30 Teams in 30 Days: Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates
62-99, 6th Place NL Central

2009 Review:
The 2009 Pirates were pretty much like the teams the previous 15 years – bad. The team continued to sell off veteran players to re-fill the system with prospects. They traded Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, and John Grabow.

As a result, they received a lot of good young players: Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton, Joel Hanrahan, Lastings Milledge, Tim Alderson, Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Clement to name a few of the bigger ones.

Morton was a decent starter after the trade and will be a fixture for rebuilding. He’s not an ace, but a good mid-rotation pitcher. Alderson ranges from potential Ace to back of the rotation starter. Milledge did better than a lot of people expected. Hanrahan was instantly in the bullpen.

The trades of McLouth and Morgan opened centerfield for Andrew McCutchen, who had an excellent rookie season. Trading LaRoche gave Garrett Jones the ability to take over first base and finally live up to his potential.

Off Season
The Pirates had a lot of work to do, but didn’t lose many players.

After attempting to work out a contract and declaring him the closer for 2010, the Pirates non-tendered Matt Capps. Capps had been decent as closer and many were surprised he was let go.

Most other loses for the team were minor league players.

Gains: Jesus Brito, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, Brendan Donnelly, Octavio Dotel, Akinori Iwamura, Chris Jakubauskas, Brandon Jones, Javier Lopez

Losses: Denny Bautista, Brian Bixler, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, Luis Cruz, Robinson Diaz, Phil Dumatrait, Jeff Salazar

Minor League Deals: Brian Bass, Doug Bernier, Brian Burres, Luke Carlin, D.J. Carrasco, Vinnie Chulk, Neal Cotts, Wil Ledezma, Jack Taschner, Jonathan Van Every

With closer now a glaring hole, the Pirates went bargain shopping. Octavio Dotel, who hasn’t closed in a few years, should be the closer. They were able to get him cheap because he wanted to close and no one wanted to give him a shot.

They also added infield depth by adding Akinori Iwamura and Bobby Crosby. Iwamura was the odd man out in Tampa and only cost pitching prospect Jesse Chavez. Crosby was brought in cheaply to compete with Ronny Cedeno at shortstop.

Another low cost option to compete with current players was Ryan Church. Church has struggled to stay healthy his entire career, but should help the Pirates when he’s playing.

Finally, the Pirates may find a couple of middle relievers from the minor league players, specifically D.J. Carrasco, Vinnie Chulk, Neal Cotts, Wil Ledezma, and Jack Taschner. Carrasco has had some decent years in the past. Cotts, Ledezma, and Taschner could all be lefty set up men, if they can crack the roster.

2010 Preview:
While the team is definitely improved, they still have a lot of work to do.

Doumit is entrenched as catcher, so Jeff Clement will compete with Garrett Jones and Steven Pearce at first. Iwamura will hold his own at second, but could be traded at the deadline. A rotation of Cedeno and Crosby will hold down short, but I expect Crosby to be traded if he’s playing well. Third will continue to be held by Andy LaRoche, until Pedro Alvarez is deemed ready.

The outfield will continue to be anchored by McCutchen in center. Brandon Moss, Steve Pearce, Garrett Jones, Ryan Church, Brandon Jones, John Raynor, and Lastings Milledge will probably all battle for time in the corners.

The pitching staff will have Paul Maholm and Zach Duke at the front of it, followed by Russ Ohlendorf. The final 2 spots should come down to Charlie Morton, Daniel McCutchen, and Brad Lincoln. The bullpen will have Octavio Dotel at the back end, then use a band of misfits to get to him.

Prediction:
70-92, 6th Place NL Central

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