2014 Pittsburgh Pirates: Walker-ring Off the Plank

ScubaSteveAvery

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Jul 29, 2007
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After last year's breakout season, the big question surrounding Huntington's Pirates was whether they could repeat their 2013 season. They had a quiet off-season, opting to trust that the loss of both Burnett (to Philadelphia) and Justin Morneau (Colorado) won't hurt them too much. The swap of Burnett for Gerrit Cole seems great on paper, but  Cole will have to prove whether he can provide above average pit chines while eating innings. 
 
The offense wasn't upgraded much. The core of McCutcheon, Walker, Alvarez and Marte is solid.  This offseason the front office extended Marte with a 6 year, $31 million contract. First base is a weak spot and will feature a platoon of Gaby Sanchez and Travis Ishikawa.  Right field is another weak spot with Tabata still manning RF.  The loss of Morneau and Byrd will hurt, but Pittsburg's offense was 4th best last year, so it is still above average. The mid-season addition of top hitting prospect Gregory Polanco may ease the outfield's RF weakness. 
 
The rotation contains the most questions marks.  Heading the rotation is Francisco Liriano, who was great last year (and on Opening Day this year), but has never started more than 30 games in a season.  Cole will be expected to step in as their #2 in his first full season in the majors. Wandy Rodriguez, Charlie Morton, and the corpse of Edison Volquez round out the final 3/5s of the rotation.  All have major question marks. Rodriguez is coming off a flexor tendon injury that cost him a majority of 2013.  Charlie Morton was good last year, but pedestrian in years past.  He also has only one season with more than 20 starts in his 6 year career. Volquez has been a mess since 2011 and hasn't been above average since 2008. Top prospect Jameson Taillon is expected to make the jump from AAA to MLB this year and should help out. 
 
The Pirate's farm system is deep and is rated the third best system in the Majors by Baseball Prospectus. Outside of Polanco and Taillon, the Pirates have three prospects that could be ready in 2015: Tyler Glasnow (SP), Reese McG uire (C), and Josh Bell (OF). Glasnow's ceiling is a #3/4 starter.  Reese is considered a 5-tool player by BP, and Josh Bell profiles as an everyday switch hitter with pop. 
 
Most predictions have the Pirates between 78 (PECOTA) and 83 (Jaffe) wins, a 10-15 game regression from last year. The quiet offseason probably hurt the Pirates in the short term, but with 5 potential impact prospects on the horizon, it was right to stay the course. 
 
The Pirates opened the season with a 1-0 walk off win, over the Cubs, by Neil Walker in the 10th inning.  Liriano out dueled Samardzija, striking out 10 in 6 innings. 
 

ScubaSteveAvery

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Jul 29, 2007
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Jameson Taillon is now out until 2015 and will undergo Tommy John surgery.  Interestingly, the UCL was not torn, but merely damaged and the team felt TJS was the best option for him:
 
Taillon informed the club of pain in his elbow after an outing in mid-March. Initial scans showed that the ligament was intact, so Taillon and the Pirates sought more medical opinions. General manager Neal Huntington said the ligament was "compromised," which he described as: "It's not ruptured. It's not fully torn. But it's not a completely healthy ligament.
"When the ligament is ruptured, it's a no-brainer. He needs surgery," Huntington said. "When the ligament is compromised, now it's a gray area."
Huntington said Taillon's command suffered in spring training, but that in and of itself was not a red flag. Taillon, Huntington said, also said he felt good immediately after his most recent outing.
"This was more of an acute injury and that's where the ligament's been compromised," Huntington said. "Probably felt it more on one pitch than anything else but it wasn't like a clear rupture of the ligament where it's a no-brainer to have Tommy John. The ligament was compromised. The course of action was a conservative, aggressive rehab treatment. But his symptoms just didn't get better. He, and we, felt that it was best to go ahead and have the surgery now."
 
 
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
 

MakMan44

stole corsi's dream
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Aug 22, 2009
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https://twitter.com/BiertempfelTrib/status/474329459827281920
 
EDIT: El_Coffee being Polanco's twitter handle. 
 

Snodgrass'Muff

oppresses WARmongers
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Mar 11, 2008
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If Marte has broken out of his funk, then they have the best starting outfield, no doubt.  When you look at 4th and 5th outfielders, they still have a pretty good claim with Snider and Tabata.