The Pirates organization has been quiet during the winter months, adding only a few key players; Russel Martin and Mark Melancon. After trading their closer, Joel Hanrahan, to the Red Sox as well as a good number of pitchers to various teams and free agency, I have to wonder what their up to. The Pirates pitching staff is led by veterans AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez, both of whose velocity has disappeared with time. Other starters include James McDonald, Kyle McPherson, and Charlie Morton (elbow surgery). The majority of these starters must heavily rely on their off-speed pitches to be effective against the hitters, while McDonald lacks command in most everything but his fastball. With Morton not returning until mid-summer, I don't see the depth in this staff--especially if another starter goes down. The bullpen will have to step up in a big fashion to help this club win games.
|NL Allstar Andrew McCutchen participates in the|
2012 Home Run Derby.
The Pirates lineup, excluding 2012 Allstar and NL MVP Candidate Andrew McCutchen, consists of names that scream "what if." "What if" Pedro Alvarez was more patient at the plate (180 K's in 2012), we know of his raw power. "What if" Neil Walker can stay healthy and provide production in front of McCutchen. "What if" guys like Clint Barmes, Starling Marte, and Garret Jones didn't chase so many pitches... yeah "what if." We've seen what these guys can do when they are all meshing... but this will need to happen a lot more in the upcoming season if the Pirates hope to finally end that losing nightmare.
|Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle looks on with disgust|
as his club collapses yet again.
The bottom line for this club is that unfortunately 2013 doesn't look like their year either. The pitching staff lacks depth and command from a few of their starters, and the lineup is filled with streaky hitters and free swingers. It won't help that the NL Central lost the division's "little brother," the Houston Astros, whom every team could count on padding the win total against--(Pittsburgh finished the 2012 season 12-5 against the Astros). Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle along with the Pittsburgh faithful will have to continue to be patient with this impatient lineup as the 2013 season unfolds.
Here's looking at you, Clint.
*Projected NL Central finish: 5th
*Fantasy Standout: Andrew McCutchen