The Pittsburgh Pirates made major strides, but fell short of their goals in 2012. Whether they want to go to a postseason, or just be a winning team in 2013, they'll have to make moves in the offseason to shore up their team, as they have done in the recent past.
1. Sign at least one, possibly two, decent starters to fill out the rotation. This has always been a challenge, but one that the Bucs have been able to meet. In 2011, it was Kevin Correia. In 2012, both AJ Burnett and Erik Bedard represented finds.
2. Replace some relievers. This is another thing the Pirates have done well. Jason Grilli is going free agent, and Joel Hanrahan appears to be getting tired and may not be worth re-signing. Jarrod Hughes could be given more responsibility after a strong rookie year. Jeff Locke would be a good "long" reliever who can start occasionally, but would benefit from more experience before becoming a full time starter.
3. Find a better shortstop. People used to think that Jack Wilson was a light hitter. He may have been so after he left the Pirates, but while a Buc, he was a decidedly better batter than Clint Barnes has been. Unless Pittsburgh wants to work a trade, there isn't a whole lot on the free-agent market, but even someone like Ronny Cedeno looked better by comparison.
4. Upgrade at catcher. Rod Barajas isn't doing the job. Michael McKenry is, after a fashion, but there are some questions about his durability. At a bare minimum, McKenry should be the first, and Barajas the backup catcher, which would be the reverse of the relationship for most of 2012. And getting rid of Barajas and signing a better second (or first) catcher wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.
5. Get better about stealing, and stopping the stealing of bases. In 2012, they swiped only 73 bases and had 154 stolen from them because "old" catcher Barajas was particularly bad about throwing out runners. The younger McKenry was better by comparison, but not yet league average in this regard.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!