“Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first mediocre Pirates team since 1997.”
– Burgher Jon @ The Pittsburgh Men’s Blogging Society
The Pirates come to Minnesota winners of four of their last five, and unbridled optimism is the mood of Pirates fans. They are a mere four games out of first place (although also tied for last in the NL Central), are nearly at .500 (30-33), and BP has their playoff odds at 10%. Maybe ‘cautious’ is the better modifier for optimism. If ever there was a year for optimism in Pittsburgh sports, this is it, with the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run fresh in mind, maybe the Pirates are destined for greatness. Sidney Crosby and the Pens were at the game Sunday (which was also turn back the clock day – love the old-time unis and scoreboard) showing off their new hardware.
The Pirates biggest move this year was the trade of Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves in early June. Immediate reaction from what I can tell on the blogs, was a bit of “here we go again” and some “I see what they’re doing, I’m just not quite convinced“. I’m sure the GM was excited when one of the returns of that trade, Charlie Morton, pitched all of one inning in his Pirates debut before injuring himself (it’s minor – he won’t miss his next start). With all the trades of talent (Bay, Nady, McLouth) for prospects, the Pirates are collecting quite a few prospects. Along those lines, in the recent draft the Pirates had the fourth overall pick, but in a move widely viewed as budget-motivated, they reached and selected catcher Tony Sanchez. Even though I don’t really follow the draft, I feel comfortable saying that this was a reach due to posts “defending” the pick.
While some of those youngsters will be playing in this series, notably Andrew McCutchen (who is fast) and Andy LaRoche, there are also some older, more familiar faces on the Pirates roster, such as Eric “Jason” Hinske, Craig Monroe, and Delwyn Young. Wait, … Delwyn Young? That required further investigation. Turns out he’s getting a look as a replaccement for struggling outfielder Brandon Moss, although the difference betwixt them is debatable at this point. Delwyn is not strong defensively and his offensive value is tied to his average due to limited power. I know what you’re thinking, but I checked; no resemblance – definitely not an evil twin.
Perkins v. P. Maholm
Liriano v. I. Snell
Snell has been the subject of trade rumors, but when you pitch for the Pirates, I guess that comes with the territory.
Blackburn v. Z. Duke
Zach Duke should really spell his first name with a ‘k’. Personally, I have a ‘k’ in both my first and last name, and let me tell you, Mr. Duke, it’s totally worth it.