Pittsburgh Pirates Wake-Up Call – Questions that Need Answered

In our daily Wake-Up Call, we get you ready for the day with a complete look at all things Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

We are now 17 days away from the first game of the season for the Pirates, and the roster will continue to play itself out over that stretch. We’ll get to see who gets the final rotation, bullpen, and bench spots, but the rest of the roster is mostly set. We know some of the bigger questions the team faces this year, most notably can Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole return to the great players they were before 2016. But those will play out over the course of the entire season. What about in the first few weeks? Let’s take at a few of the pressing questions that will be answered sooner rather than later.
1. Can Josh Bell handle first base defensively?

For all of the offensively potential Josh Bell has, he struggled defensively at first last year. This spring, he does have one error in 17 innings of work at first heading into Thursday’s action. But once Opening Day comes, Bell will get the majority of starts at first, and he could get almost all of the starts there if he plays well defensively there. But we should known within the first few weeks how much Bell has improved over the off-season.

2. Will Jung Ho Kang play third base for the Pirates this season?

Jung Ho Kang is currently on the restricted list as he awaits the fallout of his DUI. We’re still not sure if he’ll be the Pirates’ Opening Day third baseman, but that seems unlikely. David Freese will start at third should Kang not be ready to go. The question is, then, when, and if, we will see him this season. Kang is an important factor in the Pirates’ hopes for the playoffs this year. His loss will not only hurt the starting lineup, but the bench as well.

3. Does Alen Hanson have a future with the team?

If Kang isn’t ready for Opening Day, Alen Hanson could have a legitimate shot at making the Opening Day roster. If Kang is ready, Hanson’s shot at the majors with the Pirates may be all but gone. Thus, Hanson has to take advantage of any time he’s given with the Pirates, which could be just the first few weeks of the regular season. if he doesn’t play well, or doesn’t get a chance over the course of the year, the Pirates need to consider trading him.

These are just a few of the questions that could be answered within the first few weeks of the regular season. They’re important questions, and they’re certainly not the only ones.

Baseball Talk Around the Web

  • Bradford Doolittle of ESPN gives an interesting list of players that each team would want up to the plate with the game on the line. Who did he pick for the Pirates?
  • And Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report ranked the top 30 third basemen in all of baseball. Fun fact: two Pirates actually made the list. But where did he slot them?

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Tyler Waite

Tyler is a data analyst by day and an aspiring sports writer by night. He’s been a Pittsburgh sports fan his entire life, but has a special place for the Pirates. He is fascinated by the analytical side of the game, and wants to impart his analysis as both a writer and as a fan to Pirate fans everywhere.