I consider finding a 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates preview a treasure. Finding old treasures is something I enjoy. It wasn’t quite like finding the newspaper the day after Elvis died, but I did find an old newspaper. It was pretty harmless, didn’t look like much, but we bet for fans back in 2009, it was hope…it was all Buccos fans had.
So while it wasn’t a headline celebrating the Bill Mazeroski home run or the glorious day in 1979 that Kent Tekulve shut down the Orioles. It was just another Pirates baseball preview in a long stretch of losing that read like an obituary. Pirates fans could wish and pray for hope to spring eternal, but it wasn’t happening.
The thought of Andrew McCutchen becoming an NL MVP a few years later wasn’t mentioned. It was just to hard to even fathom at that time. The thought of Pedro Alvarez becoming a player that would lead the National League in home runs, was dreamt about, but Alvarez wasn’t doing anything to help that 2009 Buccos club.
As hard as it is to type, the preview looks even more terrifying now. Let me tell you about it. I was cleaning out an old briefcase when in a pile of unimportant papers, we found the important one…., the Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Preview from the Tribune Review.
The Pirates preview couldn’t even begin to describe how doomed the Bucs would be in 2009–but looking back now, Rob Biertempfel proved it with his column.
Let’s go through it. I can promise you we won’t make it very far.
The depth chart as it was called: The incumbent at catcher was Ryan Doumit. The backup was Jason Jaramillo. The future was Doumit.
"He (Doumit) should be behind the plate through 2012. That’s mostly a tribute to Doumit’s talent, but also due to lack of catching depth in the farm system."
Thankfully, Neal Huntington had other ideas.
FIRST BASE The incumbent first baseman was Adam LaRoche. The backup was Steve Pearce. The future was Jamie Romak.
Romak had been moved to first base with Altoona, hit .208 and finally the Bucs gave up. Last year with the Cardinals in his age 27 season he hit 22 homers. Romak is with the Dodgers in 2014.
First base has been a revolving door since 2009 standing out as one of the weaknesses for the team.
SECOND BASE The incumbent at second base was Freddy Sanchez. The backup was Ramon Vazquez. The future was Shelby Ford. Damn. What a mess. Ford is playing in Fort Worth for an independent ball club. The Pirates were the last team Vazquez played for hanging up the spikes after the 2009 season. Everyone knows what happened with the injury-riddled Freddy.
THIRD BASE The incumbent at third base was Andy LaRoche. The backup was Eric Hinske. The future was Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker. One of the bright spots for the Pirates was having Walker and El Toro waiting in the wings.
SHORT STOP Jack Wilson was the incumbent. Vazquez and Luis Cruz were penciled in as backups. The future was Brian Friday, Chase d’Arnaud and Jarek Cunningham.
"It could take awhile, but this position could become on of the club’s strong…"
Ok, we are just gonna stop there.
The Pirates preview got a little worse the more we read it. The depth was nowhere to be found. The outfield and the pitching might be some of the most challenging reading we’ve had in a long time. It’s funny how your mind can let you forget the bad memories when things start going so well.
Thankfully, the Pirates have turned the corner. Sure, the team didn’t do everything they needed to this offseason. But the team is strong again. Millions of dollars are in the coffers thanks to new partnerships, especially that one with Coca-Cola.
Good for the Bucs. Good for Bob Nutting. Please just make sure I don’t ever have to read a season preview like the one we just found.