I felt like I was stuck in a time-warp as I had been writing this and researching for a solid two hours, but the clock barely turned. Then a friend of mine pointed out that it is indeed the night we turn the clocks back.
I was relieved to find out I wasn’t going insane, but also reliving 2010 Pirates stats is enough to drive any person mad.
So in some zany, time warp fashion, this entry will fall before the coaching staff entry, which it shouldn’t have.
I’m probably the only once who cares about this though, so let’s move along and dive right into this:
Non-Tender Candidates – Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche, Delwyn Young, Jeff Karstens.
Zach’s gone. There’s no two ways about that. He just isn’t performing and is past his prime, which is a real shame considering the Brewers were willing to part with JJ Hardy for him around this time last year.
Andy’s here to stay. Expect to see him getting work all around the infield. If he can play a good enough shortstop he can provide some flexibility off the bench, plus keeping him around avoids having another potential Jose Baustista situation and nobody wants another one of those.
Delwyn will not be non-tendered. Anyone who says he will is out of their mind, he’s just way too valuable as a hitter. He’s a solid hitter off the bench and would have a lot of trade value with an AL team looking for a DH. His glove work is below average but he can play the corner outfield positions and some second base. Don’t ever think about third base…that was horrendous. If Del-Y’s leaving it’s through trade, his talent won’t be wasted.
Jeff seems to be a candidate for being non-tendered but he remains a solid 6th starter and long relief guy. The issue there is that guys like him grow on trees. He could be some nice icing on the cake in a trade deal. I don’t really expect him to go.
Zach Duke was wildly ineffective in 2010. In the season following his 2009 All-Star campaign, Duke posted an ugly 5.27 ERA.
Starting Pitching – Dave Bush
I expect the Pirates to dig up one “diamond in the rough” type pitcher this off-season. I wouldn’t expect anything mind blowing, and I doubt they’ll get a very long contract. We have a ton of talent coming up in the next few seasons in the pitching department. Expect the guy they sign to get a one or two year contract. It will most likely be a guy coming off a bum or mediocre year, that can be signed low but can eat up innings. My pick would be Dave Bush. The Pittsburgh native is serviceable, familiar with NL-Central hitters, and isn’t too old at age 30, Bush is also going into free agency for the first time as reports say that Brewers officials are urging him to test free agency. He seems to be the Pirates type of guy.
First Base – Steve Pearce/Garrett Jones or John Bowker
Almost everybody expects Huntington to go out and look for a solid right handed first baseman with some pop in his bat.Why go outside the organization when it’s going to be there in spring training? Steve Pearce has been cheated out of a good look as a first baseman, first being blocked by Adam LaRoche and later having season ending surgery after demolishing Triple A pitching and getting a call up. He’ll most definitely platoon with either Jones or Bowker. Personally I think Jones plays some much better defense in right field.
Right Field – Lastings Milledge/Garrett Jones or John Bowker
Milledge was ridiculous this past season with runners in scoring position, and hit pretty well despite a major power outage. I’d expect to see him split time with either Jones or Bowker. I made my case for Jones here. With the Jones/Milledge/Bowker/Pearce combo out there night after night I’d assume you could count on a solid 25 homers from each position. That would be a great improvement over this past year. The downside in right field is that Milledge takes some pretty interesting routes to the ball, makes a lot of unnecessary diving catches because of it. Hey, it looks nice though.
Bush has a career 4.68 ERA and is coming off a mediocre season, going 8-13 with a 4.54 ERA in 2010 with 107 strikeouts.
Now onto the good stuff, finally!
1. James McDonald – This guys our staff ace currently. He’s got some powerful stuff and can use it.
2. Paul Maholm – Paul’s reliable, for the most part at least. We know what we’re going to get out of him. He’ll probably be trade bait at the deadline though as long as the boys from AA Altoona perform well in AAA and have successful call up stints.
3. Ross Ohlendorf – This guy’s an absolute workhorse and was unfortunately sidelined a great deal due to injuries and when he wasn’t had more than sub par defense behind him. The only reason he’s #3 and not #2 is because most managers like to split up their lefties and righties at the top of the rotation.
4. Free Agent Pitcher/Brian Burres/Brad Lincoln – This spot will be a toss up going into Spring Training unless NH finds a solid starter to fill the void. Burres showed some real poise as a starter at the end of the season and put the thought into our heads that he could go out and do it every five days. Lincoln’s a guy who claims to have suffered from some mechanical changes that Joe Kerrigan had him try out. Let’s hope this former first-round pick fixes his stuff and comes out and deals. He borderline dominated Triple A and with a fastball that hits 96, he’d be a nice face to see in the rotation. If Burres gets the Nod, Lincoln ends up in Triple A. If Lincoln gets the spot in the rotation Burres will end up in long relief.
