Tagged: Pittsburgh Pirates

2010 Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

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pirates.gif2009 Record: 62-99, 6th NL Central

2009 Prediction: 60-102, 6th NL Central

2010 Prediction: 6th NL Central

 

Impact Player: Andrew McCutchen

Impact Pitcher: Paul Maholm

Top Prospect Player:
3B Pedro Alvarez

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Brad Lincoln

 

Manager: John Russell, 3rd Season
(129-194, .399)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: 2B Akinori Iwamura,
INF Bobby Crosby, OF Ryan Church, RHP Octavio Dotel, RHP Brendan
Donnelly
, LHP Javier Lopez, LHP Jack Taschner, RHP D.J. Carrasco, RHP Vinnie
Chulk
, LHP Neal Cotts

Significant Losses: C Robinzon Diaz, RHP Matt
Capps
, RHP Jesse Chavez

 

The Pittsburgh Pirates now hold the professional sports
record for most consecutive losing seasons with 17.  The Pirates have been the prime example of
how not to run a baseball franchise wince their last winning season in 1992;
trading away good prospects before they develop, losing franchise players and
not getting anything noteworthy in return, and hiring scouts that apparently
have no idea how to do their jobs.  Will
2010 be different?  A new-look bullpen
and a budding star centerfielder will try to push this band of mediocre
baseball players toward the .500-mark. 
Let’s face it, though, they’ll fail; it’s the Pirates!

 

Pitching

paul-maholm.jpg

Paul Maholm is
this team’s number one pitcher in terms of overall talent, but he’s coming off
a sub-par year where he went only 8-9 with a 4.44 ERA.  He’ll be 28 this year, this is the season he
needs to prove he’s worthy of the number one spot on this staff.  Ross
Ohlendorf
made some strides last season after tying for the team lead in
wins with an above .500 11-10 record.  His
ERA was the best of any starter at an impressive 3.92.  He’s probably a number 4 or 5 starter on a
good team, but he’ll need to be a number two for the Bucs.  There were once very high expectations for
lefty Zach Duke who led the NL in
losses last season (16), but he also won 11 games and had a
somewhat-respectable 4.04 ERA.  Beyond
those three, there are serious questions. 
Charlie Morton, Kevin Hart, Jeff Karstens, and Jimmy
Barthmaier
appear to be the frontrunners for the final two spots, but there
are other minor-league arms, such as Daniel
McCutchen
(no relation to Andrew) in the mix.  2006 first-rounder Brad Lincoln and tall righty Tim
Alderson
(acquired in the Freddy Sanchez deal with San Francisco) could
make the jump to the majors if they prove they’re ready.  Both should at the very least end the year in
Pittsburgh.

 

Former closer Matt
Capps
had a rough year in 2009, but most expected the Pirates to offer the
26-year-old arbitration in the offseason; they did not and now he’s the
expected closer in Washington.  As a
stop-gap replacement, the Pirates signed veteran Octavio Dotel to close out ballgames.  He hasn’t been a full-time closer since the
2004 season when he saved 36 games with Houston and Oakland, but the Pirates
believe he still has enough left in the tank for 2010.  If he doesn’t, Joel Hanrahan could step in, but he’s probably better suited for
setup duties.  Evan Meek looked solid in mid-relief last season and will probably be
joined by fellow righties Steven Jackson
and D.J. Carrasco, a versatile and
effective sinker/slider pitcher who was surprisingly non-tendered by the White
Sox.  Lefties Javier Lopez (who was never really on the ins in Boston) and Jack Taschner will probably make the
team, while 38-year-old Brendan Donnelly
was signed and could make the team. 
There are a few other arms that could also be in the mix, including
Alderson, who could be of some use in the ‘pen before making the jump to the
rotation.

