A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE PIRATES
There are four players in their everyday lineup—Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez—who would be everyday guys for most big league clubs, which is a better thing to hang their hat on than they've had in recent memory. . . . McCutchen should be a legitimate All-Star in centerfield as soon as this year. For a 24-year-old, you rarely see him fooled. You can't say that about a guy like Alvarez—though when he gets the ball centered on his bat, Alvarez (also 24) can hit it out of any park. . . . Alvarez reminds me a lot of Bobby Bonilla at third: plus arm, awkward feet, but the bat will make up for mistakes on defense. . . . Tabata reminds me of Delmon Young in leftfield, only a better athlete. . . . Walker's a solid second baseman and a switch-hitter, but I like him from the left side quite a bit more than from the right—there's more power and his bat stays in the zone a bit longer. . . . Ronny Cedeno shows flashes of consistency, which is not what you want from your shortstop. When he's in there, on a ground ball to short I don't automatically look down at my score sheet and write 6-3. . . . James McDonald isn't an ace, but he's the closest they have. He's a guy I'd like to have, but to round out a rotation, not to front it. His stuff is good, not wipeout. . . . I think this team will improve in part because of the new manager, Clint Hurdle. They're no longer a station-to-station club—they ran the bases at will in spring training. That will help make up for their lack of power.
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER CLINT HURDLE
1ST SEASON WITH PIRATES
Pirates starters who had fewer than 10 wins and at least 10 losses last season; only two other teams in the expansion era (1978 Mariners and '85 Giants) have had as many. Three of those pitchers—Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf and Charlie Morton—return to the rotation this year.
Since 2006, three organizations have handed Ronny Cedeno their starting shortstop job: the Cubs, Mariners and Pirates. Only once since then has Cedeno had an OBP above .300 (.328 for Chicago in '08.). Now 28, Cedeno is a subpar shortstop option for any team—even one of the league's worst. He strikes out more than four times as often as he walks, he doesn't have speed (32 steals, 15 times caught stealing in his six-year career) or power (31 home runs, .356 slugging percentage), and his defense hasn't rated well since 2007. He is the epitome of that stathead totem, the replacement-level player. Rule 5 pick Josh Rodriguez, 26, should be Pittsburgh's starting shortstop. Rodriguez showed plate discipline and power coming through the Indians' system, although his speed was lost to a 2009 hamstring injury that cost him most of that season. His .297/.378/.484 line at two levels last year wasn't enough to get him into the Indians' crowded middle-infield picture, making him available to the Pirates. They have slotted Rodriguez as a bench player. Rodriguez may or may not be better than Cedeno, but the Pirates have absolutely nothing to lose by playing him every day and finding out.
CHUCK SOLOMON (ALVAREZ)
DERICK E. HINGLE/US PRESSWIRE (RODRIGUEZ)