2010 Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Preview
The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates (62-99) were over .500 for the season was when George Bush was president. That’s George Herbert Walker Bush. It was 1992. Although the Pirates look quite different than they did a few years ago, this will be the team’s 18th straight season where they post losing numbers.
The best of the lot last season was third starter Ross Ohlendorf (11-10, 3.92 ERA, 109 SO) who came over from the Mets in midseason of 2008. Ohlendorf is a sinking fastball throwing workhorse who can work either side of the plate. The initial man in the rotation is the highly competitive Paul Maholm (8-9, 4.44 ERA, 119 SO); he offers a deceptive delivery that includes a 90-mph fastball and a curve that changes speeds. Lefty Zach Duke (11-16, 4.06 ERA, 106 SO) mixes speeds well and keeps the ball away from hitters.
The pen includes Joel Hanrahan (1-4, 4.78 ERA, 5 SV, 37 SO) and Steven Jackson (2-3, 3.14 ERA, 21 SO). Although Hanrahan is designated as the closer, he really doesn’t have the stuff. His fastball runs 92 to 95-mph, but his command is unreliable, which can get him into trouble quickly. Jackson serves the role of long reliever. When all is said and done, the starting rotation and pen are both thin.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen (.286 BA, 12 HR, 24 RBI) proved to be a solid leadoff man in his rookie season. His exceptionally quick bat and fast hands make the ball jump off his bat. He also has fine power and speed. Last season, he used his speed to swipe 22 bases. In the field, he covers a lot of territory and has excellent closing speed. Second baseman Akinori Iwamura (.290 BA, 1 HR, 22 RBI) is a contact hitter who sprays the ball to every field. In the field, he shows good double play capabilities. Akinori sat out the last three months of the season due to knee surgery.
In his first full season, Garrett Jones (.293 BA, 21 HR, 44 RBI) revealed fine power and overall consistency. In the field, he’s best at first base. Last season, Ryan Doumit (.250 BA, 10 HR, 38 RBI) struggled with a wrist injury, losing a good 50 points off his average. Behind the plate, he displays inconsistent play.
GM Neal Huntington went to work in 2009, rearranging, realigning and making major changes in the club. The plan is to build a young club of talented guys and the Pirates seem dedicated to that scheme as they’ve paid $18.7 million in draft bonuses over the past two years. That’s the most of any MLB franchise. It is going to take some time and patience. And although manager John Russell will never be accused of being frenetic, at least he does possess patience.
This is a wait until next, next, next year team. But with a club that’s tight with the purse strings, there aren’t many choices; such organizations have to grown talent on the farm and possibly sign a marquee pitcher and a premium everyday player. If the Bucs can notch 70 wins, they will have made progress.
For more info on Pittsburgh check out the MLB website for the Pirates.