Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hot Stove Talkin' 

With the signing today of Jeromy Burnitz, it seems off the top of my head that the Pirates 2006 starters are pretty much set:

CF Chris Duffy
SS Jack Wilson
LF Jason Bay
RF Jeromy Burnitz
1B Sean Casey
3B Joe Randa
2B Jose Castillo
C Humberto Cota/Ryan Doumit

Looks OK to me, given that they are still the Pirates.

However, the Burnitz signing is an unfortunate development for Craig Wilson. Burnitz, as I recall, is a lefty, so a platoon-type situation could develop. But I'd assume that Burnitz will get the first shot at playing every day, and Wilson will be the backup for both corner outfield spots and first base. Burnitz is a high-strikeout type who could easily tank all at once if his bat speed gives out. He draws a few walks, but has a poor track record at PNC Park.

The other big acquisition, Sean Casey, is also not far from being a below-average first baseman. On the other hand, he's not far from being extremely valuable again. He'll be an interesting one to watch, and certainly a great asset in the clubhouse. And the third new addition, Randa, will be servicable and certainly a better option than the incumbent, punchless Freddy Sanchez.

I guess I don't know that Randa, Casey, and Burnitz are a huge upgrade from what the Bucs could have gotten (or expected to get) out of Ty Wigginton, Daryle Ward, and Craig Wilson in '05. It's certainly likely to be an improvement, but it could also go into the crapper. The real difference, if there is one, between last year and this year, will be pitching. And Chris Duffy, if he pans out as expected in center and in the leadoff spot.

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