Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Series #9: The Bucs!

So recently, the Brewers outscored the Pirates 36-1 in a three game series. The Cubs recently outscored the Brewers 25-4 in a three game series.

By my math, the Cubs should sweep this series against the Pirates and outscore them 93-0.

As you would expect with any AAA team, the Pirates have had a lot of turn over on their roster as a number of their players have been promoted to big league clubs over the last year.

In fact, by my count, only 6 players from the 2009 opening day roster are actually on the team right now.  Those players?

  • Catcher Ryan Doumit
  • 3rd baseman Andy LaRoche
  • Backup catcher Jason Jaramillo
  • Starting pitcher Paul Maholm
  • Starting pitcher Zack Duke
  • Relief pitcher Jeff Karstens
Yep.  That's it.  Well, at least the Pirates have some stability behind the plate.

This is year 18 of the Pirates rebuilding processes.  They are taking the slow route here, I guess.  Yes, that is 17 straight losing seasons.  Not even the Cubs have a streak in their history that is that bad...in fact no major sports franchise in this country can boast that!

The truth is, Pittsburgh is a good sports town, and if they could somehow put a good team together sometime in the next 20 years, the fans will pack that ballpark.

 Best ballpark in baseball.

And what a ballpark.  I have probably mentioned it a couple times, but I think PNC Park is the most beautiful and all-around best ballpark in all of baseball.  Of course I really don't know, I'm just basing this off of pictures and video, but it is at the top of my list of stadiums that I want to visit.  I haven't been their yet, so I could be wrong.

Ok, so what do the Bucs have to offer this season?

Andrew McCutchen seems to be one of their best players...he started the season as their #2 hitter...and now is firmly in the #3 spot in the order.  He is getting on base and already has 10 stolen bases this season.  But he hasn't driven in many runs...probably due to the fact the players in front of him aren't getting on base.

 The Pirates need to clone this guy if they want to get good.

Ryan Doumit might be the other potential all-star on this team right now...he's a fairly good hitting catcher, but he is just average defensively.

The other LaRoche (the good one is playing for the D-Back now) will primary play at third.  He's ok.  The rest of the infield is quite scraptastic: Cedeno, Crosby, Clement, and Iwamura.

The outfield, along with McCutchen, includes Ryan Church, Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones.  *yawn*

On to the pitching staff, which is almost as exciting as the position players.

The Pirates have 3 legitimate starting pitchers, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Russ Ohlendorf.  Ohlendorf is currently on the DL with back problems.  Duke and Maholm should be solid starters this year.

The rest of the rotating is really bad.  Charlie Morton has just been lit up this season and has an 0-5 record.  A handful of other pitchers have made starts here and there.  All have had problems.

The bullpen is, like the D-Backs, pretty bad as well.  The back of the pen includes setup man Brandon Donnelley and closer Octavio Dotel.  Both have had problems this year so far.  For Dotel, he actually has been fairly good in the few save sitations the Pirates have had.  But his other appearances (include a couple of blowout loses to the Brewers), he has really been rocked.

Evan Meek and Javier Lopez have pitched well out of the 'pen for them...but that is about it. 

 Soriano's fielding coach.


The Matchups:

Tonight:  Ryan Dempster vs. Paul Maholm...
The Cubs have handled Maholm quite well over his career...but he amazingly has a 5-1 record against the Cubs.  Maholm is a lefty, so expect some quirkiness in the lineup tonight...possibly Jeff Baker and Xavier Nady.  Dempster went 8 innings in his last start, which was a loss to Washington.

Tomorrow: Ted Lilly vs. Charlie Morton
Morton has been flat out bad this year with an 0-5 record and an ERA over 12.00.  I'm a bit scared because this kid is due for a good performance.  He has faced the Cubs 3 times in his career, and the Cubs hit him well in the first 2 games.  But...in his last start against the Cubs, in September of last year, he pitched a complete game shutout.  Lilly got hit rather hard in his last start.  Everything was set up for it to be a difficult day for him.  It was obvious his arm strength isn't quite there yet and with the wind howling out to left with a right handed heavy lineup, Lilly got absolutely torched.  Look for him to rebound have a good start against a rather questionable Pirate lineup.

Thursday:  Randy Wells vs. some generic Brian
Yes, the Pirates haven't announced who will start on Thursday yet.  MLB.com says it will likely either be Brian Burres or Brian Bass.  This is supposedly Russ Ohlendorf's spot in the rotation...who is out with back problems.  Wells struggled a bit with the wind blowing out at Wrigley last week...but against the Arizona lineup, it was a tough task to keep the ball inside the fences.  It was the only loss the Cubs had to the D-Backs in that 4 game series.