Monday, February 20, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Preview

With the Pittsburgh Pirates opening camp in Bradenton, Florida it's the most exciting time of the year for a Pirates fan. It's the time of the year they are tied for first in the league at 0-0. There is still hope of breaking the 19 year slump of being under .500. Even hope that maybe, just maybe they can sneak into playoffs.

The Pirates were leading the Central division last July until coming back to earth and finishing at 72-90. They were ranked 27th in runs scored (610), 26th in hits (1325), 27th in home runs (107), 23rd in average (.244), 17th in ERA (4.04), 12th in saves (42), 13th in earned runs (650), 28th in strike outs (1031), and 28th in batting average against (.270).

The pitching had been better that it has in the past but lack of offense gives you no chance to have success. The Pirates have a lot of young talent that they hope can start producing and some they need to keep producing to get them into the playoffs.

Their lack of strikeouts last year was something clearly the Pirates wanted to improve on this year. They went out and signed AJ Burnett and Erik Bedard who both have had 200+ strikeout seasons in the past. If both of these players can stay healthy and be consistent then the Pirates have a chance to add not only more strikeouts but add more win's. Win's the Pirates could desperately use to help break the streak.

Another big key to this years season is Pedro Alvarez. He needs to develop into the big bat the Pirates need. If he can be that big bat in the middle of the lineup it will help produce more runs and open better at bats for everyone around him.

Along with the young talent in Pittsburgh they also signed a couple of veterans. The signed catcher Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes, and ex-Pirate all-star Nate McLouth. Barmes can hopefully provide the Pirates with a short stop that can produce, something they haven't had in years. If Barajas can accept their potential role of role players and provide a spark in being the veterans they could help provide a couple key wins.

With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder leaving the NL Central it helps the Pirates not only have a positive mental factor going into the year knowing to not have to face those great players, but the fact they don't have to face them at all gives them a boost. Pujols has always been a Pirate killer almost beating them single handedly.

Here is who I think will be the starters for opening day at home vs the Philadelphia Phillies.

1) Jose Tabata OF
2) Alex Presley OF
3) Andrew McCutchen OF
4) Neil Walker 2b
5) Garrett Jones 1b
6) Pedro Alvarez 3b
7) Clint Barmes SS
8) Rob Barajas C
9) A.J. Burnett P

I am predicting Pirates lose opening day 5-1.

I think the starting rotation will be as follows.

AJ Burnett
Erik Bedard
James McDonald
Charlie Morton
Jeff Karstens

The Pirates will most likely finish under .500 and add to their embarrassing record of 20 straight losing seasons, but I just like any other Pirate fan still have hope. They have the pieces to compete in the Central it's now time to do it.

My prediction is the Pirates will end up 75-87.

Go Pirates.

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