At the conclusion of the Pirates' 2-1 victory over the Dodgers on Friday, they had played their 54th game of the season. They had, literally, completed one-third of the 2014 season with a record of 25-29.
So, where are they?
This has not been a continuation of the magical 2013 season. Disappointments have been many - the starting pitching, with the exception of Gerrit Cole, has been lousy, the bullpen has been overloaded, Jordy Mercer can't hit, Pedro Alvarez continues to frustrate the fan base, losing Russell Martin to the DL really hurt, and no production from the right field spot. And, oh yeah, the front office did NOTHING in the off-season to improve the team, and just when in the hell are they going to bring up Gregory Polanco?
On the other hand, there have been bright spots - MVP Andrew McCutchen is hitting over .300 and leading the league in walks, Neil Walker is having an All-Star caliber season, Cole, as noted above, has the makings of an honest-to-God staff ace, the likes of which the Pirates haven't seen since Doug Drabek, and with the trade for Ike Davis, the first base platoon of Davis and Gaby Sanchez is looking pretty good. And who knew that Josh Harrison would turn into a potential season-saver?
Prior to the season, many people thought that the Pirates might be headed for a bit of a comedown after last year's 94 win season. Such things have happened before in Pirates history when a promising season was followed by a disappointing one just before another excellent one (1958-59-60, and 1988-89-90/91/92; you can look it up), so perhaps this isn't surprising, and maybe it shouldn't be too worrying either.
Many doomsayers may say "yeah, and looked what happened last night, a 12-2 blowout loss." That's the least thing to worry about. There is still two-thirds of a season to be played. At this point, I am going to stand by my pre-season prediction of 89 wins. I also said that would be good for one of the two NL wild card slots. Not so sure about that one right now, but let's keep hoping.
And, hey, Gregory Polanco is on the way. It will be good to do away with the wailing and gnashing of teeth over him NOT being here, but let's not put too much pressure on the kid who, after all, will be facing major league pitching for the first time. In his first year, similarly heralded prospect Barry Bonds hit only .223 in 113 games in 1986 (although he did hit 16 HRs and scored 72 runs that year; he was pretty good).
And speaking of predictions, the exalted members of the famed Allegheny Sandwich Shoppe Breakfast Club went on record with some predictions for the Pirates going forward. Here are my answers to the questions posed:
Total wins for the Pirates in 2014: 89
Total HR's for Pedro Alvarez: 29
Final BA for Andrew McCutchen: .311
Total wins for Francisco Liriano: 8
We'll see what happens.