By Jason Shetler
It’s been a few months since I last did a Bucco Nation Q & A on the blog, so I thought I’d bring it back. Here are some of your Pirates questions.
Are we watching the last games with Neil Walker in a Pirates jersey? – John from Raleigh, NC
The decision to bring back Neil Walker for 2016 is going to be the most talked about subject this Pirates offseason. Walker is in his last year of arbitration, and could be projected to make close to $10 million. There’s the possibility of the Pirates moving him to another club that would be willing to take on that large salary. My guess is a Walker trade is likely, and that the Pirates would obtain or sign a rental second baseman until Alen Hanson arrives to Pittsburgh midseason.
Do you think the Pirates will get to Jake Arrieta on Wednesday? – Seth from Ellwood City, PA
When the Pirates last faced Arrieta in the Sunday Night Game at Wrigley Field, they seemed to show a patient approach against him in an effort to work up his pitch count, but all they did was allow Arrieta to get ahead in the count quickly, and as a result, had a perfect game heading into the seventh. Perhaps their approach against him for the Wild Card Game should be the opposite in trying to be aggressive early in the count. If the Pirates can attack the fastball early, as well as lay off the secondary pitches, then I do think Arrieta could be defeated.
Should Pedro Alvarez start the Wild Card Game or are his frequent defensive errors too much of a risk? – Hope from Huntington, WV
This obviously is the biggest question heading into the Wild Card Game. Last week, Alvarez had a couple miscues in the series finale against the Colorado Rockies, but redeemed himself with a go-ahead three-run homer. As mentioned in Seth’s question, the Pirates need to be aggressive in the count early with Arrieta, and Alvarez more so than anyone. While his defense is a problem his bat does make the lineup better, which is why I think the Pirates should roll the dice with him on Wednesday.
Do you think the Pirates will re-sign J.A. Happ? – Rob from Pittsburgh, PA
When the Bucs acquired J.A. Happ at the trade deadline from Seattle, the hope was that he would pitch decent in A.J. Burnett’s absence. Happ has been absolutely stellar since joining the Pirates, and has given the rotation a much needed shot in the arm with the inconsistencies of Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke. With the way Happ has pitched, his value is going to increase quite a bit now on the free agent market. Last offseason, Francisco Liriano re-signed with the Pirates on a three-year deal worth $39 million, so money shouldn’t be an issue in re-signing Happ. As long as another team doesn’t offer more than a two year deal, then I think there’s a good chance he comes back to Pittsburgh.
What team in the AL would you not want the Pirates to face if they get to the World Series? – Kris from, Toronto, Ontario, CN
Not just saying this because you reside in beautiful Toronto, but it certainly would be the Blue Jays that would present a very difficult matchup for the Pirates if they met in the Fall Classic. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have put up strong numbers again while Josh Donaldson is having a monster season, and in my opinion is this year’s AL MVP. Then you add the on base and speed element of Ben Revere to an already potent lineup. The Pirates have had their struggles defensively this season, and the last thing they want is giving the Jays offense extra outs. From the pitching side, the Pirates would have to face the the most likely AL Cy Young winner in David Price, as well as Mark Buehrle, and the Bucs have struggled against lefties this year. While it would be challenging, the Pirates pitching gives them a chance to make it a lengthy series. It would definitely present an enjoyable World Series matchup