Wednesday, March 16, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

The 2005 Pirates will bring you more of the same: last place with a few inspiring players chugging along surrounded by mediocrity. This time around, its Jason Bay rather than Brian Giles, and Oliver Perez instead of Jason Schmidt. Recognizing this trend keeps me from optimism, sadly.

Todd Ritchie, SP: Ritchie is returning to the place where he originally became overrated. He hasn't done anything impressive at all in the last few seasons, and his signing is not really anything to get excited about. If he can pitch half decently he might get flipped to a desperate contender come July, or at the least a team who thinks they are a contender *cough 2004 Mets cough*.

Acquired Benito Santiago for Leo Nunez. This trade makes no sense, except to replace Jason Kendall. Are you going to tell me the Pirates didn't have anyone in their organization who catches? Santiago probably isn't valuable enough to get traded by July 31st.

Acquired Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes for Jason Kendall. This move accomplishes the goal the Pirates have been focused on almost since Kendall signed his contract: getting rid of him. Redman should improve on last year's performance, but not to a point where you stop missing Kendall. Arthur Rhodes will never see action in a Pirates uniform, because...

Acquired Matt Lawton for Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes was flipped to the Indians to shore up their bullpen, and the Pirates acquired Matt Lawton for their part. A good bat to have, especially since Dave Littlefield seems to do a good job assembling bullpens out of low cost talent.

1) Matt Lawton (there is no one else to do the job)
2) Jack Wilson
3) Jason Bay
4) Craig Wilson
5) Rob Mackowiak
6) Benito Santiago
7) Tike Redman
8) Jose Castillo

The lineup will be weak because of the sad excuses for 6-9 spots in the lineup, plus the necessity of having Lawton lead off rather than in the #5 or #2 hole, adding more depth to the lineup. I like Jack Wilson, but I don't expect his first half of 2004 again. Expect a middle ground between the two halves in 2005. Jason Bay is the new Brian Giles, and expect the same kind of production, although with less walks than one of the heroes of OBP. Craig Wilson is the power hitting Wilson, and I'll take that. Rob Mackowiak is one of those players who is kind of stretched in a starting role, and would serve better as a utility guy. Santiago is past his prime, past his rejuvenated prime, and probably past his usefulness. Tike Redman and Jose Castillo's averages and OBP's made me quite sad. I'm not sure I can talk about them much longer...

1) Oliver Perez
2) Kip Wells
3) Josh Fogg
4 and 5: Sean Burnett/Ryan Vogelsong/Mark Redman

The rotation starts out on a good enough note, with Perez and Kip Wells a good enough 1-2 combo, but quickly deteriorates. Sean Burnett needs to increase his strikeouts or else his sinkerball tendencies will be all for naught. Ryan Vogelsong got hammered in 2004. Josh Fogg probably works better as a spot starter in a long relief role, and Mark Redman is capable of being good, but Jack McKeon's inability to call his bullpen out soon enough in 2003 may have taken its tole on Redman's arm.

The bullpen is made up of castoffs and cheap talent, with the likes of Jose Mesa and Solomon Torres in tow. Pittsburgh's bullpen is actually pretty effective most of the time, but the rotation and lineup never really stack up well enough to do anything. Not to mention if they are playing .500 at the deadline any veteran of substance is shipped off giving the Pirates no chance to finish at anything close to a decent record. Expect more of the same from this boring little team, but make sure you don't discount the accomplishments of those who excite. Jason Bay and Oliver Perez are great talents that should succeed despite the team that surrounds them for years to come.

Comments:
I made a teeny mistake. Sean Burnett is actually out for the year with an injury...but I'll blame ESPN.com for telling me he is their #5 starter on the depth chart. *shakes fist at ESPN*
 
the white sox always thought they had a talented arm in ritchie but he never did pan out...santiago will need an elderly-person walker by july after his crickity knees stiffen up in the croutch under that hot summer sun, they got rid of kendall's contract after years of trying to do so and then they bring in an over the hill veteran instead of bringing up inexpensive young talent? there is a reason the pirates will never contend...lawton for rhodes, john hart what are you thinking!? i know your bullpen is bad but you might as well have traded lawton to get jose mesa back...great point, mackowiak is a nice player but maybe does not have the skills to play every day in the majors, bay and wilson are the two highlights in the lineup...oliver perez would be a star if he pitched anywhere other than pittsburg, if he can ever manage to escape from the pirates grasp and play for a team in the nations eye he will garner great attention, kip wells has also been one of the better pitchers in the NL for the past few seasons...pnc park is beautiful but you still need W's to fill the seats and to get on national television and until that happens pittsburg's young talent will go unnoticed, as i say that i do respect the fact jason bay was awarded ROY this is still pittsburg we are talking about, not montreal-jt
 
Glad to see you back, Johnny T, I was actually just wondering where you've been online. Mark Shapiro is GM of the Indians now remember? Hart is in Texas (go ARod contract, go!) I agree with the trade solely because the Indians have a glut (yes, I said glut) of young, talented outfielders. Its the same reason they traded Milton Bradley so easily last year. I'll take Rhodes over Mesa, because at least Rhodes is not using smoke and mirrors in order to get people out. Mesa's time will run out, and it will be around the time he is flipped to a contending team, and Dave Littlefield can laugh all the way to the mid-talent range corner outfielder he picks up to add to his collection. That wasn't supposed to be mean, but it happens.
 
How do you like all the changes to the site so far? More traffic, buttons, a logo? I got some collaborations with other online baseball writers coming up sometime as well, including a Twins/Red Sox item, which I know you'll enjoy.
 
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