By Jason Shetler
Thanks to everyone who tweeted or messaged me their Pirates questions for the first regular season edition of the “Bucco Nation mailbag”. And with that being said, let’s dive right into it.
What do the Pirates do about Starling Marte? – Try to deal him when suspension is over? Or continue with him and hope he doesn’t use PEDs again? – James from Pittsburgh, PA
I would be really shocked if the Pirates had thoughts about trading Marte based on the situation. Just let him serve his punishment, and just hope that he learned his lesson, because he is far too valuable an asset for this team offensively, defensively and on the basepaths.
Do we expect Jose Osuna to stay up or do you see Austin Meadows making some appearances? – And will Alen Hanson see some regular starts anytime this season? – Brock from Tyrone, PA
Obviously, if Osuna performs well, then he should remain with the club. Perhaps he gets put into a right field platoon with John Jaso for the time being. Should Osuna struggle, Meadows should receive the next call up. Truthfully, I would like to see Meadows get his feet wet at the big league level before Marte makes his return from suspension. To answer your second question, I don’t see Alen Hanson receiving much playing time this season, unless a couple of infielders sustain an injury.
Is it inevitable that Andrew McCutchen, Tony Watson and Josh Harrison will be traded at the deadline? – Joey from North Hills, PA
Should the Pirates find themselves in seller mode, then I think it’s very fair to say that all three will be out of Pittsburgh. Austin Meadows is the heir apparent to McCutchen, while Watson is a free agent after the season. In the case of Harrison, he has a salary that the Pirates would like to unload. In addition, they have Adam Frazier, who could replace Harrison at a much cheaper cost.
After the recent PED suspension of Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen showing he can still play center field, what do you think the chances are that the Pirates sign McCutchen to another long term contract, especially with Austin Meadows in the wings? -Cory from Danville, PA
Honestly, I would say the chances of re-signing McCutchen to another long term extension is slim. Not only because Meadows is knocking on the big league door, and could probably get called up now, if the Pirates chose to, but McCutchen is now in his age 30 season, and isn’t far off from exiting his prime. The one thing you want to avoid is extending a player who’s in there 30’s to a long term deal, because you obviously don’t want to pay someone significant dollars for their declining years.
Are the Pirates good enough to stay in the race as is or do they need to go out and get a bat, and if so, who and at position? – Rich from Coraopolis, PA
The Pirates pitching so far in April has been a pleasant surprise. If they can continue that great work, they can certainly compete for a Wild Card spot. However, the offense has really lacked consistency in the early going, and there’s no sugarcoating it. My guess is they would go with internal options to try and boost the offense. For example, Frazier getting more regular playing time over Harrison or Meadows joining the club.