Training being Spring Training, and assume Maholm or Ohlendorf would iron out his troubles by the start of the season. But when Kevin Hart did it, well, that was a different story. 

Now Brandon Moss is 2-for-29 in Spring Training. It's actually not terribly unusual for a player to hit that badly, and if Ryan Doumit had done it no one would care, but we already suspect that Moss can't really hit, so that's a big problem for him. That's the main reason it appears that Rule 5 pick John Raynor has passed him on the depth chart:

"As we're sitting here today, John Raynor obviously has put himself in front of Brandon Moss," Huntington said Wednesday morning. "We still have time left in spring training. As we've said from the get-go, it's a competition that won't be based on pure statistics. But John's had a good camp to date, and Brandon's struggled."

The Pirates stand to lose either player if they don't make the team--Raynor would have to be offered back to the Marlins, and Moss is out of options. There is a chance, though, that the Pirates could carry both for a while, particularly if they elect to go with a short bullpen for the first couple weeks of the season. Joel Hanrahan will begin the year on the DL anyway, and there are a bunch of off days in April.