Results tagged ‘ Pittsburgh Pirates ’
Well the lineups are in and we almost ready to go in game 2 of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2009 campaign. Here’s the lineups:
- Nyjer Morgan, LF
- Freddy Sanchez, 2B
- Nate McLouth, CF
- Ryan Doumit, C
- Adam LaRoche, 1B
- Eric Hinske, RF
- Andy LaRoche, 3B
- Jack Wilson, SS
- Ian Snell, P
- Looks like John Russell gives Eric Hinske the nod after his clutch hit last night in the ninth. We should see a lot of this in 2009 with Hinske as well as Craig Monroe and Ramon Vasquez. I’d love to Vasquez get some playing time at short and third.
- Skip Schumaker, 2B
- Colby Rasmus, RF
- Albert Pujols, 1B
- Chris Duncan, LF
- Khalil Greene, SS
- Rick Ankiel, CF
- Yadier Molina, C
- Joe Thurston, 3B
- Kyle Lohse
- A very interesting Cardinals lineup… a lot of new faces from yesterday. LaRussa takes Ryan Ludwick out in favor of super rookie Colby Rasmus, and is playing Joe Thurston at third instead of Brian Barden.
Alright let’s go to my second divisional preview for the ever so fastly approaching 2009 season. Here is the N.L. East Preview just in case you missed it.
- The Chicago Cubs were far and away the best hitting team in this division last year. They averaged 5.3 runs per game, that’s a half a run more than the Cardinals, who finished second in this category last year. Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano will put up more great numbers this year. The only thing is that there are a lot of injury risks in that lineup, but they are deep enough to compensate.
- The Cardinals averaged 4.8 runs per game last year, near the top of the ranks in the National League. There’s really only one thing you need to know about this offensive unit, and that’s Albert Pujols. Aside from him, they weren’t looking that great until Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel had great seasons at the plate, and now their offense looks great. Troy Glaus is going to struggle with injuries this year, but that’s not enough to shake me from naming them second in hitting in the 2009 NL Central.
- The Brew Crew had 90 wins last year, party because of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, but the offense did enough to compete with the rest of the league last year. They have a lot of young guys that are now in or entering their prime, which makes me believe that this offense could have its best season in recent memory. Prince Fielder is one of the best home run hitters in the league, Ryan Braun is just one of the best hitters in the league, and they have great role players in Rickie Weeks, JJ Hardy, and Bill Hall.
- There is a big drop off here between the Brewers and the Astros. 3 of Houston’s best hitters (Lee, Berkman, Tejada) are all over 32. Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence are exciting players. Bourn can run faster than most Kenyan Olympians, and Pence just does everything well. However, I see way to much risk to say this offense is going to put up good numbers this year.
- Well the Reds gets the nod over my Pirates at the cellar of the division here. Look, the Reds are a pretty good looking team. They have a lot of young guys with big upside. Joey Votto could really break out this year, and he is the Reds best offensive threat. The Reds will definitely continue to feel the effects of losing Adam Dunn last year. Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce are there to provide good bats with a good amount of power, but this lineup is lacking in a lot of aspects still.
- It kills me to do this, really, it does. However, the Pirates have the worst looking lineup in the last 5+ years, I’m not going to lie. McLouth and Doumit are great hitters, but there really is nothing behind them to get excited about. Andy LaRoche is having a nice spring and could put up good numbers this year, but he’s unproven. There are guys with good upside, like Brandon Moss and then some minor leaguers that the we could see up this year, but it’s pretty obvious we are still the worst offense in the division. Maybe next year.
- The Cubs led this division in most pitching categories last year as well, making them a very solid team. Their rotation is definitely going to take a step backwards this year, but not enough to knock them off of the top ranks. Carlos Zambrano is slowing down, Rich Harden is always injured, and you want me to believe Ryan Dempster is going to repeat last year’s numbers? I’m not buying it. However, these 3 all have the chance to be elite pitchers, and any time a team has that chance, I’ll take them. They take the top spot by a slight margin.