5. Charlie Morton – Morton is an interesting guy. going 0-9 in hist first 9 starts in 2010 after being projected as a potential ace early in his career. He seems to work well with Searage, and has made some major strides. Let’s hope he gets his act together and finally puts in some good work. We all know he has “great stuff” but let’s see it in action this year. If he goes with his fastball and overpowers hitters instead of dancing around the strike zone and trying to finesse guys then I think he’ll be excellent for this young team.
Daniel McCutchen -He’s a solid arm with great control. He can also spot start if need be.
Jeff Karstens/Brian Burres – Karstens is much like McCutchen but is out of options. Burres would supply a second lefty out of the ‘pen who can get both sides of the plate out.
Jose Ascanio -As long as Spring Training goes well managment’s going to want to get a good look at this guy, finally.
Wil Ladezma – With a mid 90’s fastball, some decent control, and a recently signed contract, expect this guy to be out lefty specialist.
Chris Resop – This waiver claim put on a show at the end of the season and looks comparable to Evan Meek. He’s a lock.
Joel Hanrahan – He looks to be a solid set up man, and throws straight fire. Lacks control at times though.
Evan Meek – Closer for sure. Do I really need to explain? 2010 All-Star, legitimately.
Ledezma was recently inked to a one year contract for 2011. The left-hander appears to be an integral part of the 2011 bullpen.
1. Andrew McCutchen CF – Cutch is your a-typical leadoff guy and one of the best young stars in the game.
2. Jose Tabata LF – Solid defense and speed in PNC park’s giant left field. A steady bat with discipline keeps him in the two-hole.
3. Neil Walker 2B – Neil is capable of becoming one of the top second basemen in the game. Some have suggested moving him to third and Alvarez to third, but that would rob Neil of crucial developmental time at second and Anthony Rendon is almost a certain lock for our #1 pick in this years draft. If he keeps hitting he can remain in the three hole and supply a solid 20-25 HR’s
4. Pedro Alvarez 3B – Alavarez is a budding star and has a ton of raw power. He’s your prototypical clean-up man. He should get better at 3B and showed some flashes of brilliance in ’10 at the position, but is inevitably going to move to first in the future.
5. Garret Jones/Steve Pearce RF/1B – These guys could combine for a solid 30+ homers and provide steady bats with some pop, especially in a platoon situation.
6. John Bowker/Lastings Milledge 1B/RF – Bowker destroys righties, Milledge kills lefties. In a platoon they could be solid RBI guys and combine for a good 15-20 home runs. Both could be insane against their opposites pitching wise.
7. Ronny Cedeno SS – This guy is absolutely mind blowing. He has some fierce power and has potential to beat pitchers up. He’s quick, great hands, and has terrific range, but then he’ll blow plays, and bunt with two outs. The man is a true enigma. He has shortstop locked up for the time being. I look for him to hit about .255 with around 10 HR.
8. Chris Snyder C – Snyder’s a great defensive catcher with some pop. He has great plate discipline, but can’t hit for average. He always has a great OPS though. Look for a .235 average with about 15 HR.
With platoons already factored into the lineup that leaves three bench spots.
Ryan Doumit C,RF,1B – Doumit probably won’t be traded but will provide a solid backup catcher with pop and will see time in RF and unfortunately 1B.
Andy LaRoche 3B, INF – Andy will stick around and be our utility guy. He’s a great guy, especially in the community and has potential to blow up at any minute. Like I said earlier, if he can get shortstop down he’s got a bench spot locked. The position shouldn’t provide a problem as LaRoche played short in college and was drafted as SS.
Andy LaRoche showcased some impressive defense in 2009, but struggled in 2010. LaRoche also has showed pop in his bat at times. He has been servicable as a backup option and could become a more integral part of the bench if he can return to the shortstop position.
One thing Pirates fans can always count on is that there will be movement at the trade deadline.
Garrett Jones/Jeff Clement – Jones had a rather diappointing sophomore campaign in 2010, but if the Pirates can work him enough and build up some value they may be able to move him for a decent return in 2011. Jeff Clement will more than likely start 2011 in the minors so it will give him time to continue to work on his swing and defense in case he is provided an opputunity to step into Jones’ shoes at some point. Clement would be a nice platoon partner for Steve Pearce as well, as Clement hit seven home runs with his time with the Pirates this year, which was roughly about a third of the time Jones had. Mathematically that would put Clement at 21 homeruns, even with Jones’ total in 2010. Clement could also be argued as a trade candidate but Jones would draw more attention due to his impressive 2009 rookie year.
