Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Pittsburgh Pirates preview

Not even the Cubs can keep this team from finishing in last place. After all these years, they should be getting better, but its not happening. They’re still fairly young, and might get better, but they won’t get any quality free agents for a long time. It’s going to the farm through development and trades to do it, but it hasn’t happened in 20 years. There seems to be a huge problem.


Chris Snyder. Not a bad guy. He’s not a bad choice for this team. His average is terrible, but he does walk and has some power to go with it.  No extra base hits and he doesn’t run at all. His defense is okay, which is sorely needed on this team. He’ll mostly split time with Doumit, but will probably get the majority of the time if Doumit is traded or released.

Upside:  any kind of average will make his numbers even better

Downside:  not a long term answer for this team

Score:  0

First base:

Lyle Overbay. A funny pick up, as Garrett Jones had essentially the same year, is 4 years younger, and costs less money. He’s a proven hitter with some power and lots of doubles. His defence is good, but this isn’t the team for a guy of his experience. The only positive is it gives them a good utility guy in Jones, with some better defense. These aren’t the kind of decisions that will make this team better.

Upside:  will provide some needed stability to the line up

Downside:  he won’t be around after the break

Score:  + 1

Second base:

Neil Walker. A good rookie year for the switch-hitter, he’s got some future and is the kind of guy this team needs. Limited power with extra bases. No speed to speak of, and his defense isn’t good, but he does hit for average and get on base. Strikeouts aren’t great but aren’t bad either. A young guy who has a good future ahead of. It probably won’t be with this team, but someone will take him on.

Upside:  easy to be a star on this team

Downside:  gets buried with all the losing

Score:  + 1

Third base:

Pedro Alvarez. Another good rookie who should have a future. Good power in half a season. Too many strikeouts and too few walks for him, but it should get better with experience. His defense isn’t good, which is a problem all around the infield, but he’s young and has a good future. There is finally some hope for this team if they all start to develop, but they have to keep them all.

Upside:  should only get better

Downside:  will he still be with the team when they need him the most

Score:  + 1

Short stop:

Ronny Cedeno. Another young guy, but a veteran, and another one I’m not sure why they picked up. His defense is bad for a short stop, and he doesn’t hit at all. No average, no walks, no power and limited extra bases. He did run a little bit last year, but not enough to overcome everything else. Another rookie, any rookie, would be better suited for this team.

Upside:  should be replaced soon

Downside:  no one to do it

Score:  - 2

Left field:

Jose Tabata. The last of the amigo’s, he had a good rookie season as well. He hit for average and walked at a good rate for a young guy, and doesn’t strike out too much. No power to speak of, but he does run well. Good defense in left field, but no so much in center, which is where you might want him. They can live with it for now, and he’s got time to get better.

Upside:  lots of time to get better

Downside:  sophomore slump

Score:   + 1


Andrew McCutcheon. Actually the fourth ace, if they all get played properly. No sophomore slump for him, and he was the best hitter on the team last year. Showing power and extra base power. Runs well and gets around the base. Walks and doesn’t strikeout too much. The defense isn’t great, but he’s not the only one. He’s young, and will get better. Much better.

Upside:  is going to be the star of the team

Downside:  won’t be on the team long

Score:  + 1

Right field:

Garret Jones. Not who I would really want in right field at this stage, as he can’t get it done defensively. His hitting was well off of the previous year, and you have to hope it was a sophomore slump. Still, he’s too old to be starting out here so Overbay can be at first. He has the power, but doesn’t get on base enough and strikes out too much. Can hit some doubles, but doesn’t really run either. A strange move.

Upside:  ends up back at first after Overbay is traded

Downside:  doesn’t bounce back from the slump

Score: -1

Pinch hitter/general utility:

Matt Diaz. Starting the decline, but still a professional hitter. He’ll play the corners, and pinch hit. He can get on base, and he has medium power. His defense is okay, and he can help out at first, if needed. He might end up back in right field if Jones can’t make it, or when Overbay is traded. He’s the kind of veteran the team needs to pick up, not guys who are taking away jobs.

Upside:  last year was just a down year

Downside:  can’t get the stroke back

Score:   0

Backup catcher:

Ryan Doumit. But only until they can dump his salary for pretty much anything. Houston and Boston should be calling soon. His defense is bad, and he isn’t hitting anymore, although he did start drawing walks again. Has medium power and can hit doubles, and isn’t actually as bad as his reputation is getting to be. If he can hit at all, he could end up in a platoon.

