September 7, 2010

Pirates Call Up Eight Players

The Pirates called up virtually a whole new team today with eight men joining the active roster. The most interesting is Alex Presley, a lefthanded hitting outfielder who hit .320/.373/.494 between Altoona and Indianapolis. This was a breakout season as Presley really hadn't shown much at all prior to this year. Every team needs a lefthanded bench bat, so Presley is a candidate for a major league job in 2011.

Old friend Brandon Moss returns as well after a good year at Indianapolis which saw him hit .266/.330/.470 with 22 home runs and 96 RBI. His RBI numbers prompted many to call for an earlier recall, but as I've written before nothing in his profile suggests an ability to hit at the MLB level. His recent AAA numbers simply don't translate into anything positive in the major leagues.

Pedro Ciriaco is a 24-year-old righthanded hitting infielder who just came over from Arizona in the Chris Snyder trade. He's a speed and defense guy with virtually no ability to get on base - he hit .265/.281/.38 between two AAA teams this year. He's also stolen 97 bases over the past three seasons and been caught only 23 times in that span.

Jason Jaramillo has already played 91 games with the Pirates so we know what we're getting here. After hitting only .148/.222/.210 in Pittsburgh this year he was sent down to Indianapolis where he hit .239/.281/.307. Those numbers virtually guarantee he won't have an MLB job next season, but his presence on the roster allows Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit to pinch hit early in games when they aren't catching.

Rounding out the pitching staff are Brian Bass, Stephen Jackson, Brad Lincoln and Justin Thomas. Unfortunately all of these guys proved earlier in 2011 that they are just too hittable to be very good. These guys are basically warm bodies who can eat innings in blowouts - which there will certainly be more of.

Designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster were Akinori Iwamura and Erik Kratz. Iwamura showed the ability to walk and do little else as he hit .182/.292/.267 at Pittsburgh. At Indianapolis he hit .264/.404/.393 but a call-up was never really considered as management was justifiably disappointed with Aki showing up to training camp out of shape. He'll be lucky to get a nonroster invitation to some team's spring training next year.

Kratz had a career year as he hit .274/.380/.496 at Indianapolis and got into nine games at the major league level before he was sent down to make room for Chris Snyder. Catchers can play forever in the high minors so his major league debut at age 30 made for a nice story. He threw out four of seven baserunners in Pittsburgh.

With the earlier call-ups of outfielder John Bowker and pitcher Joe Martinez the Pirates now have 35 men on the roster - an astounding total for a noncontending team's stretch run. It's a sign that the rest of 2010 is more of an early version of 2011 spring training.

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