2008 Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Preview
The Pittsburgh Pirates (68- 94) have had 15 straight losing seasons, and it looks like this season they will tie the major league record of 16, set by Philadelphia. That’s sad news for a team that many years ago was one of the finest franchises in the league.
If good teams start with pitching, then the Pirates have no chance of fielding a good team. The team’s rotation is weak and the bullpen is even weaker. The team ERA was 4.93—14th in the league. Lefty Tom Gorzelanny (14- 10, 3.88 ERA, 135 SO) led the team in wins and was second in ERA and K’s. Righty Ian Snell (9- 12, 3.76 ERA, 177 SO) was tops in earned run average and strikeouts. Right-hander Matt Morris and left-hander Paul Maholm posted 10 wins each but Morris had a 4.89 ERA and Maholm a 5.02 ERA. It’s a troublesome rotation. Matt Capps (4- 7, 2.28 ERA, 18 SV, 64 SO, .220 BAA) seems to have the stuff to be a true closer. Lefty Damaso Marte (2- 0, 2.38 ERA, 51 SO, .200 BAA) is a fine setup man.
In hitting, Pittsburgh ranks in the bottom third of the NL. Runs, home runs and runs batted in were all rated 12th in 2007. Don’t expect much change in any of those areas. The middle of the infield produced the most havoc as far as offense is concerned. 2B Freddy Sanchez (.304 BA, 11 HR, 81 RBI) is a pure contact hitter, while SS Jack Wilson (.296 BA, 12 HR, 56 RBI) connects with the ball to create stinging liners. 1B Adam Laroche .272 BA, 21 HR, 88 RBI) offers significant power. The entire outfield can put the ball over the fence.
The one highlight for the Bucs was their fielding. They were first in double plays and tied for second in fielding percentage. The infield is fairly solid, except for Jose Bautista at third. Left fielder Jason Bay is the best of those in the outfield.
The Pirates new manager is their former third base coach John Russel. Although fans may doubt that he should have been hired, since he was fired as third base coach, the fact is that Russel possesses a fine minor league record as a skipper. GM Neal Huntington wants to create a culture of winning. The question is—how can he do that with a lowly $40 million payroll?
For more info on Pittsburgh check out the MLB website for the Pirates.