C Jason Kendall (.319-3-51, 11 steals) had one of his finest seasons both offensively and defensively. Kendall will likely be back for his 10th season as the starter in 2005, though they Pirates would love to dump the three years and $34 million that remain on his six-year, $60 million contract.
C Humberto Cota (.227-5-8) had a decent year as the seldom-used No. 2 catcher despite being bothered by a strained muscle in his side. He has some pop and is decent defensively, giving him a chance to have a fairly long career as a backup.
OUTFIELD: Jason Bay established himself as a strong NL Rookie of the Year candidate and Tike Redman is emerging as a solid player. Nevertheless, the Pirates would like to add another power bat, and right field would seem to be the logical position to do it.
LF Jason Bay (.282-26-82) had an outstanding rookie season despite missing the first month while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Bay has the look of a potential star with his ability to hit for average and power while playing above-average defense.
CF Tike Redman (.280-8-51, 18 steals) had a poor first half but finished strong in the second half. Redman has the potential to be an above-average player but needs to improve his plate discipline and tighten up his defense.
RF Rob Mackowiak (.246-17-75, 13 steals) got his first chance to play regularly, also seeing considerable action at third base, but faded badly after a strong first half. Mackowiak is better utilized as a utility player with his ability to play every position except pitcher and shortstop while providing power and speed.
LF/RF J.J. Davis (.143-0-3) had a lost rookie season as he was limited to 35 at-bats by inconsistency and injuries. Davis has plenty of power potential, but his immaturity and mental mistakes flummox Pirates management.
MEDICAL WATCH: LHP Sean Burnett (reconstructive left elbow surgery, expected to be out until August), CF Tike Redman (surgery to remove cyst from near eyes, expected to be ready for the start of spring training), RHP Kip Wells (carpal tunnel release surgery on right middle finger, expected to be ready for the start of spring training).
Injuries dragged down the Pirates' rotation late in the season as LHP Sean Burnett and RHP Kip Wells…