Will the Pirates make it 20 straight losing seasons this year? It’s going to be a very discussed story since 20 is a big time number. Last year, the Pirates did show some life, and it was great to see some people filling up that great ballpark, one of the best in the league. They led the Central last year on July 25th, before fading to clinch their 19th losing season in a row.
But they have some great young talent, led by centerfielder Andrew McCutchen, and the future just maybe is starting to point forward. Second baseman Neil Walker is a good run producer in the middle of the Pirates order, but they need bounce-back years from Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata, two guys who fought injuries last year. The pitching staff had a few surprises last year, led by closer Joel Hanrahan, who was brilliant last year while becoming one of the top closers in the game. Jeff Karstens (3.38 ERA) and Charlie Morton (3.83 ERA) had career years, and hope to anchor the rotation until future stars Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are ready.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2012 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Rod Barajas||.229||.287||.430||29||16||47||0||305||w/LAD|
|1B Garrett Jones||.244||.321||.433||51||16||58||6||423|
|2B Neil Walker||.274||.334||.408||76||12||83||9||596|
|SS Clint Barmes||.244||.312||.386||47||12||39||3||446||w/HOU|
|3B Pedro Alvarez||.192||.272||.289||18||4||19||1||235|
|LF Alex Presley||.298||.339||.465||27||4||20||9||215|
|CF Andrew McCutchen||.259||.364||.456||87||23||89||23||572|
|RF Jose Tabata||.267||.349||.362||53||4||21||16||334|
Unsettled: Left field. Alex Presley is going to enter training camp as the front runner, but they also brought back Nate McLouth, who was a 20-20 guy in Pittsburgh back in 2008 and was a stolen base shy of another 20-20 in 2009. The team is pretty high on Presley, who hit .298 last year in his first extended look. He also stole nine bases, so he does provide decent speed. He lacks power though, and might not be worth adding to your fantasy roster immediately, but keep an eye on the kid.
Target: Andrew McCutchen. I am going with McCutchen here cause the only other Pirate I know that might get targeted is Jack Sparrow. But McCutchen is underrated, and his second half numbers dipped last year, possibly allowing you get him a little later than you think this year. He’s always a lock for 20-20, but I would not rule out the chance for 30-30. He’s an elite talent.
|Jeff Karstens (R)||9-9||3.38||1.21||96||33||162.1|
|Charlie Morton (R)||10-10||3.83||1.53||110||77||171.2|
|Erik Bedard (L)||5-9||3.62||1.28||125||48||129.1||w/2T|
|James McDonald (R)||9-9||4.21||1.49||142||78||171.0|
|Kevin Correia (R)||12-11||4.79||1.39||77||39||154.0|
Unsettled: Erik Bedard. Bedard can never stay healthy long enough to put an entire season together. When he’s healthy and on the mound, he’s tough. He is a good strikeout pitcher, and just last year struck out 125 in 129.1 innings. If he’s healthy, he might be worth adding in mixed leagues as well this year.
Target: None of the starters. I never like drafting closers, and always find them overrated. But Hanharan could be one of the best and you can snag him later than the big names. He converted 26 straight at one time last year. His 1.05 WHIP was great too.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Joel Hanrahan (R)||40||1.83||1.05||61||16||68.2|
|Evan Meek (R)||0||3.48||1.88||17||12||20.2|
Chasing Saves: The start of last year, everyone was just waiting for Joel Hanrahan to implode at some point. All he did was save his first 26, while converting 40 of 44 save opportunities on the season. He set career highs in about every category and sported a super nice 1.05 WHIP. The disappointing part of the bullpen was the eighth inning, which Evan Meek was suppose to fill. He had a disaster season, hindered by all kinds of injuries. But if he’s healthy, he can be great for leagues that count holds, and he sported a 2.14 ERA in 70 appearances in 2010.
The Pirates got the fans excited for a while again last year, and it was long overdue. Hopefully with the youngsters that are starting to play and the ones coming up through the system, they can give their fans something to cheer for in the in near future. With Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols leaving the NL Central, the Pirates could hang around for a while like last year, but still I think this team is a few years away.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the St Louis Cardinals.
Brent Meyer is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Brent in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of brentameyer.
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