- I really struggled with this one, I just about took them to be first. Volquez, Harang, Cueto, Arroyo, Owings, and Bailey all have huge upside. Harang and Arroyo are proven veterans, and the other 4 are young guns with great arms. This has the chance to easily become the best staff in the Central, and even challenge to be one of the best in the majors. However, until I see Volquez and Cueto repeat their successes, I can’t put them on top quite yet.
- Well the 1-2 race was close, and so is this 3-4-5. I’m giving the Astros a slight advantage here. They have a proven ace in Roy Oswalt, who I think will have a great season. Wandy Rodriguez is set to have the best season of his career, and then there’s Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler, and Russ Ortiz. The back end is kind of weak, but definitely not terrible. Enough to earn the 3 spot.
- This Cardinals vs. Astros vs. Brewers is so tough. The reason I’m taking the Cardinals here is the resurgence of Chris Carpenter. He has looked great in spring and is really healthy. I think he could return to his former state as a dominant ace. Even if he doesn’t, they have a solid ace in Adam Wainwright, and a decent back end with Pineiro, Lohse and Wellemeyer.
- A young staff with a lot of upside. Yovani Gallardo looks like an ace. Dave Bush could be a very good pitcher. The back end doesn’t look too hot with Jeff Suppan, Braden Looper, and Manny Parra, so that’s the real reason I had them 5th here. The rotation is solid enough to team with that great offense and ead them to another good season, and probably another 2nd place finish.
- Another tragedy. The Pirates rotation is worse than their offense. This was a no brainer. The Pirates would be bottom 3 if I did this for the entire National League. Paul Maholm is the only thing that is sure in this rotation. He’s a stud. After that, there is a bunch of crap, with a little bit of upside. I’ve pretty much given up on Zach Duke, and Ian Snell is heading down that road as well. The upside comes with Ohlendorf and Karstens. Ohlendorf has been spectacular in spring, and Karstens was awesome last year with the Pirates. However, they have also both shown very bad stretches, and with the Pirates history, I’m not taking the upside to the bank quite yet. I wish I could say there is help coming from the minor leagues, but there really is not.
So here’s my final standings for the 2009 National League East:
Chicago Cubs…………………..90 – 72
Milwaukee Brewers………….. 89 – 73
Cincinnati Reds…………………80 – 82
St. Louis Cardinals…………….79 – 83
Houston Astros…………………77 – 85
Pittsburgh Pirates……………….71 – 92
Alright we are now only 11 days away from opening night, when the Philadelphia Phillies begin their quest to defend their championship against the Atlanta Braves. As we approach the final week of spring training, the every day big league hitters are really starting to gear up and really start swinging the bats. I’m looking forward to looking around the league to see what happens in this last week of spring training, but I am even more looking forward to the end of spring training. It’s been going on forever, let’s get to the regular season already! Anyways, let’s get to some Pirates news.
The Pirates defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-2 last night. The big story here was Ross Ohlendorf. Ross pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up 5 hits and striking out 3. His spring ERA is now down to 0.59, making him a lock for a spot in the starting rotation (at least he’s a lock in my book). He has looked terrific, being efficient and location all of his pitches extremely well. I’d love to see him in the 4th spot in the rotation, preceded by Maholm, Snell, and Duke, and followed by Karstens. The Pirates offense was provided by Craig Monroe, Nate McLouth, and Ryan Doumit. Let’s take a closer look at these three hitters, shall we??
