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Friday, March 5, 2010

2010 Pittsburgh Pirates season preview

2009 Record: 62-99   .385
Run differential: -132
Seventeen.  That’s the number of consecutive losing seasons the Pirates have put up since narrowly missing the World Series in 1992.  It appeared a .500 record was achievable when the club was just a few games under in early June.  To his credit, GM Neal Huntington realized a .500 record in one season would not lead them to greater things in the future. Consequently the remaining big names on the roster were shipped off. First was All-Star Nate McLouth to Atlanta even though he had just signed an extension the previous season to become the face of the franchise.  Also traded were Jack Wilson, Ian Snell, Nyjer Morgan, Adam LaRoche, and Freddy Sanchez.  These trades left Ryan Doumit as the only remaining starter from 2008 opening day and resulted in a flurry of prospects that the organization believes will be key components to the next competitive Pirate team as they rebuild. But perhaps the most promising sign was their continued focus of signing amateur talent.  Although their draft received mixed reviews, the team consistently paid over slot for its picks despite their previous history and the commissioner’s office recommendations not to do so.  Five million dollars was also devoted to opening the franchise’s new academy in the DR.
There’s hope for 2010 though. 
No, the team isn’t likely to break their major league record streak of consecutive losing seasons.  But there are some exciting players on the roster. CF Andrew McCutchen finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting (although he should have finished first) and is clearly an all-star talent if not more.  Ryan Doumit should be over his injury woes as he looks to re-find his swing from ’08, Zack Duke and Paul Maholm form a decent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, and the team is expecting a break out season from Lastings Milledge.  Top prospect Pedro Alvarez should also be ready by July or August though it remains to be seen if the can stay at third base for the long haul. It’s a long way to the top for this team and to the organization’s credit this has been acknowledged and a plan created to achieve their goals. Only time will tell if it’s successful.
Likely opening day roster:
My Two Cents
Ryan Doumit
If healthy is a top 5 NL catcher. Sadly, that’s a big if.
Jason Jaramillo
Solid defensive catcher should have long career.
Jeff Clement
Now, a 1bman, likely is last chance to impress
Akinori Iwamura
Solid player may be trade bait come deadline
Andy LaRoche
Better hit now because Alvarez is coming
Ronny Cedeno
I like this guy but he’s probably not starting material
Lastings Milledge
New attitude = improved performance?
Andrew McCutchen
Not sure if I like watching him hit or field better.
Garrett Jones
Won’t slug .550 again but .460 should keep him as starter
Bobby Crosby
Can’t: stay healthy, hit, stop complaining about PT
Ramon Vazquez
UT guy who can’t play SS
Ryan Church
Underrated player with chance to steal ABs
Delwyn Young
Butcher at 2B but heckuva pinch hitter
Paul Maholm
Good control but low K rate is worrisome
Zack Duke
Innings eater still searching for ’07 repeat
Ross Ohlendorff
Interned w/ Dept of Agriculture in off-season
Charlie Morton
Confidence issues only thing holding him back
Daniel McCutcheon
Team desperately wants him to win 5th starting spot
Octavio Dotel
Expect high K’s and blown save totals
Joel Hanrahan
Hard heat but control lapses hurt
Kevin Hart
Starting him is like milk on a hot day
Evan Meek
Rule V pick impressed las season
Brendon Donnelly
At 39 how long can he remain successful?
Javier Lopez
LOOGY wasn’t even that last season
DJ Carrasco
Should be a rubber armed ROOGY
Say hello to: Octavio Dotel, Bobby Crosby, Ramon Vazquez, Akinori Iwamura, Ryan Church, DJ Carrasco, Javier Lopez, Brendan Donnelly
Wave goodbye: Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez,
Rookies: Daniel McCutcheon – Doesn’t rank high on the “stuff’ scale but knows how to pitch.
Potential breakout: Jeff Clement – Last chance though a move to the JV league will help
Top Prospect: Pedro Alvarez is knocking on the door and his power potential has him as a universal top 10 prospect.
Welcome to Earth: Garrett Jones - Sure, everyone is writing him off as a one year wonder, but I see no way he can repeat his .550 SLG.
Likely to rebound: Ryan Doumit, Akinori Iwamura
Top 3 players: McCutchen, Doumit, Pedro Alvarez when he gets here
Prediction: 71-91, 6th place NL Central

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