With players reporting to Spring Training approaching, teams will begin to evaluate the talent that they have and attempt to build on last year’s successes and failures. Just like any other team, the Pittsburgh Pirates are not without their share of issues, but it could be argued that there are three glaring discrepancies for the ball club to address in Bradenton.
Who is going to play first base?
I feel like Billy Beane’s scouts in Moneyball every time I bring this up, but for me, the biggest issue is the first base position for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and more specifically who is going to play it. While I envision another season of a revolving door at the position, Rowdy Tellez is listed as the starter on the Pirates’ depth chart. Tellez is 28 years old and should be in his athletic prime, but at 275 pounds, his output is as questionable as his weight. There could be some pop from him, but his consistency can be an issue. We could see him get 35 home runs, we could see him barely rake in 10, time will tell. Connor Joe could have a handful of appearances as well, but this is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed and should be an active conversation all year but certainly in spring ball.
The Pirates front office after they saved $2M signing Rowdy Tellez instead of Carlos Santana: pic.twitter.com/x7tcXC7AjT— Nick Cammuso (@npc210) February 3, 2024
Who (if anyone) will emerge from the rotation?
Pittsburgh’s pitchers have been the subject of conversation for some time now, and I want to be optimistic. A majority of our top prospects are pitchers, which is encouraging to see, but we need to see some production from the guys already on the team. Mitch Keller has proven he is an All-Star, and has shown the ability to win big games, albeit in small doses. Keller has shown that he is maybe not one of the elite, as he is typically not going to be a guy that can carry a team when it is demanded of him, forcing the hand of the club to find a decent running mate. Quinn Priester was a highly touted prospect but struggled with the promotion, while JT Brubaker was sidelined all of last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Spring Training will be a great proving ground for guys like Paul Skenes and Jared Jones, as they may be getting the call to Pittsburgh sooner rather than later.
What will the Pirates get out of Henry Davis?
For better or for worst, Endy Rodriguez looked like a lock to be the team’s starting catcher for 2024. After suffering an injury in the Dominican Winter League, Rodriguez is set to be sidelined for the entirety of the season, and the team has made it clear that they want and need Henry Davis to be their full time catcher. Obviously this is no easy task, as Davis has not yet started a game at catcher, but rather played mostly in right field. Throughout his career in the Minors, Davis struggled with injuries, so it’s fair to say that this could also be the case under the weight of a full Major League season. In the event that Davis cannot play, Jason Delay most likely will, but this the chance of a lifetime for Davis if he doesn't want to be exiled back to the corner of the outfield. When healthy, there have been signs of the pop he brings to the batter’s box and his athletic prowess shining through, but catcher is not something ANYONE can just jump into. Hopefully by the time Spring Training concludes, the team will have Davis in great shape to take on this mammoth task.
Other things will certainly need to be addressed, but those are just three of the several questions that need answered from 2024’s Pittsburgh ball club. Be sure to comment what you think stands out for the Pirates in Spring Training.
Which of these do you think is the biggest concern?
This poll is closed
Who will play first base
Catcher - Henry Davis and beyond