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Preparing For The Roster Crunch

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It was great that the Pirates finally won last night, but the most striking thing about the game was the beaning Andrew McCutchen took. It's never fun to see your team's star player lying on the ground with his eyes closed after appearing to be hit in the head. For the first couple minutes, I couldn't even tell if he was conscious. Fortunately, he's fine.

-P- Pirates Prospects (formerly BUCCO Fans) notes that the Pirates are going to face quite a roster crunch this offseason. They have a ton of players (Jeff Clement, Steve Pearce, James McDonald, Delwyn Young, John Bowker, Charlie Morton, Kevin Hart, Sean Gallagher, Jose Ascanio) who are unproven and are out of options, and yet are interesting in one way or another. Then there are a bunch of prospects the Pirates could lose in the Rule 5 draft if they don't protect, including Starling Marte, Nathan Adcock, Jeff Locke, Rudy Owens, Alex Presley, Diego Moreno and Danny Moskos.

Bowker recently said that Neal Huntington told him the Pirates didn't yet have a plan for Bowker, and looking ahead, you can see that Huntington wasn't kidding. He probably was just surprised to be offered so much for Javier Lopez and took the deal before worrying about what he would do with what he got. Bowker, in particular, plays first base and outfield. The Pirates already have three pretty good outfielders in McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Lastings Milledge, and they have Ryan Doumit ready to take some starts there as well. Also, they have Alex Presley charging through the minors. At first, Jones could use a platoon partner, but both he and Bowker are lefties, so Bowker can't help there. On top of that, they have Doumit again, plus Clement and Pearce who, like Bowker, will be out of options next year. Anyone care to explain to me how, barring about 18 injuries, Bowker ever finds more than a handful of at bats with the Pirates?

It looks to me like Pearce probably won't be a Pirate come mid-April, and Clement, Bowker and/or Doumit might not be either. It also looks like our offseason will be dominated by these sorts of questions, and the Pirates could end up losing a player or two in the Rule 5 draft. This sort of depth is great to have, but the question now will be deciding who's important. With many starting spots at the major league level now more or less set, that won't be easy.