Pittsburgh Pirates: What Does Jerry Sands Bring to the Bucs?

Andrew Kaufman@akaufman23Senior Analyst IDecember 24, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 26:  Jerry Sands #47 of the Los Angeles Dodgers flips the bat after drawing  a first inning walk against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 4-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Rather than ruminate over a potential trade—where we don't know the identities of half of the players—that would send closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox, Pirates fans should instead concentrate on what is known.

And what we do know is the following: Hanrahan is almost certainly on his way to Boston, and Jerry Sands and Stolmy Pimentel are very likely to be members of the Pirate organization next season. 

So what we can do is look at what Jerry Sands, the more notable player of the two who are seemingly on their way to Pittsburgh, brings to the table. And he appears to be an intriguing corner outfield option who possesses a fair amount of question marks. 

There are two primary views about Sands right now, and both revolve around the polarizing stats he posted in the minor leagues. The first camp points to his elite walk and power numbers and thinks he has a bright future. The second camp disregards his power numbers due to a hitter-friendly Triple-A park and sees a player who strikes out a lot and was the third-best hitter on his minor league team last year.

As is often the case, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, the fact that Sands played in the PCL likely inflated his Triple-A stat lines, which saw him post slugging percentages of .586 and .524 in consecutive seasons.

But Sands has posted a slugging percentage above .500 at every minor league level, not just in the PCL, and he has compiled a walk rate of over 10 percent in every season except one. Bill James projects an OPS of .812 for Sands in 2013, which would certainly make him a useful player though not a star in a corner outfield role.

The question then becomes where Sands fits on the roster. Is it as simple as either letting him and Travis Snider compete for the right field job and seeing who lives up to their potential or just platooning the two? Or will the Pirates move Garrett Jones?

It seems like between Snider, Marte and Sands (yes, there is even more depth with the likes of Alex Presley, Jose Tabata and Clint Robinson but none of these players has earned a starting job at this point) the Pirates have three players whose value is at least somewhat derived from projection. Trading Jones and relying on all three as full-time players may be a bit risky.

That said, the Bucs have to feel more comfortable jumping on an offer for Jones now if they feel like they are getting a good deal. Including Marte in a blockbuster trade for a proven outfielder like Giancarlo Stanton or Justin Upton becomes more enticing as well.

The Pirates are building solid depth in the outfield, and they are doing so through players who have at least a decent likelihood of major league success. In a vacuum, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

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