Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Predictions For Spring Training


Feb 19, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Pedro Alvarez (24) fields a ground ball during the Thursday morning workout at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2015 Spring Training schedule of games set to commence today, it seems only fitting that my predictions should make it in time for the first game on the Grapefruit Circuit.

Prediction #1 – Pedro Alvarez will have an awful spring.

Pedro is a head case, as evidenced by his Rube Baker throwing skill-set.  See as follows:

Among other things, the defensive liability he presents (read: presented) at third base has prompted his move across the diamond to first base – that, and they need a full-time spot for Josh Harrison.

Over/Under for Strike-Outs:     14 1/2

Over/Under for Home Runs:     2 1/2

Over/Under for Errors Committed:     4 1/2

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He’s going to need to find ways to decrease, increase, and decrease these numbers, respectfully, to scale for the 2015 season.

Prediction #2 – Josh Harrison will have a monster Spring Training, offensively, by his standards.

Harrision is coming off of a career year in 2014.  Expect a triple slash of .330/.365/.475.  He may even mix in a couple of home runs.

Prediction #3 – A.J. Burnett returns to top form…

However, he gets absolutely rocked in at least 3 outings this Spring.  No big deal.  Charlie Morton is probably going to start the season on the shelf and then go through a brief rehab stint at AAA Indianapolis.  Expect him back by Memorial Day.

Perhaps this year is the year of the 6-man rotation for the Pirates?  It’s been suggested ad nauseam, but was not really a viable option in previous years – thank Wandy Rodriguez and Morton for that.

Prediction #4 – Francisco Cervelli has a solid spring and remains super healthy.

Cervelli has been widely criticized for being too fragile throughout his career, thus not allowing him to reach his apparent full potential as a major league catcher.  Expect Cervelli to remain healthy through Spring Training – perhaps missing a start or two due to some unspecified soreness or hangnail.

Often times, one is more prone to injury when trying to be extra cautious not to become injured.  We shall see.

Prediction #5 – Jordy Mercer retains starting shortstop duties.

With the off-season acquisition of Korean power-hitter Jung Ho Kang, this is expected to become the battle of the Spring.  The job is Mercer’s to lose, probably, unless Kang rocks a Steve Nebraska-like Spring (if you haven’t watched The Scout yet, you should).

Mercer is a bit of a known entity at shortstop – you know what you are going to get.  Kang will be with the team, but he will begin the season as a pinch-hitter and backup to

Neil Walker

and Mercer – he could potentially be in the mix at third base, but his arm is a bit concerning to me.

Alvarez probably moves to third base on off-days for Harrison and Corey Hart (if he’s not the starter already), gets the nod at first base.

Bonus Prediction – Corey Hart is the team’s starting first baseman when the team breaks camp.

This one is a bit of a reach, but not unbelievable.  Hart is capable of hitting 30-plus home runs and strikes-out, in general, far less than Alvarez does.

Expect for Alvarez to be confined to a pinch-hitting role, filling-in for Hart and Harrison on their off-days.

Please feel free to comment if you have your own predictions or disagree with the above.

We will revisit these predictions at the conclusion of Spring Training.

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