Clint Hurdle is leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to the best spring start in years.
Give us the damn Grapefruit League Champion shirts already. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a plus 14 run differential over the first week plus of Grapefruit League games.
The Bucs stand alone atop the Grapefruit League standings after defeating some of the richest teams in baseball including Mike Napoli and the Boston Red Sox, Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees, A.J. Burnett and the Philadelphia Phillies, Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays, along with Don Kelly and his Detroit Tigers.
Fangraphs. 2014 MLB Payroll projections.
The Pirates are no longer the darlings of Major League Baseball. The team has talent and it’s been showing up early in Spring Training despite the fact that the Most Valuable Player in the National League has only appeared in two games. Russell Martin, who many target as the real catalyst behind last seasons turnaround, has made just two games as well.
The World Champion Boston Red Sox have six players that will get paid more than the entire Pirates projected roster in Napoli, John Lackey, David Ortiz, Jake Peavy, Shane Victorino and Jon Lester. In fact, the Sox have 21 total players that will be paid $148,728,125 total salary, $7,082,292 avg salary [BP]
The Yankees signed the best available pitcher this offseason for a gazillion dollars.
The Phillies gave A.J. Burnett enough cash to build another house right in Philadelphia if he wants to keep his family close.
The Blue Jays were the big winners last offseason and then injuries riddled them, or they simply choked. We like the choked part of the $136 million dollar equation.
Outside of Don Kelly, the $161 million dollar Detroit Tigers could do very little against the Pirates pitching staff.
The Pirates are winning all of these Grapefruit League games while getting heavy looks at their young players late in games. Hell, sometimes early in games too. The pitching has been insane, the offense is producing timely and situational hits. It’s obvious that Center Field Smoke will be printing Grapefruit League Champions shirts very soon. And we will be wearing it proudly for years to come.