"As we're sitting here today, John Raynor obviously has put himself in front of Brandon Moss," Huntington said Wednesday morning. "We still have time left in spring training. As we've said from the get-go, it's a competition that won't be based on pure statistics. But John's had a good camp to date, and Brandon's struggled."
Moss is out of options and must clear waivers to be demoted to the minors. One industry source said earlier in the week that Moss likely would be claimed in that scenario, and there remains genuine concern within the Pirates that Moss, once a top prospect in Boston's system, could emerge elsewhere.
This whole situation creates a dilemma that is probably ultimately meaningless but interesting nonetheless. If I'm interpreting this correctly, the team's stance is more or less that Brandon Moss has been awful enough since last April that they're worried about putting him on the team, but that they still like him enough that they assume that letting him go will screw them over in the end.
The question, I guess, is what Moss potentially offers in the long-term over what he might offer this year. Honestly, though, I think his best projection at this point is to become a Ryan Church-like fourth outfielder, who has a decent bat with a little pop and plays nice defense. And we have Ryan Church already, and he wasn't terribly too hard to find.
Does Raynor offer more? He is right-handed, which is a nice feature for a lineup with Garrett Jones and Jeff Clement starting. And he can back up McCutchen in center, though Church can technically do that, too. I really have no idea how his bat will play at the big league level, but I suspect that he'll have a rough go of things at least at first. Still, he doesn't quite replicate Church's skill-set the way Moss does and since Crosby is the only real right-handed bat on the bench (Young's career OPS against lefties as a righty is .672) it would make sense to keep Raynor. Actually, I still think it'd make sense to keep Steve Pearce, but that doesn't seem like it's an option. In any case, I'm not sure that losing Moss on waivers is going to cause the Pirates to lose anything that can't be replaced (though the same could certainly be said of losing Raynor back to the Marlins).