Paul Maholm – Maholm has been the most consistent pitcher for the Pirates, as the coaching staff and fans pretty much know what to expect from him every time he steps onto the mound. Maholm has drawn some trade interest from many of teams, especially the Dodgers this past season. If Maholm holds it together he could be a big move at the deadline as by then Rudy Owens or Justin Wilson will be likely to be ready to take his place in the rotation.
Various Minor Leaguers – This topic is up for debate. Are the Pirates in the stage where they can start pawning off some of their talented, yet road blocked minor leaguers? I’d say so, especially in the outfield department. The Pirates could easily part with some select players in the near future to bring in a more useful return. Look for Chase d’Arnaud, Jordy Mercer, Gorkys Hernandez, and Starling Marte’s names to come up. d’Arnaud and Mercer are pretty similar middle infield types who could be sued to sweeten a trade. Gorkys appears to be somewhat of a bust, and I would like to see Marte stick around, but with Andrew Lambo potentially on the horizon he may be dealt.
Ryan Doumit – His name comes up all the time, unfortunately other teams have seemed to stay way from him as thus far he appears to be damaged goods.
In the On-Deck Circle: 2011 Coaching Staff – Thoughts, Concerns, and Changes
I created this blog to fill the void that was left after the end of the baseball season and to get some practice in my newly found place in the journalism field. In this opening segment I will give a general overview of the baseball in Pittsburgh for those who may not be as familiar as others with it. Hopefully I’ll spark some interest in some new people or at least occupy your time while you could be doing something much more productive. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Every year on October 31st a portal between the world of the dead and the living and spirits run free amongst us for one evening. This evening is what we celebrate as Halloween. While All Hallows Eve may put a frightening punctuation on the month of October something even scarier than the dead walking happens to baseball fans across the nation. For the end of October brings the heart wrenching end to yet another glorious season in the sun.
For some, especially Pirates fans, the season ends much earlier for us as post season hopes for Pittsburgh baseball were dashed a generation ago with the hopes that Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla would sign long term contract extensions.
Bonds (right) and Bonilla (left) were two staples on the Pirates during their early 90’s pennant races. They both departed in 1993 to seek bigger contracts with bigger market teams.
Every fan has their speculation as to why the Pirates find themselves at a loss (or 90+) season after season. Whether those speculations be that upper management team members are lining their pockets with cash, or are too cheap to spend , all the way to the curse of Willie Stargell (For those of you unaware, our beloved Willie unfortunately passed away on April 9th, 2001, the same day PNC Park opened its gates.) Any way you chalk it up the Pittsburgh Pirates are the worst franchise in professional sports history. That is truly something to be embarrassed about.
Bob Nutting (Pictured above) is current majority owner of the Pirates and is highly criticized by many.
18 straight years of losing have left us nothing to look forward to except Spring Training and September call ups where, until recent years, not much beyond AAA scrubs have been displayed. Not to mention the countless draft picks that were squandered foolishly by past management. I will grant that the Littlefield/McClatchy era did bring about some former faces of the franchise, whether it be through scouting or fluke they managed to reel in Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, and Nate McLouth (All of whom were All-Stars in their tenure with the Pirates.)
The past management also brought in some budding young stars on today’s team, i.e. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker. (I suppose you could even throw Paul Maholm’s name in there as well though he isn’t exactly budding anymore)
Dave Littlefield (Pictured above) is former Pirates GM and is scrutinized by many fans.
These young stars have been supplemented by other stars and supporting cast by the newest management team of Bob Nutting, Frank Coonley, and Neal Huntington. This group has managed to bring in Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, James McDonald, Ross Ohlendorf and have most recently drafter a slew of promising youth in Tony Sanchez, Jameson Taillion, and Stetson Allie. This team has more than their fair share of complete busts though, which may be on account of bad scouting or just plain old bad luck.
A few players who haven’t panned out as planned are Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge, and Charlie Morton. Most recently Garrett Jones proved to be somewhat of a letdown as he barely matched his home run totals from his rookie season in his sophomore campaign. These are most definitely not the only players who have been busts, but some of the most prominent. All of the above players were acquired as a part of trade package except for Jones who was signed as a minor league free agent.
After a bad start to his Pirates carreer in 2008, LaRoche put together a solid 2009. Considered to be a dead lock for the second base position with the arrival of Pedro Alvarez, LaRoche was beat out by Neil Walker due to abysmal defense and an inconsistent bat in the 2010 season.
Coming up in the On-Deck Circle: 2011 25 Man Roster – Platoons and Puzzle Pieces