Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has done a fabulous job of putting together the best triple-A team in all of baseball. Unfortunately, that talented group of youngsters is the Pirates big league club.
The biggest problem facing this team is experience – they don’t have much. They are young with a lot of solid players that should develop into a decent to good team in a few years. Make no mistake, this squad isn’t about to be confused with the 2009 New York Yankees, but they are heading in the right direction.
As a Pittsburgher told me right before the team’s 82nd loss of 2009, “After we set the record, we’ll be done losing”. What he meant was that after the Pirates set the record for most losing seasons in a row, set last year at 17 straight seasons, they will be good enough to start winning. Although I think he was a little too optimistic about these rising youngsters, they are righting that Pirate ship.
With Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen, and Garrett Jones in the outfield and Jeff Clement and Andy LaRoche at the infield corners and Ryan Doumit behind the dish, the batting order is filled with power and speed. With Akinori Iwamura and Ronny Cedeno, they have slick fielders up the middle.
The pitching rotation is solid, yet unspectacular. They have five guys aged 27 or 28 and all with a career losing records, but playing in Pittsburgh will do that to your win-loss percentage. Zach Duke and Paul Maholm have over 100 career starts each, but the other three, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton and Kevin Hart have less than 100 combined. If the average MLB pitcher hits his peak at age 29, these guys should be about to round into top form.
While I don’t recommend many Pirates for your fantasy team, there are some diamonds to be found in this coal mine if you are looking for keepers. McCutchen and Clement seem to be the real deal and Jones is probably just a late bloomer. Milledge seems to have straightened out his attitude problems and Doumit just needs to stay healthy. Of the pitchers, Maholm and Ohlendorf look to be the best of the bunch.
There once was a fan from Pittsburgh.
Whose team was colder than an iceberg.
And if Global Warming were true,
Then this team would be due.
But it isn’t so on free agents they should splurge.