Feb 21, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) poses for a photo at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Fans Should Have Spring Fever

Pirate fans should have Spring Fever.   In fact, the temperature between their temples should be steadily rising until it reaches a fiery apex on March 31st.  Ya…that kind of spring fever.

Why?  Well, because the pirates are coming off of their first winning season in over 20 years.  The streak has been broken people.  The curse has been lifted!  THIS HOUSE……..IS CLEAAAN!!!!

Not only that, but we have all the same exorcists back in the dugout to be able to repeat the performance from last year.  If Spring is any indication…. The Pirates are who we thought they were.

The usual cast of characters are performing as expected.  McCutchen is literally toying with pitchers in Bradenton.  It’s not even fair really.  He’s hitting .588 with a 1.670 OPS in 22 at bats including 2 home runs.  Safe to say last year’s MVP came ready to play.

Pedro Alvarez is swinging the bat…well….like Pedro Alvarez swings the bat.  6 hits in 22 at bats with 4 RBI’s and 4 strikeouts.  Ya… that seems about right.  The positive is that he actually took two walks.  El Toro doesn’t like no balancear el murciélago.  (not to swing the bat)  Any walk is a good walk for Pedro.

Marte started out slow but has gotten 5 hits in his last 14 at bats.  (.357 BA)  Mercer is hitting .267 after 15 at bats and looks as if he’s seeing the ball extremely well. (.476 OBP) Russel Martin is hitting baseballs like they stole somethin’.  8 hits in 15 at bats, 4 HR’s, 9 RBI’s, 2.011 OPS.  These are players we expect to perform and for the most part in the small sample we’ve been given… they have.

The surprises of camp have been Chris Dickerson who is hitting .389 with a .500 OBP.  Don’t forget, this is a guy who if you look at his career stats, he has always performed when he’s gotten the chance. For one reason or another he never really gotten an extended look.  But make no mistake, this guy can play.

Gaby Sanchez is proving he’s no fluke going 5 for 11 with 3 2b’s and 2 RBI’s so far.  It’s worth noting as well…. 4 for 6 against righty’s.  Again, I know it’s a small sample, but so far so good for Gaby Hey Hey.  Josh Harrison is making a strong case for some early playing time (maybe in right?) by going 7 for 17 with 2 doubles and a home run.  We still have J-Hay folks. Let’s not forget about him.  If all else fails… Trust in J-Hay.

On the other side of that coin, there of course has been some struggles.  Many thought Neil Walker would start strong, but it just hasn’t come together yet for the Pittsburgh Kid.  4 for 18 with 6 strikeouts.  Very un-neil like.  Perhaps he’s experiencing a residual hangover from the postseason.  I’m not real sure what’s going on there, but in all honesty, I’m not real worried about Neil..  He’ll come around.  Travis Snyder has had a strong spring hitting .333 with 2 doubles, a Home Run and 6 RBI’s.  His 6 strikeouts are a bit concerning, but he looks healthy for a change.  So he’s got that going for him.

His counterpart Jose Tabata is doing unbelievably worse than expected.  Just once before he retires would I love to Jose Tabata come into camp 200 pounds and ready to be a speed guy again.  Does anyone remember when Jose Tabata could actually steal a base?  It looks like all he cares about stealing lately is cookies out of the cookie jar.  He’s hitting 3 for 19.  5 strikeouts.  1 RBI.  Will someone take the cheese steak out of his hand and give him a rice cake instead please? …for crying out loud Jose!  Dejar de comer!!

Andrew Lambo couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a California Redwood.  2 hits in 21 at bats.  (.095) Looks like the model dating Lambeezy is bound to spend more time at AAA.

Chris McGuiness started out extremely strong but has lost his mojo 3 for 13 so far in March.  Travis Ishikawa hasn’t gotten many looks but hasn’t impressed when he has (0-5).   And… do we really have to mention Clint Barmes?  (2-16).  Oh, but he’s great on defense! Says the people who don’t really watch the actual games..

Overall, I’m fairly happy with the offensive progression from the projected starters.  I think most fans would be.  The problem areas in right field and first base remain a bit murky.  But if Gaby continues to prove that he can hit right handers, then problem solved at first.  If not, McGuiness looks serviceable if nothing else.

Right field will remain an issue as it did last year.  But Travis Snyder looks to be in better condition and other options like Josh Harrison and Chris Dickerson could supplement Tabata should he not wake up from the Winter hibernation.

We’re almost half way through Spring Training so we’ll all be watching to see if those who are lagging behind can get their sea legs by opening day.  There’s still time, but remember….the Jolly Roger waits for no man.

Raise it.

Tags: Andrew McCutchen Featured Image Jose Tabata Neil Walker Pedro Alvarez Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Starling Marte

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