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Pirates: The Official Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

Pittsburgh, the City of Champions, as we Pittsburgh sports fans like to call it.  The Steelers and their six 6 Super Bowl trophies.  The Penguins and their three Stanley Cup wins.  Pitt basketball, the reigning Big East regular-season champions.  Then, you have the Pirates.  With 18 consecutive losing seasons, the Pirates are out of place with these other teams, and often out of mind amidst many Pittsburgh sports fans.  Can we blame those who count out the Pirates even before the season starts?  Until the team is able to put together a winning season (notice I set the bar at a winning season, not playoffs or World Series), then they will remain an  afterthought.  Coming off a dreadful 57-105 campaign, the Pirates look to right the ship with a new manager, Clint Hurdle.  With a few additions and subtractions to last year’s team, Pirates fans will hold their collective breath, as they know the losing streak will end at some point.  Will 2011 be the season?

2011 Predictions:

(Player Ratings On A 1-10 Scale: 1 being horrible and 10 being elite)

National League Central Division Finish, Record: 6th, 66-96

Batting Order: Top of the order is good, the bottom, well, not so much.

1. Jose Tabata – Left Field – Projected Stats: .273, 18 HR, 67 RBI – Tabata was impressive in his first year in the bigs and is still developing.  The only questions about the former Yankee prospect are his attitude and desire. 7.5/10

2. Neil Walker – Second Base – Projected States: .272, 14 HR, 60 RBI – I look for Walker to take a step back in his first full season at the big league level.  Walker is making a name for himself at second defensively after not having a position coming up to the majors.  He will have to pick and choose pitches more carefully.  Taking more pitches by hitting second could cause a setback. 7.5/10

3. Andrew McCutchen – Center Field – Projected Stats: .301, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 67 Steals – This will be a breakout year for McCutchen, who MLB Network named as the best centerfielder in baseball.  Debate over hitting leadoff or third in the lineup, but as the best player, he needs to hit third. 8.5/10

4. Lyle Overbay – First Base – Projected Stats: .264, 13 HR, 56 RBI – Offseason acquisition led baseball in doubles earlier in his career.  I am not a fan of him hitting cleanup, and feel that he is better suited as number 6 hitter.  Huge defensive upgrade from last season, however. 6.5/10

5. Pedro Alvarez – Third Base – Projected Stats: .273, 30 HR, 82 RBI – “El Toro” made his much-hyped debut last season and didn’t disappoint.  He should hit cleanup and will be the big bat for the Buccos.  He needs to cut down on his strikeouts and become better defensively. 8/10

6. Garrett Jones – Right Field – Projected Stats: .266, 23 HR, 71 RBI – Pitchers figured Jones out last season and showed that he couldn’t hit a breaking ball.  Will split time with the newly acquired Matt Diaz in the outfield.  Defensive liability.  Solid power.  7/10

7. Chris Snyder – Catcher – Projected Stats: .261, 11 HR, 56 RBI – Starting the season on the disabled list, Snyder will do the majority of the catching this season and next until Tony Sanchez is ready to go.  Very good defensive catcher, but struggles at the plate.  6/10

8. Ronny Cedeno – Shortstop – Projected Stats: .254, 10 HR, 47 RBI – The Pirates wanted to acquire a shortstop this offseason, but struck out.  Cedeno just isn’t very good offensively or in the field.  Doesn’t seem interested at times, but is the best the Pirates have, which isn’t saying a lot.  5/10

Overall Lineup: 7/10


Matt Diaz – Kills lefthanders, will split time with Jones.

Steven Pearce – His last chance at the big league level.

Josh Rodriguez – The Rule 5 pick made team over Pedro Ciriaco.  Can’t field, but provides offense.

Ryan Doumit – Pirates wanted the catcher traded, but at $5 million, he is overpriced.

John Bowker – Out of minor league options.  Provides a power bat off of the bench.

Overall: 6/10.  Best offensive bench they have had in awhile.  Defensively though, way below average outside of Diaz.

Starting Pitchers:  Among the worst in the majors

James McDonald – Projected Stats: 12 W, 9 L, 3.84 ERA – McDonald, the former untouchable Dodger talent, had a good, short season with the Pirates last year.  Pressure is on to live up to expectations as the Pirates’ best pitcher this season.  Needs to show teams haven’t figured him out. 7/10

Kevin Correia – Projected Stats: 9 W, 9 L, 4.15 ERA – Correia had a down year for the Padres, but had a good year two seasons ago and will look to recapture that with the Pirates.  Opening day starter in Chicago with a lifetime ERA over 8 at Wrigley Field. 6.5/10

Ross Ohlendorf – Projected Stats: 7 W, 14 L, 4.32 ERA – Coming off a one win season, Ohlendorf will look to earn his $2 million contract that he was awarded at arbitration.  Needs more offensive support this season. 6.5/10

Paul Maholm – Projected Stats: 8 W, 12 L, 4.01 ERA – Maholm should be traded by the deadline and, for his sake, I hope he is so that he has a chance to win somewhere.  The southpaw will open up at PNC Park for the home opener. 7/10

Charlie Morton – Projected Stats: 10 W, 13 L, 4.06 ERA – With Morton, the story never changes.  He has the physical tools of Roy Halladay according to scouts, but his problems are all mental.  The Pirates best pitcher during camp and, yes, I believe this will be the season he will actually turn things around.


