Ok, we know it's been a while since we posted - the Pens loss proved to be a hard hit for Diego and I, and we've been trying to keep our thoughts clear of those jagoffs and their f-ing octopi...
So with that being said, we figured we'd bring you a little summary of where the Pirates are at, who they drafted in the first couple rounds this season (players that will make a difference I might add) and where we go from here. So sit back, crack open an Iron and raise the Jolly Roger, it's PNA's State of the Buccos Address...
So at the beginning of the season, if I told you the Pirates would be 30-33 at this point in the season, you'd be pretty happy, wouldn't you? The only problem is the 30-33 we find ourselves at A) has us at or near the bottom of the NL Central and B) could very easily be 36-27 or some like number.
Our pitching staff, namely our starting pitchers, which were supposed to be a strength, have been a disappointment. Matt Morris and his $10 million contract are gone after a horrendous start, and youngsters Ian Snell and Tom Gorzo aren't showing the promise they did a year ago. It looks like Gorzo might be injured, and Snell has lost his confidence. Not too good for your number 1 and 2 pitchers.
Luckily, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Phil Dumatrait have picked up the slack recently, and have been our rocks in the rotation (recently - they all stunk at the beginning of the year). If Snell and Gorzo get healthy and sane, this could be a ddangerous bunch in the future.
The Ambiguously Gay Duo of Zach Duke and John Grabow
The bullpen has been holding there own, especially the backend. Fat Matt Capps is perfect in save opportunities, and John Grabow, Damaso Marte and Tyler Yates all sport sub-4.00 ERA's, and have combined for ten wins and fourteen saves. Our long relievers leave a little to be desired, but they're young and don't get to pitch nearly as often as the regular relievers, so it's kind of inappropriate to say they can't pitch; we'll just say long relief doesn't seem to be their strongest point.
Now onto the hitters...
The biggest disappointment of the year has got to be Ronnie Paulino. Slated as the starter when camp began, he's done so poorly and shown such a lack of hustle and heart that he's been demoted to AAA Indianapolis. Luckily, when healthy, Ryan Doumit has played well beyond expectations, as has other backstop Raul Chavez.
Our outfield has been tearing the cover off the ball, with Nate McLouth leading the way with a .303 average and 14 homeruns, to go along with Jason Bay's .289 and 14 and Xavier Nady's .320 and 9. They've also combined to knock in 124 runs so far this season.
Finally, our infield has been OK at best. Jose Bautista has been his usual crappy self, Jack Wilson's been hurt, and LaRoche is doing his usual .221 in June. Fast Freddy Sanchez has been playing OK, but is only hitting .240 and needs to take more walks at the top of the order.
So where do we go from here?
Well first off, our draft this year was great, with us getting the equivalent of two top-10 picks in 3B Pedro Alvarez and hard throwing (though injured) starter Tanner Scheppers. Both of these players were college phenoms, with Avarez being ranked as the best college players in many national surveys, and Scheppers being ranked as high as 10th and the 3rd best pitcher.
We may have trouble signing both of these players, as Scheppers is much more talented then his second round selection would indicate, and Alvarez is being "advised" by super agent Scott Boras. I'm glad we took them though - it seems to say we're not scared to draft the best player because of monetary concerns any longer.
So where does that leave us?
Well for the year, unfortunately, I think we're SOL. The Cubs are playing well ,and even though we may break through that .500 barrier this season (if we go through our usual post All-Star game run), I just don't think we have enough to make it to the post season.
But with the older (and almost unrestricted) talents like Nady, Bay, Wilson and LaRoche, it may be time for them to hit the dusty road and head on to greener pastures. What really matters is what we get in return for them. Next year will probably be another rebuilding season, but 2010 seems to be the year we may be poised to make a run.
Take a look at this lineup, mostly compiled by rotoworld and rearranged by Big Snack - CF Andrew McCutcheon
2B Freddy Sanchez
LF Nate McLouth
3B Pedro Alvarez
1B Steve Pearce
C Ryan Doumit
RF Neil Walker (if they change his position again)
SS Brian Bixler (if we don't upgrade in a trade)
It seems to me that the Buccos are finally on the upswing, and actually look like a real baseball team.
So the State of the Buccos is strong, and only going to get stronger.