Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The 2013 Pirates, 20% In

The Pirates have now played 31 games, one game short of the 20% mark of the season.  Time to take my first critical look at the team for the season.


  • The team stands at 17-14, three games out of first place and in a virtual tie for second place in the NL Central.  Given the schedule they faced in the first month of the season, they are much better, record-wise, than I anticipated.
  • Starling Marte: .325, 5 HR, 16 RBI, .918 OPS.  Need I say more?
  • Russell Martin.  After a slow start, he is hitting .272, 6 HR (leads the team), 11 RBI, and .905 OPS.
  • Travis Snider, Gaby Sanchez, and Garrett Jones all hitting well.
  • Andrew McCutchen, despite a horrible slump on the last road trip, still leads the team in RBI with 17.  You know he will perform.
  • The bullpen 8th/9th inning tandem of Mark Meloncon and Jason Grilli has been other worldly.
  • A.J. Burnett, a true ace and leads the league in strike outs.
  • Jeff Locke has shown glimpses of being a good starting pitcher.
  • Pedro Alvarez hitting .178 with 35 K's in 101 AB, and a .563 OPS.  Yes, there are those 5 HR and 13 RBI, but when he does not hit a home run, and they are his only extra base hits thus far, he's pretty much the same hitter as Clint Barmes.  Seeing him absolutely crush a home run, makes the rest of his performance all the more frustrating.
  • Speaking of Clint Barmes: .192, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .497 OPS and 21 K  and only 4 BB in 78 AB.  Positively unacceptable.  And while people rave about his defensive prowess, sorry, but I don't see it.  The seamhead SABRmetrics guys may say differently, but when I watch him, he seems, at best, pretty ordinary to me.
  • James McDonald.  Never know which JMac will show up, and more often that not, it's been the Second Half JMac from 2012 that we've seen so far.
  • Jonathan Sanchez was a complete and absolute disaster as a starting pitcher.  He was glaringly bad (yes he was, Clint).  At least the team ended this experiment before the calendar turned to May.
  • The anticipated help from injured pitchers is not looking good.  Charlie Morton had a setback in his rehab and who knows what's wrong Jeff Karstens.  Francisco Liriano is set to join the rotation this coming weekend.  Need you be reminded that Liriano has been an ordinary-to-bad pitcher pretty much since 2010?  We must, however, keep an open mind on him.
  • Utility infielder John McDonald.  Why did Neal trade for this guy, and why is he still on the team?
  • Gerritt Cole, Indianapolis (AAA) -  6 G, 29.1 IP, 2-1, 2.45 ERA, 21 K, 17 BB, 1.30 WHIP
  • Jameson Taillon, Altoona (AA) - 6 G, 35.2 IP, 2-3, 3.03 ERA, 36 K, 12 BB, 1.18 WHIP
  • Alen Hanson, SS, Bradenton (High A) - 114 AB, .237, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 24 K, 11 BB, .617 OPS
  • Gregory Polanco, OF, Bradenton - 111 AB, .324, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 17 K, 12 BB, .907 OPS
  • Josh Bell, OF, West Virginia (Low A) - 113 AB, .274, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 30 K, 10 BB, .815 OPS
  • Luis Heredia, P - Will pitch for short season Jamestown Jammers when their season begins in June.
  • These are the Top Six prospects in the organization.  Cole is 22 years old, Taillon and Polanco are 21, Hanson and Bell are 20, and Heredia is 18.
  • As I said, the team is in a better position, Wins-and-Losses-wise, than I thought they would be at this point, so that's a good thing.
  • Starting pitchers, with the exception of Burnett, have not shown the ability to go deep into games.  If this trend continues, that will tax a bullpen that has been very good so far, especially the back end of that pen.  Need I remind you that Jason Grilli is 36 years old?
  • We all anticipate the arrival of Gerritt Cole sometime around Father's Day.  Will that be enough?
  • In other words, as I have said in both my Spring Training and Season Preview posts, where this team goes all depends on its starting pitching, and it has to pick up and be better than it has for the team to sustain its current +.500 status and end the WRLS*, let alone compete for a post-season berth.
* In case you forgot, "WRLS" stands for World Record Losing Streak.

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