A Winning Hiatus in Pittsburgh
- Updated: March 22, 2011
People know Pittsburgh as one of the “City of Champions”. While the Steelers and Penguins have had recent success, the Pirates have been cellar dwellers and have has loosing seasons for 18 consecutive years. This is definitely not the team they were in the 1970s. Like the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies, the Pirates are building a farm system that can help them regain glory in a few years.
Last year I traveled and got to see Pedro Alvarez crush long balls and Jose Tabata looks to have some good speed. Then there is Garrett Jones who had burst onto the scene a few years back, and crowd favorite Andrew McCutchen. Evan Meek has become a top reliever and was an all-star last year. Their former ace Zach Duke is now in Arizona and the Pirates have made some moves this off season. Pitching is still a problem currently, but there is light at the end of the tunnel in the farm system.
With the second pick of the 2010 draft the Pirates selected Jameson Taillon. This is the ace they have been missing for a number of years. He can throw upper 90s and has spectacular movement. He has been compared to Roger Clemens and Josh Beckett. Their second pick was Stetson Allie. Stetson can prove himself as a starter, but has been known to lose control which could move him to the bullpen. 2009’s #4 overall pick Tony Sanchez will need to prove himself as hitter as he moves up the farm system. He has a great average thus far, but has only played in high class A.
Under Neal Huntington’s tenure they have really made some good draft picks and as the picks progress and spending increases (Taillon received the second most for a signing bonus in draft history) they can be a competitor again. However, that pitching staff needs an upgrade fast, but it is doubtful they call up Rudy Owens quickly. Owens was the AA Eastern League pitcher of the year, 12-6 with a 2.46 ERA. Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, Kevin Correia, James McDonald, and Scott Olsen/Charlie Morton are the starters for the 2011 Pirates. There is definite work to be done with the starting rotation, but Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek can shut the door to close the game.
There is also talk of calling up Alex Presley who is a CF that batted .312 and had 85 RBIs. They already have four starting OF: Tabata, McCutchen, Jones, and Diaz. Potential trade chip(s)? The lineup looks pretty good through the top 6 spots, which hopefully can create enough runs for wins.
In just over two weeks the season will start, and this should make for an exciting year after some of the signings this past winter: Cliff Lee to Philly and A-Gonz/Crawford to Boston (among other signings). I look forward to seeing a great season, and cannot wait for some summer league action as well!
LET’S GO BUCS!