Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pittsburgh Pirates baseball Preview

by Steve

New skipper Joel Skinner and the new Pirates regime have more than a lot of work that needs to be done for this franchise to be something other than a joke. Their highest paid player is pitcher Matt Morris and their team salary is $160 million less than the Yankees. The only decent player I would want to watch right now is Tom Gorzelanny and he has had a horrid spring. This is going to be ugly...

Ok, I don't hate their infield. Adam LaRoche is still pretty young and can compile numbers. Perhaps last year was just a hiccup in a transformation from the East to the Central, even though the time zones are the same, who knows. He needs to have a career year for the 'rats at 1b. When Freddy Sanchez is healthy he is really good, I mean he did win a batting title. But right now his shoulder is acting up and after signing a new 3 year deal thats never good for the team. 27 year old Jose Bautista had a decent '07 but his batting average was bad. If he is a viable 3b he needs to get his power numbers up. Last but not least, kinda, is SS Jack Wilson, he is a middle of the road player offensively and at 30 isn't going to get better. Ronny Paulino may surprise people this year by making the All-Star game. He can hit for average and has some power. The right handed catcher has a young pitching staff and needs to become a leader for this franchise.

Jason Bay had an embarrassing 2007. The right handed left fielder was suppose to be some what of a savior for this franchise but digressed last year. I could see a come back in '08 but I can also picture him being a product of roids. No idea who the centerfielder is, either McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, or Chris Duffy. None are too impressive but Morgan has the most upside and least experience in the majors. At least they didn't throw mad jack at someone like Aaron Rowand. Ex Met/Padre Xavier Nady had a typical Pirates season with a bad batting average 20 dingers and 73 rbis. He is a nice guy to have towards the end of your lineup but certainly no clean up guy.

Finally, some promise! Everyone should know Gorzelanny at this point. He is a future ace and former high draft pick. He was suppose to be pitching behind Matt Morris but instead is about 3 spots higher in the rotation than the $10 million man. Being a lefty helps his stock in my eyes as well. Ian Snell is a decent #2 with upside. He could be poised for a breakout year. Paul Maholm is nothing special, but is a lefty, and will be in the majors for at least another 10 years and make ridiculous jack. He is still really young, 25, but needs to learn to win games. Then again when your offense is anemic, it takes more than quality pitches sometimes. The third lefty in the rotation, yes third lefty, is the up and down once savior Zack Duke, soon to be 25. He is young but inconsistent. He took the league to the league like gang busters in'05 going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 starts but has failed to be remotely a shadow of that amazing year. Maybe a change of scenery ala Oli Perez may be needed or, quality coaching and facilities, err and a winning organization.

Teams win when they have good quality pitching and a defense that can save runs. The Pirates might have both, but with such a young rotation and Matt Morris teetering on an awful signing, the Pirates could be taking one step forward and two steps back. Maybe new GM Neal Huntington will lead a renaissance in Pittsburgh, just don't look for it to start right away, or in 2008.

Record 71-91

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