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Predicting the 25-man roster

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Exactly one week from today, pitchers and catchers will be runnin’ and stretchin’, scatchin’ and spittin’ at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. By the end of next week, the full squad will be in spring training camp.

Other than in the bullpen, there will not be many position battles. The lineup is more or less set. Four of the five rotation spots are gimmies. The bench is a bit murky, but could clear up in a hurry.

Off the top of my head (and for entertainment purposes only) here’s a quick guesstimate of the 25-man roster on Opening Day:

Starters: C Chris Snyder, 1B Lyle Overbay, 2B Neil Walker, 3B Pedro Alvarez, SS Ronny Cedeno, LF Jose Tabata, CF Andrew McCutchen, RF Matt Diaz/Garrett Jones (platoon)

Bench: OF Jones/Diaz, OF John Bowker, C Ryan Doumit, INF Pedro Ciriaco, INF Josh Fields

Rotation: Paul Maholm, Kevin Correia, Ross Ohlendorf, James McDonald, Charlie Morton

Bullpen: CL Joel Hanrahan, SU Evan Meek, SU Joe Beimel, RP Chris Resop, RP Jose Veras, LRP Jeff Karstens

If the Pirates are higher on Rule 5 pickup Josh Rodriguez than I think they are, he could replace Ciriaco on this list. As for Fields … I dunno; just a hunch. Karstens is good insurance in case Morton flops again. Beimel, Veras and Fields all are non-roster invitees.

Of course, all bets are off if Doumit and/or Maholm is moved during spring training … which is a possibility I would not rule out.

What do you think? Drop me a line or post your 25 in a comment box below.

»»» Last season, the Pirates’ pitching staff had a lot of newcomers and guys with limited big league experience. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it was a “young” staff. With an average age of 28.6, the Pirates were slightly older than the MLB average (28.4) and the 11th-oldest staff in the majors.

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