Tuesday, August 03, 2010
The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't had a winning season since the Bush administration (old Bush, not young Bush) way back in 1992. This year will not end the futility as they currently sit on a pitiful 36-69 record on their way to an 18th straight losing campaign. When will their fortunes change? Is .500 remotely possible in the near future? Hard to say "yes" to either of those questions considering we're talking about a franchise mired in nearly 2 decades of hopelessness.
Fear not though Bucco fans, because hope is on the way. A new crop of players are in black & gold and are infusing some youth into the lineup and a new style of ball on the field.
C- Chris Snyder was just acquired from Arizona, and he and Ryan Doumit (when he recovers from a concussion) will form a formidable backstop duo.
1B- Garrett Jones was scooped out of the minor league garbage bin and has produce admirably for little coin.
2B- Neil Walker has converted relatively smoothly to 2nd base after coming up through the minors as at 3rd. He's hitting for average and power will likely develop for the 24 year old in the coming years.
SS- Ronny Cedeno is nothing to write home about and is a weak spot on the Pirates roster.
3B- Pedro Alverez is only 23 and still learning how to hit, but is getting valuable experience at the big league level.
OF- Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, and Lastings Milledge are all 25 and under. Tabata has really come along in the past few weeks with the stick, McCutchen is a future perennial all-star, and Milledge has finally seemed to put it all together.
A power bat seems to be what is lacking from the lineup, but Alvarez, Jones, and Walker should provide some pop in 2011 with others providing average and speed. They could really meld into a fun group to watch.
Herein lies the problem...keeping runs off the board. Zach Duke and Paul Maholm have not panned out like the Pirates have hoped and one, and possibly both, may be traded away here in August or during the offseason. Starting pitching is a sore spot in the Steel City right now, with Brad Lincoln serving as the only real prospect with MLB time to have 2011 impact aspirations. Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf are serviceable, but hardly worth building upon as a foundation.
Relief is another matter, Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan have combined to make a backend of the bullpen worthy of notice. Octavio Dotel, Javier Lopez, and DJ Carrasco also did good jobs, but were just dealt away. James McDonald, who was sent over for Dotel from the Dodgers, has a great live arm and could have a bright future as either a reliever or starter. Just has to harness that raw ability.
Help on the Way?
*Currently in Triple-A or Double-A
Bats- Steve Pearce/1B/OF, Alex Presley/OF, Jim Negrych/2B, Josh Harrison/2B, and Matt Hague/1B.
Arms- Michael Dubee, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Tony Watson, Daniel Moskos, and Jeff Locke.
So how long before the Pirates contend? At least 2-3 seasons away depending on how some of their bats progress and minor league arms develop.