Starting Pitching:  6.5/10


Jeff Karstens – Long relief and good spot starter.

Mike Crotta – Average pitcher who claimed the last spot in the bullpen.

Chris Resop – Impressive year last season, looks to build off of it.

Garrett Olson – Late arrival in camp, good lefty in bullpen.

Jose Veras – Decent pitcher with experience

Evan Meek – Pirates only All-Star a season ago, will be setup man this year, but could have closer job by midseason.

Joel Hanrahan – Named the closer before the season began.  Good, hard thrower who is reliable

Bullpen Grade:  7/10

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I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com

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In response to “Pirates: The Official Pittsburgh Pirates Preview”

  1. Johnny D. Mar 30 20114:55 pm


    Im sorry i can’t agree with almost anything you ranked. our pitching staff at best is a 4 overall. You seriously think that McDonald and Maholm are 7? Maholm is somewhere around a 4 and McDonald has done nothing yet so i’d say 5. My main man Ross is deff a 3 right now and Morton is a 2. As for the Batting order you still overranked them even though they are good. Tabata (probably gunna buy his or Cutch’s Jersey) is a 6.5, Walker needs to prove himself again so he is a 6. Cutch is a 9, Alvarez is a 7 until he can prove that he is patient at the plate. Overbay is a 5 though he will jack about 20+ hrs with the short porch. Snyder at a 6 very lenient, I guess i have to agree with you there and Cedeno at a 5 is hilarious, he is for sure a 3.

    I am optimistic about the season, but with there lack of pitching they won’t go anywhere unless Ross can pitch like he did 2 years ago, Morton the same, McDonald will hopefully become what he is built up to be. O jees I just realized i for got Correia, which by the way he is a 4 as well, he needs to pitch the same as last year, and Maholm… he will be his mediocre self and probably go 10-15 or something. Your ERA is a little off too. If Morton has a 4.06 ERA ill put an application in to be the next Pirate Parrot cause that is just hilarious coming off of a what was it… 8+ ERA? yea i saw one of his 2 wins last year it was the only good outing lol. Corriea will prolly go somewhere in the 4.5+ range, Maholm prolly 4.4 Boss Ross… unfortunately probably 4.5+ and McDonald’s is about right I guess… I have no faith in him yet.

    I like all of the BA stats those are about right except for maybe Alvarez he is probably more around a .260. Walker as well could be high we deff need a repeat performance outta him cause remember when he was like uber bad? Hope he doesn’t pick up bad habits. Cutch could hit higher, but I guess that’s right and Tabata i think could bat around .290, though the spring training says different.

    I would like to say i will be apart of the 2011 opening day attendance and hopefully you will be making an appearance there as well. Good article as always.

    1. Michael Waterloo Mar 31 20116:00 am


      Ahh Johnny D, the reason I love writing is for debates and discussion. Thanks for the read and comments but yes the pitching staff is horrible, but a 4? That’s like altoona. Maybe I was generous but Maholm and McDonald are better than we think. McDonald was always a huge talent and I agree he needs to prove himself and Maholm was wanted at the deadline last year by many competitors. Ohlendorf suffered from lack of run production and Correia is marginal. Morton I agree was horrible and may be again. He has the tools and looked damn good in spring training (1 hitter thru 6.1 innings yesterday). So maybe I’m a little optimistic but yes they still aren’t great by any stretch.

      Tabata and Walker deserve their rankings after their rookie years. Walker was names to All-rookie team and he may regress as I said but he proved the critics wrong once and will look to again. Patience will come for Pedro and he will always strike out, I say 175 this year but if he produces, who cares. The Orioles didn’t care about Mark Reynolds strikeouts or horrible average, same with Adam Dunn. Cedeno maybe I was generous but he has his game here and there but I can’t stand him. Cutch had a slight slump but I can see why you would say a 9. I just want him to show it all this year (I have his jersey). He is NOT the top centerfielder in baseball though. Maybe the national league. Snyder sucks but has a okay ranking cause of his defense.

      Opening day ill be in New York covering the Penguins-Islanders game but will be there for next homestand and basically every other game. See ya soon.

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