 

ROTATION

 

 

Paul Maholm

27/8

L/L

Ross Ohlendorf

27/8

R/R

Zach Duke

27

L/L

Charlie Morton

26

R/R

Kevin Hart

27

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Octavio Dotel*

36

R/R

Joel Hanrahan

28

R/R

Evan Meek

26/7

R/R

Steven Jackson

28

R/R

Javier Lopez*

32/3

L/L

Jack Taschner*

32

L/L

D.J. Carrasco*

33

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Jeff Karstens

27/8

R/R

Daniel McCutchen

27

R/R

Brendan Donnelly*

38/9

R/R

Wilfredo Ledezma*

29

L/L

Vinnie Chulk*

31

R/R

Brian Burres*

29

L/L

Neal Cotts*

30

L/L

Jimmy Barthmaier

26

R/R

Tyler Yates

32/3

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

andrew-mccutchen.jpg

Not only were the Pirates 14th in the NL in ERA,
they were dead last in runs scored.  The
Bucs are hoping a full season with young star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen will change that.  McCutchen lit up the NL after a June call-up
last season and torched his way to a .286/.365/.471 line with 12 homeruns and
54 RBI to go along with 22 stolen bases; 20/40 is in his future.  Lastings
Milledge
looked comfortable for the first time in his major-league career
after being traded to the Bucs part way through last season and hit .291 after
being acquired; he’ll play leftfield. 
The rightfielder is expected to be Garrett
Jones
who was called up last season and swatted 21 homeruns in only 82
games while hitting .293.  He does have
plus power, but out-of-nowhere breakout years from 28-year-olds don’t tend to
last long.  If he proves to lack staying
power, Ryan Church was acquired and
could get some playing time.

 

Last year’s opening day infield of Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez,
Jack Wilson and Eric Hinske is gone and was replaced throughout the year last
season.  Andy LaRoche is back at third after getting most of the playing
time after Hinske was dealt to the Yankees and was decent last season, but
needs to strike out less.  His defense
was passable at third.  Ronny Cedeno is the probable shortstop,
and the once highly-touted Cubs prospect has something to prove this
season.  If he struggles, the Pirates
have veteran Ramon Vazquez and they
also signed former AL Rookie of the Year Bobby
Crosby
.  The Pirates traded
semi-effective reliever Jesse Chavez
to Tampa Bay for second baseman Akinori
Iwamura
.  Iwamura hit .290 in only 69
games last season and was the odd man out after Ben Zobrist took flight.  At
first base, there’s expected to be a competition between Jeff Clement (a once can’t-miss prospect catcher in Seattle’s
organization), Crosby, Steve Pearce,
and Garrett Jones if they decide he
shouldn’t be in the outfield.  Clement is
expected to get the job, but Jones might be a better fit, allowing Church to
start in right.  The catcher will be Ryan Doumit who’s coming off a down
year.  He’s trade bait at this point.

 

Crosby, Church and Vazquez will be on the bench if they’re
not starting and they’ll be joined by fifth outfielder Brandon Moss who is a nice left-handed power threat late in
games.  Jason Jaramillo, once thought of as the future starting catcher,
may get his shot if Doumit is traded this year, but for now he’ll likely be the
backup.  Utility-man Delwyn Young could also find himself on the opening day roster.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

CF

Andrew McCutchen

23

R/R

2B

Akinori Iwamura*

31

L/R

RF

Garrett Jones

28/9

L/L

C

Ryan Doumit

29

S/R

1B

Jeff Clement

26/7

L/R

LF

Lastings Milledge

25

R/R

3B

Andy LaRoche

26

R/R

SS

Ronny Cedeno

27

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Jason Jaramillo

27

S/R

INF

Bobby Crosby* (SS, 3B, 2B, 1B)

30

R/R

OF

Ryan Church* (RF, CF, LF)

31

L/L

OF

Brandon Moss (LF, RF)

26

L/R

INF

Ramon Vazquez (2B, SS, 3B)

33/4

L/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

UTIL

Delwyn Young (2B, CF, LF)

27/8

S/R

1B

Steve Pearce (RF)

27

R/R

OF

John Raynor (CF, LF)

26

R/R

3B

Neil Walker

24

S/R

INF

Doug
Bernier
(SS, 2B)                               

29/0

R/R

OF

Jonathan
Van Every
(CF, LF)

30

L/L

*=newly acquired

 

The Pirates were the best defensive team in the majors last
season with a sparkling .988 fielding percentage, but that was about the only
thing they had going for them, falling 4 wins off their 2008 record and
finishing with 99 losses.  The Pirates
need to have a strong season very soon or their already apathetic fan base,
could give up altogether.  The 2010
Pirates are probably not that team; they have only one top-tier player in
McCutchen, but their farm system is improving so Pirates fans will need to
continue holding on to their very tried patience for at least another year.

