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3 PIRATES

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OVERALL RANK 7

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP PITTSBURGH

There's a good chance they're the third club in the division. If they're a playoff team, they're on the outer edge.... The rotation is pretty iffy. They're counting on Gerrit Cole to be the ace. I don't know if he is. When he had Russell Martin behind the plate, he was very good. Martin's gone, and I don't think Cole connects well with Francisco Cervelli.... The starter who has stood out is Tyler Glasnow. He has the best stuff on the staff; this spring he's been as good an arm as there is in Florida. The question is, Can he throw enough strikes? ... Chad Kuhl will be in the rotation somewhere. His stuff's not great, but he knows what he's doing.... Iván Nova's in a battle for the five hole, but he may be better than that.... This is a very solid defensive club in the outfield—Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte. Andrew McCutchen has played well in rightfield. He's swung the bat better. Getting him out of center is a good move, but he is getting old. He's just not a premier outfielder like he was.... They're going to need Josh Bell, because you're not going to October with John Jaso as your first baseman. But Bell had left-knee surgery and hasn't been out there this spring.... Somebody else is going to have to get in there offensively other than the outfielders. David Freese is solid. Jordy Mercer is an average starting shortstop on a decent team, but he's no All-Star.... Juan Nicasio is a key figure. If he has to go in the rotation, he can. If he's a reliever, he can give you multiple innings.... The bullpen is pretty good. Tony Watson hasn't been sharp, but I'm not worried. Daniel Hudson's a solid setup guy.

MANAGER CLINT HURDLE

7TH SEASON WITH PITTSBURGH

B-T BA OBP SLG WAR

2B JOSH HARRISON [INJURY RISK]

R-R .283 .311 .388 1.8

1B JOSH BELL [ROOKIE] [INJURY RISK]

S-R .273 .368 .406 -0.5

RF ANDREW MCCUTCHEN [DECLINING]

R-R .256 .336 .430 -0.7

CF STARLING MARTÉ [TEAM MVP] [DEFENSIVE STAR] [INJURY RISK] [BARGAIN]

R-R .311 .362 .456 4.9

LF GREGORY POLANCO [DEFENSIVE STAR] [INJURY RISK] [BARGAIN] [RISING]

L-L .258 .323 .463 1.6

3B DAVID FREESE

R-R .270 .352 .412 1.8

C FRANCISCO CERVELLI [DEFENSIVE STAR]

R-R .264 .377 .322 1.6

SS JORDY MERCER

R-R .256 .328 .374 0.9

BENCH

B-T BA OBP SLG WAR

IF JOHN JASO

L-R .268 .353 .413 0.9

UT PHIL GOSSELIN [NEW ACQUISITION]

R-R .277 .324 .368 0.3

OF ADAM FRAZIER

L-R .301 .356 .411 0.5

W--L ERA K/9 WAR

RH GERRIT COLE [INJURY RISK] [BARGAIN]

7--10 3.88 7.6 1.9

RH JAMESON TAILLON [INJURY RISK] [BARGAIN]

5--4 3.38 7.4 2.3

RH IVÁN NOVA

12--8 4.17 7.1 1.9

RH CHAD KUHL [RISING]

5--4 4.20 6.8 0.9

RH DREW HUTCHISON

13--5 5.57 7.7 -1.7 [2015 STATS]

SV ERA K/9 WAR

LH TONY WATSON

15 3.06 7.7 1.4

RH DANIEL HUDSON [NEW ACQUISITION] [INJURY RISK]

5 5.22 8.7 -0.6

NEW ACQUISITION

2016 STATS

*2015 STATS

(R) ROOKIE

TEAM MVP

DEFENSIVE STAR

INJURY RISK

BARGAIN

RISING

DECLINING

MODEST PROPOSAL

Power-hitting Josh Bell is ready for the majors, which makes incumbent first baseman John Jaso an excess piece. While having Jaso around to pinch-hit helps, he's too good a hitter to be a reserve. Pittsburgh, a strong wild-card contender with an unstable rotation, should look to move Jaso, his .359 career OBP and his $4 million salary to an AL team for a starting pitcher. The Mariners and the Angels could use the OBP boost, but it's the Rays who have the need, the open lineup spot and the extra pitcher—righty Matt Andriese. A one-for-one trade would improve both teams.

BOTTOM LINE

Pittsburgh has had a great run, but the Cards have improved and the Bucs haven't.