Body’s Baseball Preview: The Pittsburgh Pirates

The fine folks here at Heading For The Exits were gracious enough to host my team-by-team baseball previews. Look for a new one every day from March 1st through March 30th. We’re coming down the home stretch now, stopping in the NL Central. And now, we look in on the MLB equivalent of Ted Buckland.

Yeah, that's my Pirates-watching face too.
Yeah, that’s my Pirates-watching face too.

The Pirates are awful. I don’t think I’m telling any tales out of school here. What with my shamelss east coast bias, I can’t help but experience their futility on a regular basis. Really, it’s the laugh track to my MLB season. The only elite player on the roster this year is Andrew McCutchen, and considering the season he had last year, the man has got to be blue-balled something awful. Having Neil Walker bat clean-up behind him is like putting Ashton Kutcher in a Star Wars film.

What’s on tap for this year? Well, the outfield isn’t getting any better. McCutchen is stranded out there with a shell-shocked rookie and and a 6 foot tall stack of hot steaming garbage. The first baseman is a platoon player, the shortstop is a replacement player, and the third baseman is a perpetual disappointment. Let me put it this way… I’m watching Dante’s Peak while writing this, and 90s Pierce Brosnan is infinitely more compelling than this line-up.

How’d The Offseason Go?

The Pirates got themselves a bumper crop of mediocre players this offseason, and not a moment too soon. They’re the next stop on the whirlwind comedy tour that is Francisco Liriano’s career. He faces his greatest challenge yet in raising and then dashing the hopes of a fanbase with no hopes left. Jonathan Sanchez stops by as well to continue letting his career circle the drain. See also: Brandon Inge. Jose Contreras is the lone pickup that might actually pan out and bolster the bullpen.

The big trade that went down? Joel Hanrahan goes to the Red Sox with prospect Brock Holt for a bunch of bullshit and noted underachiever Mark Melancon (rhymes with Hanson). Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Notable departures? Kevin Correia has taken the bait for the Minnesota Twins and will make sure to disappoint everybody there in a real hurry. Rod Barajas decided working on his tan in Arizona would be better use of his time than choking on the fumes of Pittsburgh. Jason Grilli signed back on to close, which is actually the best option they have right now. Stopped clock, etc.

The Pirates Will Make The Playoffs If

The Pirates Will Miss the Playoffs If

Ah, screw it.

How The Season Will Go

parkour

How’s The Farm?

They’ve got a couple of really, really good pitching prospects who are ready to move up. Considering the 4th and 5th pitchers are the Jeffs Karstens and Locke, they should get ample opportunity to prove their worth. Gerrit Cole has an absolutely disgusting fastball, a high 90s offering that demonstrates impressive movement. He rounds out his arsenal with a plus slider and a decent changeup and curve. Kyle McPherson, though not really a star by birthright, still has three good pitches, fastball, curveball, and changeup, and impressive command.

Several other pitching prospects are ready for the majors, but their path leads through the bullpen. Justin Wilson and Andrew Oliver are both primarily fastball-slider pitchers who have had some success starting in the minors but will likely convert to the bullpen to make the best use of their velocity. Bryan Morris has been in the pen for awhile, and he’ll likely be useful right away in the Majors. They’ve got a closer of the future in Victor Black, a hard thrower with a decent slider who struck out over a batter an inning last year. Once he nails down his command, he should slide into late inning duties fairly quickly.

There’s nothing really to report on offense here… the Pirates are just going to have to make do with what they have the next couple of years.

Your Brief Fantasy Preview

There is very, very little to get excited about here. Andrew McCutchen is a top 5 outfielder, granted. Unless you’re playing in a very, very deep league, it’s hard to see you drafting any other players as starters. If you must, though, there are some things to consider. Pedro Alvarez will ding you on your average, but he’s got decent power offerings. Think about 30 home runs and 80 RBIs. Garrett Jones is useful against right-handed pitchers — very useful. If you miss out on a top 10 first baseman, you can platoon him with another backup. Just make sure you sit him against lefties. Russell Martin has actually been getting worse year after year… there is no reason to draft him except in 2 catcher leagues. Neil Walker won’t hurt your average at second base, but his counting stats are lacking. He’s a cleanup hitter who hit 14 home runs and 69 RBIs last year. What a shitbag.

AJ Burnett could actually be a useful pitcher if you’re hurting for a starter. He won’t likely pitch a ton of innings this year, but getting out of the AL East has been good for him. Think about a 3.70 ERA and a little under a strikeout per inning. Wandy Rodriguez had a bit of a set-back last year, but he’s been tearing it up this spring and could be a useful 3rd or 4th pitcher. James McDonald was impressive last year with an ERA well under 3 through 15 starts in April to June, then had a spectacular collapse to finish with an ERA of 4.21 on 171 innings pitched. Coincidentally, in 2011 he finished with an ERA of 4.21 on 171 innings pitched, and he only pitched well May through July. Isn’t that interesting? Because I don’t know what the hell to tell you about drafting him. Lastly, Jason Grilli is the closer here. He should be… just okay.

Projected Finish in the NL Central?

5th. This is going to be brutal.

Oddly Apropos Futurama Quote

“I know Big Vinny said he was giving me the Kiss of Death, but I still think he’s gay.”

Body By Bacardi has been making bad sports jokes on Twitter since 2010 and on Deadspin since 2011. If you’re not tired of reading things he’s written, you can follow him on Twitter at @wineaccguy.

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