Final Prediction:
62-100, 6th NL Central

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’09 Preview — Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB_Pirates.gif2008 Record: 67-95, 6th NL Central
2009 Prediction: 6th NL Central

Impact Player: Ryan Doumit
Impact Pitcher: Paul Maholm
Top Prospect: Pedro Alvarez, 3B

Significant Acquisitions: UTIL Eric Hinske, OF Craig Monroe, INF Ramon Vazquez
Significant Losses: 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, OF Jason Michaels, INF Luis Rivas, INF Chris Gomez, C Raul Chavez, P T.J. Beam

Remember when the Pirates were good?  Yeah, me neither.  The last time this team had a winning record was 1992.  Do you know how old I was in 1992?  I was 8.  8!!!!  Not only that, but it’s looking really good for a 17th straight losing season in Pittsburgh.  While we rave about the accomplishments of scouting departments in Florida, Tampa, Boston, and Minnesota, the Pirates languish in last place, year in, year out; receiving high draft picks, yet never getting anywhere with them.  For some reason this team can’t draft, they can’t develop, they can’t win.  If I owned the Pirates, I would fire everyone in the organization…management, scouting, coaching, everything.  That may just be what this team needs to succeed.

Pitching
Let’s just get it out of the way now.  The Pirates finished at or near the bottom in every category on both sides of the ball in ’08.  They do have a potential ace in lefty Paul Maholm who went 9-9 a year ago with an impressive 3.71 ERA and was the only Pirates pitcher to hit 200 innings.  After that, 5 pitchers compete for the remaining 4 jobs.  Ian Snell appears to be a frontrunner but needs to improve on his 5.42 ERA from ’08; Zach Duke has great potential but has rarely shown it but should end up being the #3 starter; Tom Gorzelanny had a 6.66 ERA in ’08; and Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens were acquired from the Yankees in the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte deal last year and could also vie for spots.  Either way, the rotation is a long way off.

In the bullpen, things aren’t much better.  They do have a somewhat decent closer in Matt Capps who was 21 of 26 in saves last year with a solid 3.02 ERA, and lefty John Grabow won six games and posted a 2.84 ERA.  Outside of those two, there isn’t much depth.  Righties Tyler Yates, Romulo Sanchez, Craig Hansen, Jesse Chavez and either Ohlendorf or Karstens, depending on who starts, will compete for spots with Yates being maybe the only lock.  From the left side, Sean Burnett and Phil Dumatrait should take on the responsibility of getting southpaws out, but they had a combined 5.05 ERA in ’08.  The Pirates bullpen is a long way off.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Paul Maholm (L/27)
  • Ian Snell (R/27)
  • Zach Duke (L/26)
  • Tom Gorzelanny (L/26)
  • Jeff Karstens (R/26)

Bullpen

  • Matt Capps (R/25)
  • John Grabow (L/30)
  • Tyler Yates (R/31)
  • Sean Burnett (L/26)
  • Phil Dumatrait (L/27)
  • Romulo Sanchez (R/24)
  • Ross Ohlendorf (R/26)

Lineup
As with most things, the Pirates don’t have much to work with in the way of talent in thier lineup, but they do have some decent young talent…nothing like the Rays had going into last year so don’t get any ideas.  Centerfielder Nate McLouth had a breakout year last year hitting .276 with 26 HR and 94 RBI to go along with 23 stolen bases and was rewarded with a long-term contract.  Here’s the thing about McLouth: He’d never really hit for much power before last year.  He had 25 combined home runs in three previous years at the major league level and never hit more than 12 in the minors, and that was in A ball.  I sense that McLouth’s ’08 could have been an abberation and he might not hit more than 15 homeruns this year.  For the money the Pirates gave him, that isn’t enough.  Formally highly-touted outfielder Nyjer Morgan will get a chance to start in Left, although at 28, no one’s expecting much anymore; and in Right is Brandon Moss who was acquired in the Bay/Ramirez deal (which the Pirates totally got the best of, by the way, maybe a post on that later) who should become a solid major leaguer.  In the infield, solid vets Freddy Sanchez (2B) and Jack Wilson (SS) should man the middle and three players will vie for the two corner spots: Off-season signing Eric Hinske should be at Third and Adam LaRoche should be the primary First Base option.  Adam’s brother Andy LaRoche is also in the mix and is a plus defender at both positions.  Catching will belong to Ryan Doumit who was solid on both sides of the ball in ’08: He hit .318 with 69 RBI.  Either way the Pirates lineup is not as young as you’d expect…and they’re still a long way off.