- Craig Monroe
Craig Monroe has been stellar for his new team this spring. He’s hitting .302 with 12 RBI and 6 runs. Monroe is a lifetime .253 hitter, which is obviously not too good. He has had three 20+ home run seasons, but that’s in his past. Monroe is going to be nothing more than a pinch hitter and a situational player. I don’t know who will have the advantage between Monroe and Hinske. They will be two great players coming off the bench. Personally, I like Eric Hinske better, just because of his defense. Hinske, by the way, is a career .254 hitter. He had 24 homers in his first season, and hit 20 again last season. His defense is definitely superior to that of Monroe, but the way Monroe has looked this spring, I don’t see how you could look him over that quickly. It’s a good problem to have. If the Pirates do indeed record their 17th consecutive losing season, it won’t be the fault of the outfield.
- Nate McLouth
Nate McLouth, pretty much the single reason to watch the Pirates last year, had success out of nowhere. No one expected him to do that. The only reason he even became an every day player was because of his awesome performance in spring training last year. He is mimicking that success again this spring. He’s hitting .325 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI. The average is good to see. McLouth hit .276 last year. Don’t expect a .300 season from McLouth. I’m a little weary of his power numbers as well, I don’t see him hitting 26 homers again this year. If he stays healthy all year, he’ll probably eclipse 20. I would also say he’s not going to repeat his RBI number again (94). Hitting in the 3 hole, it’s a guaranteed minimum 75, with potential to get to 100. I’m thinking somewhere in the mid to high 80′s. With hitters Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez hitting in front of him, I’m not seeing many runners to be on base for Nate (at least until Andrew McCutchen starts leading off for the Pirates). Nate could very well make his 2nd consecutive all-star appearance, just because the rest of the club is so mediocre.
- Ryan Doumit
Ryan Doumit is one of the pillars that is holding the future together for the Pirates. He’s been showing good signs this spring as well. He is hitting .295 with 2 home runs and a .477 slugging percentage. Doumit is a rare catcher. He hit .318 last year, and it’s pretty rare to see a catcher hit that far above .300. His career average is .278. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Doumit’s average take a step backwards this year, but I definitely can see his power numbers rising. He hit a career high 15 homers last year. I expect Ryan to raise that number into the 20′s this year. This guy has great potential, and hitting in the clean up spot could warrant a legitimate chance to get to 100 RBI. Although his 69 ribs last year suggest otherwise. Maybe I’m expecting too much out of him, but I see Doumit as our best offensive player, so he’d better perform.
The Pirates play another night game tonight against the Rays at 7. Jeff Karstens will take the mound to try and boost his chances at making the rotation. We should be hearing word from manager John Russell soon about who the rotation will be. This is definitely a big start for Karstens. He hasn’t been great this spring, but has shown good signs and had some ups, enough to put him ahead of Virgil Vasquez, atleast. Personally, I’m rooting for Karstens. Let’s Go Bucs.
Well the Pirates played their 2nd spring training game today against the Red Sox, and they frankly did not perform very well through the first 8 innings of the game. Ian Snell started and gave up 2 runs in the first inning (both unearned). The Pirates only collected 5 hits all game long, but they had 2 hits that really counted. The pitching staff did a great job holding the Red Sox, as they shut them out after the first inning. Ohlendorf, Barthmaier, Denny Bautista, Burnett, Yates, and Haigwood combined to pitch 8 scoreless. In the 9th inning, the Pirates scored 3 runs to win the game 3-2. Pedro Alvarez had his first hit as a Pirate that drove in a run en route to the 9th inning comeback win. I’m not exactly sure how it happened in the 9th, because all I can see is a box score and the game wasn’t on the radio, but I’m sure it was an exciting scene (as exciting as a Pirates spring training game can be). So the Pirates have knocked off the last 2 year’s world series winners in a row now, not a bad start to the 2009 campaign. The win is nice and all, and it was good to see some solid outings some of our key bullpen pitchers, but the offense really didn’t do anything until that 9th inning, which isn’t what you want to see. Nyjer Morgan was 0-3, McCutchen went 0-2 with 2 strikeouts, Hinske was 0-2, and Steve Pearce was 0-2 after having a nice game yesterday. It’s great to see Pedro Alvarez get his first hit in that fashion though.