Monday 12 March 2012
2012 Previews: Pittsburgh Pirates
Another Justin Upton!
This is one of those teams who have been so bad for so long that they've finally built up a farm system and a young core, whether or not that was the plan. Neil Huntington has done a nice job so far, and has been rewarded by the club with a 3 year extension this past September. I know he's done a good job because he signed Andrew Mccutchen to a contract extension instead of trading him or letting him expire in to free agency.
This team isn't going to be overly good this year, despite all the modest additions. They got AJ Burnett for cheap (probably a slight overpay, but meh), and they added Clint Barmes, Erik Bedard, and Kevin Correia to relatively cheap deals that could turn out to be nice prospect finders for the team.
This past year, they were actually 7 games over .500 just after the all-star break, and were actually tied for the division lead 100 games in to the season. Whatever the fuck happened after that, I can't really say, but it didn't go well down the stretch. They could probably compete if they were to add a good starter (or get contributions from their farm studs like Taillon), and get the performances we've been waiting for from guys like Tabata and Alvarez, but ultimately, I don't think they're good enough to compete with the better teams in this division.
They've graduated a few guys to the majors in the last few years, but being so terrible has allowed them to draft some pretty special guys. They have pitching out the ass, with Jameson Taillion, and Gerritt Cole, and Stetson Allie (though Allie had a bad year last year, and might be a reliever going forward). They don't have a ton of depth behind those pitchers and OF Josh Bell, but that's mostly because of their young MLB club. There are still some nice prospects in this system, even if there aren't many fillers behind them.
It's coming. I liken them to Cleveland in terms of their chances to compete. They'll lose a doormat in 2013, as Houston moves to the AL, so their schedule should toughen a bit, but the big league roster should improve and be ready to contend by then anyway. They're probably going to peak at the right time (two or three years from now), with both Cincinnati and Milwaukee peaking around now.
Projection: 75-87, 4th in the AL Central