Upside:  starts to hit again

Downside:  the reputation is true

Score:  - 1

Backup first baseman:

Garrett Jones. Which would be a good thing, because it will mean Overbay is gone. Jones is better suited to first base defensively and hits the same. This might mean that Diaz is the starter in right field, or someone else gets the job, but its addition by subtraction. There is a good future, but it isn’t with Jones in right field. Still a strange, strange decision.

Upside: gets him out of right field

Downside:  no one to play right field

Score:  0

Back-up infielder:

Josh Rodriguez. A career minor leaguer who should get the chance. He can play all over the field, even though he isn’t good at short stop. He can play the other positions well. He’s hit better the last couple of years in the minors, and can draw a walk. They really shouldn’t need him a lot, as the others will go 140 games plus. That will give him a chance to ease in.

Upside:  doesn’t have to do too much

Downside:  can’t play short

Score:  - 2

Back-up outfielder:

John Bowker. A big guy who can play the outfield and first base, he might get the chance. He has good power and can hit doubles. He doesn’t run much, but his defense is good and will help the team. He strikes out way too much and doesn’t walk very much. More plate discipline will get him more playing time. He could get more playing time depending on what happens with Jones in right field.

Upside:  could hit a lot of homeruns if he plays regularly

Downside:  going to strike out even more

Score:  - 1

Rotation (front 3):

Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, and Kevin Correia.  As good as the future for the hitters could be, the pitching is that bad. They aren’t good. They don’t pitch enough innings, strike out enough batters, or do anything that really needs to be done. They aren’t really that old, but they’ve all been around long enough that they aren’t developing any more. The team might score, but it won’t be enough.

Upside:  can’t be any worse than it has been

Downside:  nothing to look forward to

Score:  - 2

Rotation (back end):

James McDonald and Charlie Morton. McDonald is as much the future for the staff as they have. He had a good year last year, and should get better. He needs to pitch deeper into the game. Good strikeout to walk ratio and he doesn’t give up homeruns, which will help a lot. Morton hasn’t done much of anything and is a filler piece right now. He’ll have to improve dramatically to be good.

Upside:  McDonald has a future

Downside:  he can’t do it alone

Score:  0


Evan Meek, Chris Resop, Chris Leroux, Daniel McCutcheon, and Scott Olsen. Not much there except for Meek. He’ll be a good setup man if there is anything to set up. The rest haven’t done anything, and have it done it in very few innings. This is going to be a huge problem, as they won’t be able to bridge the gap between the starters and the closer. Not that there will be anything to bridge.

Upside: Meek will be the best pitcher on the staff

Downside:  he’ll be the only one to make the entire year

Score:  - 1


Joel Hanrahan. A good pitcher who will get his first chance to close. Lots of strikeouts and not many hits or homeruns. Too many walks, but he can survive them. The biggest question is will he ever have any games to actually save? He’ll get a few, but it won’t really make any difference. He’s young, so he needs to start working into two inning saves now.

Upside:  will prove that saves aren’t the measure of a closer

Downside:  lowest save total for a closer in history

Score:  + 1

Team speed (which includes base running):

Good. Young players who can run, and should run more as they get playing time. Good range in the outfield, but not so good in the infield. This team should run, and run a lot. They need all the help they can get on offense and defense, and speed is one area where they can be good. The biggest problem is that they have a lot of guys who don’t have any.

Upside:  could lead the league in stolen bases

Downside:  they can’t steal home if they can’t get on base

Score:  + 1

Team defense:

Not so good yet. There are some places, such as catcher and left field, but that’s it. They’ll give away a lot of runs, but it won’t really matter much, as the pitching staff will give up more. There is hope that the young guys will get better, but there is no guarantee. They are grooming hitters, not glove men. That’s probably a good idea at this stage of things.

Upside:  the new guys coming in have gloves

Downside:  they keep signing old guys who don’t

Score:  - 1

Team batting:

Not really. One of the worst offensives in the game. They rank last, next to last, or next to that in almost every category. There are some good young hitters coming up and there is hope for the future, as long as they don’t get traded off. Right now, however, they don’t do anything well at all. They play in a hitter’s park, so that’s really not a good thing.

Upside:  the future

Downside:  do they have one?

Score:  - 2

Team pitching:

Not here either. Worse than offense and there really isn’t any future here. Short relievers are not the future of a good pitching rotation. They will get clobbered again, and there is nothing they can do about it. There will be flashes of brilliance from individuals, but nothing approaching success of any kind. They have some young players to trade for pitching, but then what do they do for the offense?

Upside:  can’t be as bad as the ’62 Mets

Downside:  yes they can

Score:  - 2

Total score:    - 8

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