Monday, November 26, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates Season 21 Outlook

Season 20
Won/Loss (place in division) & Playoffs:  99-63 (2nd and wild card); won World Series
Offense:  817 runs (1st)
Pitching:  3.58 ERA (5th)

Major Changes
FA Departures:  OF Todd Brooks, RP Gus Rivera, RP David Espinosa, SP Denny Sullivan

FA Signees:  SP Alfredo Torrealba, SP Rafael Rijo, RP Jesus Olivares, OF Gerardo Martis

Season 21 Outlook
On offense, the Pirates don't hit a lot of homers (170, 11th), although having Mark Payton (acquired late last season) for the full year will help there.  And they don't run very well (15th in SB's).  But they do get on base really well, with a variety of platooning, switch-hitting, walk-taking, punch-and-judy hitters.  Not sexy, but effective.

Pittsburgh's pitching was pretty good, but faltered in places last year.  The front 3 of Caldwell, McBride and Garrido was excellent again, but the team struggled to find a 4th starter.  When swingman Brett Gordon stepped into that role, it put more pressure on the staggering bullpen (22-21 in 1-run games, vs. the Mets' 29-16, and the Mets won the division by 3 games).  So management went all-in on pitching this off-season, committing $150 million to Alfredo Torrealba, Rafael Rijo and Jesus Olivares.

I think they have a good chance to sneak by the Mets this year, but something tells me the offense won't be as good.  They'll top 100 wins but settle for a wild-card again.

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