Oct 7, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (13) in the dugout before playing the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the National League divisional series at PNC Park. The St. Louis Cardinals won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Doomsday is upon us!! It’s the end of the world!!! It’s been said by all kinds of people throughout the history of time. But has the world ever ended? No….no it has not.
So when I read that people are continuously predicting that it’s the end of the world in Pittsburgh because our ownership laid an egg in the offseason (up to this point) I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. Only one thing….that argument is ridiculous.
Why all of a sudden are we going to be 10-15 wins worse than last year when our roster is actually better then it was going into spring training a year ago? That’s right, you heard me.. It’s better then it was a year ago.
Don’t believe me? Have a seat and I’ll prove it to you with a little thing called facts.
Take a gander at the starting rotation opening day last year. AJ Burnett. Wandy Rodriguez. Jeff Locke. Jonathan Sanchez. James McDonald. Can you look at me with a straight face and tell me that our starting rotation this year of Francisco Liriano. Gerrit Cole. Wandy Rodriguez. Charlie Morton and Edison Volquez is worse than that? Keeping in mind that we still have Jeff Locke? If you can, I will call you a liar and ask you to leave the room so the grownups can now have a conversation.
Our starting pitching situation has improved from last year. Aside from all of the pitchers I mentioned, we also have Jameson Taillon, Jeanmar Gomez, Brandon Cumpton, and Kyle McPhearson (second half). That is ten options at starting pitcher on our roster. Two of which were in the opening day starting rotation last year…All of which are better than Jonathan Sanchez. Fact. We’re in better shape this year at starting pitcher, even without AJB.
Maybe it’s because we didn’t sign a first basemen or a right fielder yet… ahh yes.. maybe that is why we’re not going to be a contender this year. Hmm…I see. So remind me. Who was starting at first base for us last year when we were leading the way in the NL Central?
I’ll tell you. Gaby Sanchez. Same guy starting at first this year. It would have been nice to upgrade. They tried to get James Loney, but were outbid because at that time they were still saving money to sign Burnett. And would you really give up a first round draft pick and pay $15million for Kendrys Morales? I didn’t think so. If you said yes, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the room again.
“Oh but he platooned with Garrett Jones! We lost Garrett Jones! ” Says the angry mob…
Well… let me spark your memory. Garrett Jones was our opening day starting right fielder last year and yes he did platoon at first base. But do we really remember him? The guy finished with a .233 batting average and he had more strikeouts than hits. Ya. He was our starting right fielder and part time first basemen. And guess what….we were in first place IN SPITE OF THAT.
Let’s talk first base. If Gaby Sanchez, who came in to spring training fit as a fiddle, can still hit lefty’s and if Andrew Lambo or Travis Ishikawa can hit over .233 against righty’s, guess what. It’s the same production or more that we got last year. And if you need reminded (again), that production had us in first place in the NL Central until late August. So what’s all the hub-bub.. bub? Oh ya..I forgot.. right field.
Sep 20, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Jose Tabata (31) is greeted at home plate by center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) after Tabata hit a solo home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s talk right field. You can’t tell me that a platoon of Jose Tabata, who hit .282 last year, and a healthy Travis Snider is not a better option than Garrett Jones in right. And let’s not even mention Gregory Polanco, because then the right field argument turns into a real laugher. If you can tell me with a straight face that we’re not in better shape in right field going into this year than we were going into last year, then again… you are a liar and I’m going to have to ask you to leave the room.
“But what about Marlon Byrd!” Says the woe is me population. “We didn’t re-sign Marlon Byrd!” Ok…so… what about him? He played for us for a month people. We were 22 games over .500 when he got here. (in a loud but slow voice) THAT IS PRETTY GOOD..
“But we lost Justin Morneau! What about him!” Screams the panicked crowd… Again. He was here a month. And really? You want him back? I’ll give you that Byrd would have been nice to have, but that means Polanco doesn’t play in the 2nd half. And Morneau? Yeah.. uhh…Neau-thanks. His play in Pittsburgh wasn’t worth $2 million, let alone $12.
So really. Look at the numbers. Look at what we have instead of what we didn’t get. We are better at right then a year ago at this time, and we didn’t lose anything at first. We did not significantly upgrade. That is painfully obvious. But what we had last year was good enough to compete for first all the way up to September, so why is it not good enough this year? Because we lost AJ Burnett?
We still have the NL Home Run Champ. We still have the best player in the League and reigning MVP at Center Field. We still have one of the best defensive catchers, one of the brightest young left-fielders, an up and coming shortstop, and we didn’t lose one shark out of the tank.
So uhh….why again are we going to stink? Is not signing an over-priced free agent really going to doom our season to failure? Don’t count on it folks.
It’s a long season. There will be ups and downs. There will be hot streaks and cold streaks. But one thing you can bank on is that, if we stay healthy, we’re more talented then most any other team out there in the National League. And talent wins ballgames.
So take the boards off your windows. Come out of your storm cellars. Quit stocking up on canned goods. Quit listening to Mark Madden. He knows nothing about baseball. The world isn’t ending because AJ Burnett split. In fact, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the temperature is rising..
But I do forecast rain in the future. Oh yes.. Starting in April, it will be raining cannon balls in Pittsburgh.
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