Today 93.7 The Fan KDKA-FM hosted a Legends of the Fan event at the Capital Grille in downtown Pittsburgh. These events usually bring an audience closer to players, coaches, or those around the game. Today’s event was no exception, as local legend Bob Pompeani was joined by Pittsburgh Pirates announcers Greg Brown and Bob Walk for a roundtable discussion on all things Buccos. The usual topics were discussed, from Jeong-ho Kang to Pedro Alvarez and back again. There were also some interesting tidbits about the origins of some of Brownie’s signature calls. (NOTE: look for an update to this article as audio becomes available)
To end the show, Pompeani asked both Brown and Walk for a bold prediction for the Pirates in 2015. And each delivered. So without further ado, here are Greg Brown and Bob Walk‘s bold predictions for 2015. We’ll give you the quote and then give you our thoughts.
"“Marte will hit 20 home runs, steal 50 bases, and be an all star in 2015.” – Bob Walk"
No one is more bullish on Marte than I am, but I take exception to this prediction, ever so slightly. While I think 2015 WILL be an all-star year for Starling Marte, I don’t think 20 home runs or 50 SB are likely. Close, but not likely. I’ve previously said that Marte’s ceiling is high enough that 20 home runs seems like a good possibility. However, I don’t think Marte will get enough opportunities to swipe 50 bags. Again looking back to my previous thoughts, Marte has proven to be more of a fit for the Pirates current lineup in the 5th or 6th spot in the order, and as such, I feel that the opportunities to steal will not be as plentiful if he was batting 2nd. Also, taking into account Marte’s slugging percentage which came in at a crisp .453 for 2014 with 29 doubles, I don’t think the need to put him in scoring position will be there. Injuries and Gregory Polanco ineffectiveness might force him into the #2 spot, and Clint Hurdle has spoken on the Pirates being more aggressive on the base paths in 2015, so I reserve the right to change this opinion later.
The man responsible for the best home run call in all of baseball had this bold prediction for us:
"“Burnett will have 17 wins and an ERA less than 3.0.” – Greg Brown"
When asked for followup, Greg had mentioned how much healthier A.J. Burnett will be this year and that he still has enough in the tank to put up these kind of numbers. I just flat-out don’t see it. Beyond his nearly year-long hernia injury, Batman’s walks rose to 4 free passes per nine innings while his strikeouts per nine innings fell almost by 2 (9.8 to 8.0) from his 2013 numbers. The strikeouts were still there, but these elevated walks and less strikeouts will lead to more baserunners and balls in play, leading to more runs, leading to more no-decisions and losses, you get the idea. While I really don’t think Burnett’s number in the loss column won’t be especially high, I do see a lot of no-decisions for him in 2015. He will do exactly what we expect our no. 3 starter to do: go out there every fifth day and give us a chance. For the record, I am officially predicting 13-15 wins for him and an ERA around 3.5-3.75. 17 wins and a sub-3.00 ERA are “ace” numbers and he is just not that pitcher anymore.
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The fact that we are sitting here debating whether Marte will have 20 HR, and if an all-star level pitcher will get 17 wins or 15 truly makes me excited for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015. As a quick personal aside – my wife and I moved back to my beloved native Pittsburgh in May of 2014 after a three-year stint in the wilderness in the Washington D.C. metro region. During that time, being able to hear Greg Brown and Bob Walk on my mlb.tv package truly made me feel like I was home. Your home team announcers end up holding a special place in your heart. When the 2013 Bucs broke the streak, I got to hear the call from someone I came to consider a “friend” of sorts in Brownie. It was a good experience to hear them talk so candidly about their thoughts on the team. These guys have their fingers on the pulse of the team at all times. If they are this excited and this bullish on our chances in 2015, then I’m happy to join them. All in all, the discussion was lively and really made the wait to Opening Day even more excruciating.
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments, follow us on twitter, and let us know how you feel about these bold takes for 2015!