Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Five Things That Need to Happen For the Pirates to Compete in 2010
As I get ready to watch some live spring training baseball on MLB Network, anything can happen. Even the Pirates could (though not likely) catch lightning in a bottle. here are five things the Bucs will need to happen in order to compete in 2010.
5. Bullpen- The bullpen needs to be rock solid. The signing of Octavio Dotel, for a change a good Bucco signing, needs to work. Too many late leads blown the last couple of seasons. A team like the Bucs can't blow 15-20 games that should be in the win column.
They have the arms in the pen to be successfull. Dotel, Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek are all power right handed arms with tremendous stuff, they just have to do the job.
4. Break Out Season- One of the holdovers finally has to have a breakout season. I'm expecting Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones to get better, so who's it going to be? From a group of Andy Laroche, Brandon Moss, Lastings Milledge, Ryan Doumit and I will throw Jeff Clement's name in there for the hell of it- I'm looking at Milledge and/or Doumit.
Milledge has every tool and he's healthy and motivated. He's running out of time so he's going to be the guy. I like what he showed in his two month stint in Pittsburgh last season. As for Doumit, everyone know how strongly I am not a fan of his, but similar to Milledge, he's running out of chances.
Doumit needs to stay healthy and start swinging the bat. If one, or both have big seasons then suddenly the Bucs have a decent lineup throwing in Cutch and Jones.
3.Youth Be Served- Pedro Alvarez will likely get the call sometime between June and July and possibly be joine in Pittsburgh by the much anticipated debuts of Jose Tabata and Brad Lincoln. For the Bucs to have any shot at competing, Alvarez needs to come up and hit the cover off the ball from day one and hit with power.
It has been done. Look at how Evan Longoria and Ryan Braun came up and made an immediate impact for the Rays and Brewers respectively. Alvarez will be carrying a ton of pressure to be that big middle of the order bat that the Bucs so desperately need. If Tabata and Lincoln could produce similar results then the Bucs would really have the ball rolling.
2. Starting pitching- The Bucs have a young rotation and it's usually that third year around that young arms take the next step. Paul Maholm should be the staff ace. It's his time to get it done. Charlie Morton will take big steps to becoming a legitimate big league guy. Ross Ohlendorf just needs to do exactly what he did last season.
Zach Duke flat out needs to be better. Now I hear you saying that he was an all-star and the Bucs best pitcher last season. He had an ok season and nothing better. A starters job is to give his team a chance to win everytime out and Duke doesn't do that. The Bucs won only 11 times that Duke started last season, all 11 times Duke got the W. He is either really good or really bad. He needs to start performing like an ace.
Suddenly if the starters put things together then you have four guys, maybe five if Lincoln can come up after the all-star break, that can get deep into a ball game and give the team a chance to win.
If all four of these things happen and that's highly unlikely, but for this instance let's just say that they do. Then the big thing that would have to happen in order for the Bucs to compete in 2010 is.............
1. Ownership Opens the Checkbook to Improve the Club- Say the Bucs are hanging around .500 at the all-star break and are chasing a wild card spot. What will Bob Nutting do? Will he open the checkbook and go get the big power bat the team needs? Will he add another big arm to the rotation?
Now Neil Huntington has said often that they have the resources to do exactly that. I have been a big supporter of NH's in the past but when it comes down to this scenerio, I'm tired of the empty promises. It's time to Show Me and quit telling me about what is going to happen.
When it comes down to it as good as the players could possibly perform, we all know that Nutting will drop the ball at the end of the day. Cross your fingers Pirates fans.