February 18, 2009

An Optimistic View Of The 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates

The following is my attempt to be blindly optimistic on the Pittsburgh Pirates 2009 season.  To see what I really think will happen, stay tuned or check my 2009 pre-preview

The following is the likely Pittsburgh Pirates 2009 25 man roster to start the season against the Cardinals.

Lineup:

LF Nyjer Morgan
2B Freddy Sanchez
CF Nate McLouth
C Ryan Doumit
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Brandon Moss*
3B Andy LaRoche*
SS Jack Wilson

Bench:

C  Jason Jaramillo
IF Ramon Vazquez
MIF Luis Cruz or Brian Bixler
CIF/COF Eric Hinske
OF Jeff Salazar

Starters:

SP Paul Maholm
SP Ian Snell
SP Tom Gorzelanny
SP Zach Duke
SP Jeff Karstens
SP Ross Ohlendorf

Bullpen:

RP Craig Hansen*
RP Sean Burnett*
RP Donnie Veal**
SU Tyler Yates*
SU John Grabow
CL Matt Capps

Start Season On DL:

Phil Dumatrait*

* - Out of options in 2009.
** - Rule 5 selection.

The following players will likely see some time with Pittsburgh this season due to injury or any other personnel happenings.

On The Horizon:

OF Craig Monroe
OF Andrew McCutchen
OF Jose Tabata
IF Steve Pearce
IF Luis Cruz or Brian Bixler
SP Daniel McCutchen
RP Craig Hansen
RP Evan Meek
RP Romulo Sanchez
RP Denny Bautista
RP Chris Bootcheck
RP Jason Davis

 

Pitching:
You may notice I have 6 starting pitchers listed.  Either Duke or Ohlendorf could start the season in the bullpen or in AAA Indianapolis.  The Pirates will rotate many arms in and out of the bullpen to try and keep it fresh, unfortunately the only arms that can be sent to Indy are starters.  Burnett will likely fill the long reliever position through most of the year.  Whoever lands in the long relief spot out of camp will be the one who likely ends up in AAA when Dumatrait comes off the DL.  Whoever pitches as the number 5 starter to start the year will drop into long relief and will be the next pitcher sent to AAA when the bullpen needs an arm.  At that time Burnett will land in the long relief position.

BTW Optimistic Take:
The starting rotation will thrive under the tutelage of Kerrigan.  Each pitcher will rebound to near their career peak numbers or close to those numbers.  Snell and Gorzelanny will both rebound to pre-2008 numbers.

The bullpen is loaded with power arms to set up Capps.  Capps will continue to prove he is among the leagues best closers and will have many more opportunities to close out games in 2009.

Overall, the team ERA will improve by over 1 run a game by detailed pre-start preparation, challenging hitters and pitching inside.

 

Position:
The season will revolve around the middle of this young lineup.  A core of Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche and Ryan Doumit will anchor the lineup from the 3,4 and 5 positions.  Late season additions Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche will also be key factors in the performance of the team.  A healthy Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson will bookend the middle part of the lineup with speedy Nyger Morgan starting the season as the leadoff hitter.

There will be some depth and versatility on the bench led by powerful veteran Eric Hinske with additional options on the horizon in the minors.

The arrival of top prospect Andrew McCutchen is planned for sometime this season.

BTW Optimistic Take:
Adam LaRoche will be playing for a contract, if there was ever a season the elder LaRoche hits in April and May, 2009 is it.  A full season of the left handed slugger will go a long way to making this team better than last season offensively.

 
Brandon Moss has all the tools necessary to put up power numbers similar to Jason Bay. 


Andy LaRoche is highly touted, and this is the season he should break out and show why he has been a top prospect for many years. 


With new contracts in hand, both Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit will show their contracts were not in vane. 


A healthy Freddy Sanchez should return to his batting champion status, setting the table for the middle of a potentially prominent middle of the order.

 
Nyger Morgan will start the season strong, as he ended 2008, using his good grasp of the strike zone to add to his repertoire of getting on base.  Morgan will likely be replaced by top prospect Andrew McCutchen before the trade deadline.  Morgan should be able to raise his trade value to the point the Pirates may be able to move him for solid prospects, as teams are always on the lookout for leadoff hitters.

 
As the season progresses with the multi-tooled McCutchen in place, the Pirates offense will further blossom.

 

Conclusion:
The Pirates have built a deeper organization through the draft and with the trades of 2008.  There is finally some depth in what was perceived as a barren farm system.  The young players are starting to take their places on the team, 2009 should be a preview of what the future holds for Pirates fans.

BTW Optimistic Conclusion:
The Pirates have most of the tools in place to become the surprise team of 2009.  Recent seasons in baseball have shown the ability for teams thought to be hapless to come out of nowhere and contend for world championships.  This season it is the Pirates turn.

 

My God!  That was the hardest thing I have ever done.  Maybe I should go into writing fiction for a living.  Nah, this post wasn't that believable was it?

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I will be walking in the MDA Stride and Ride locally. Please sponsor me in my Stride and Ride Walk for MDA at https://www.joinmda.org/srcoralvilleia09/dharr18. Every dollar is appreciated.

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