On the bench, there is some depth with Andy LaRoche and off-season signings Craig Monroe in the outfield, and Roman Vazquez in the infield.  Young Shortstop Brian Bixler might make the team and could even challenge Wilson for the starting job; and Jason Jaramillo should backup Doumit at Catcher.

Lineup (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • LF  Nyjer Morgan (L/28)
  • 2B  Freddy Sanchez (R/31)
  • CF  Nate McLouth (L/27)
  • 1B  Adam LaRoche (L/29)
  • C    Ryan Doumit (S/28)
  • 3B  Eric Hinske (L/31)
  • SS  Jack Wilson (R/31)
  • RF  Brandon Moss (L/25)

Bench

  • 3B/1B Andy LaRoche (R/25)
  • OF Craig Monroe (R/32)
  • INF Ramon Vazquez (L/32)
  • C    Jason Jaramillo (S/26)
  • SS  Brian Bixler (R/26)


Outlook

Do not make the mistake of thinking that the Pirates are this year’s Rays.  They aren’t.  The Rays had/have a lot of young talent, while the Pirates seem to have lost the ability to draft well since Barry Bonds left.  Nate McLouth will take a huge step back this year and outside of LaRoche and Doumit, there’s really not a whole lot of upside in the lineup.  As for the pitchers Maholm, Snell, and Duke all have potential but need to become aces if the team has any shot at even approaching .500.  Either way, the Pirates are still a long way off.  Final Prediction: 60-102, 6th NL Central
 

Russ Adams FINALLY on his way out — or so it seems

ricciardiHI.jpgIt’s no secret.  I’m not the biggest fan of Blue Jays GM J.P. Riccardi.  Sure, I went through the normal honeymoon phase when he first got here in ’02.  He traded for Eric Hinske who went on to win AL Rookie of the Year, he made deals for Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus seemingly out of nothing.  Unfortunately, none of these things panned out in the long-run and although the Jays are perennially mentioned as a team “on the cusp,” the season always ends in the same way.  MEDIOCRITY. 

The fact of the matter is, J.P. has run his course with me and I’m no longer a fan.  We need fresh management with fresh ideas.  I applaud ownership for giving J.P. a real chance and having patience as he tried to execute his plan (something that has all but disappeared from sports these days), but enough is enough.  How many more years of mediocre teams will ownership take before they decide Mr. Riccardi is blowing smoke up their ***** and has run out of ideas.  No, the Jays aren’t a bad team, they haven’t been in a long time, but I’m sick of middle ground…I’m sick of 3rd place (or now 4th with the emergence of the Rays).  It isn’t good enough anymore and it’s time to move on.

One last thing before I get to the point (and there is a point): J.P.’s smooth-talking.  I’m tired of it.  We know you’re plan with the Jays has failed…just admit it already.  If you listen to Mr. Riccardi it sounds like waiting until 2010 has been the plan all along…the jig is up, sir.

That isn’t to say that J.P. is all bad.  He has done some good things and has managed to build a team that has some of the pieces it needs to be a true contender, but the fact is: it isn’t one.  J.P., I appreciate you’re services, but we need to move in a new direction.  That’s right, I just fired him…I can do that…’cause no one cares what I think…nor should they.

adams.jpgANYWAY…the point is:  J.P.’s first draft pick as Jays GM was a middle infielder by the name of Russ Adams (14th overall in 2002).  It appears as though the Jays have finally given up on him after they designated him for assignment today to make room for 28-year-old minor-league pitcher T.J. Beam who was claimed off waivers from the Pirates.  Although Adams did enjoy a 63-RBI output in his rookie season in ’05 he is a terrible defensive player and has apparently forgotten how to hit.  By the way, players taken in the first round after Adams?

  • Scott Kazmir
  • Cole Hamels
  • Nick Swisher
  • James Loney
  • Jeff Francoeur
  • Joe Blanton
  • Matt Cain

Knowing the Jays, they’ll likely take this opportunity to ink Adams to a 6-year, $100-million contract extension.

I will say this though, if Riccardi can pull off signing Kevin Millar, I’ll give him a little temporary love.  I refuse to cuddle afterwards though.

One more thing: The Yankees ’09 Preview is done and will be up tomorrow.