Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 MLB Preview #22: Pittsburgh Pirates

Greetings... remember when the Pirates were a complete joke?... Not so anymore...


C - Rod Barajas
1B - Garrett Jones/Casey McGehee
2B - Neil Walker
SS - Clint Barmes
3B - Pedro Alvarez/Casey McGehee
LF - Alex Presley/Nate McLouth
CF - Andrew McCutchen
RF - Jose Tabata

There are holes, and there is upside. Andrew McCutchen is already an elite player with an .820 OPS, 23 homers, 23 steals and world-class D out in center field. He's a monster. After that, it gets a little more dicey. Guys like Tabata, Presley and Garrett Jones have shown flashes, but none has produced at a big-time level in the majors. Neil Walker is a nice bat at second base, but nothing special, and the veterans (Barajas and Barmes) are major-league options, but nothing to write home about. The big key? Pedro Alvarez. The former 1st-round pick hit just .191 in 235 major league AB's last year in his first real campaign, and after rumors of 40-homer potential, that was a tough pill to swallow. If they are going to remotely challenge for a spot in the September races, he needs to mash.

Starting Rotation

1 - Erik Bedard
2 - James McDonald
3 - Jeff Karstens
4 - Kevin Correia
5 - Charlie Morton

One of the weirder staffs in the entire major leagues. Bedard is always good when he actually pitches. Career 3.70 ERA with nearly as many K's as innings, and elite stuff when he has it going. The problem? The last time he wasn't hurt for a large part of the season was 2007 in Baltimore, and he's only made 30 starts once in his career (2006). If he's healthy, he's really good, if he's not, he doesn't help you. McDonald has the best stuff of the rest, and after a brutal start to 2011, he rebounded nicely with a sub-4.00 ERA in the 2nd half. Karstens, Correia, and Morton all overachieved with respect to their career marks last year, but at least one case (Morton) can be explained by wholesale changes to his repertoire. Nobody scares you here outside of Bedard when he's right, but no one is downright awful.


Joel Hanrahan had a tremendous year in 2011 (1.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8 Ks per 9, 40 saves) and looks to recapture that magic again. They have a very good set-up man in Evan Meek and Chris Resop heads up the rest. The long guys get pretty ugly, but if they can get production from Hanrahan and Meek like in 2011, they'll be semi-decent.


77-85, 4th in NL Central

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