Pirates Mix blog         Write for Pirates blog    
Write about the Pirates
We believe that you the avid fan, student journalist, and or freelance writer deserve to be heard. Avid fans have a strong desire to hear from the common (or not so common) "man" as well. You are always free to write about the material of your choice, in your own unique style, and on your own schedule. So vent,enlighten and share with us!
Contact us at: writers@sportsmixed.com
Enjoy Pirates rumors, news, talk?
Please help us spread the word on the Sports Mixed Network by letting friends, and family know about it. The more we grow our community of avid fans, the more features we can add. So please send a Tweet, Facebook message or better yet tell them in person.

Questions for 2010

Ah, February 17th is upon us, and that means that pitchers and catchers are starting to work-out. Heading into this spring, there are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered about the 2010 Pirates. About the only certainly's is that Andrew McCutchen will be in center field, and there will be eight other players on the field with him. McCutchen isn't your typical franchise player, but he is someone that is very explosive on the base paths and can add some pop at times. In 108 games last year, he batted .286, with 9 triples, 12 home runs, and had an on-base percentage of .365. When on base, McCutchen stole bases at an 81.5% clip, which is better than most. There were only ten players last year, with more stolen bases and a higher success rate.
Many people believe that 2010, will be the year of the sophomore slump for McCutchen, however, since he started back in 2005, in the Gulf Coast League, his statistics have remained pretty consistent each year. His power numbers increased slightly with the Pirates last year, as they should a little. He is around better trainers, has a better facility to train at, and has a position to play everyday. Personally, I don't see him having the sophomore slump that so many are projecting.
Andrew McCutchen is a good place to start building a young franchise, he's just a different type of good. Teams are again starting to focus more on speed than relying on the home run. Let's face it, with the 'Steroid Era' hopefully behind us, teams aren't looking for that monstrous guy that'll crush 70 homers in a season.
With a strong foundation, this team will once again slowly start to compete. So, what are some of the other questions heading into the spring, let's take a look at what we have.
1. Will Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones be able to hold down everyday positions in left and right field respectively? Milledge has been highly touted on his path up through the minors, but has never really became that guy he was projected to be. Jones, falls into the same category as McCutchen, we he be affected by the sophomore slump. He had better numbers in fewer games than McCutchen last year, .293 average, 21 home runs, and a .372 on-base %, in just 82 games for the Pirates. If Jones can perform at the same level, it will have a great impact on the success of this team.
2. Is Jeff Clement ready to be the everyday first baseman? As of right now, he is projected to be the Pirates opening day first baseman. He was rated the #42 prospect going into the 2008 season. The Pirates liked what they saw out of him at Indianapolis last season, when he was acquired with Ronny Cedeno and three other minor leaguers, in the deal that sent Ian Snell and Jack Wilson to the Mariners. In just 27 games for AAA Indianapolis, Clement had a .313 on-base %, and 7 home runs, and drove in 22 runs. He has a .282 career batting average in parts of five seasons in the minors. He is a left-handed bat that the Pirates can use in the lineup, assuming he performs.
3. Will the starting pitching perform at the level they are capable of? Heading into spring, the rotation is looking like this. Maholm, Ohlendorf, Duke, Morton, and Hart.
Hart is the biggest question mark of the five, as he struggled last season to find victories. Hart was 4 - 9 with a subpar ERA of 5.44 in 14 starts, 18 total games. He will need to have a good spring and get off to a fast start. The other four starters have all shown flashes of how good they really can pitch. Consistency is key when it comes to the starting staff. This is something that the pitchers have lacked for many seasons in Pittsburgh. It would be nice to see these guys feed off of each other and be competitive, like we know they can. Having three fifteen game winners on the staff is not asking too much, is it? Maybe, the Colorado Rockies were the only team to accomplish this feat last season. How many people put there remember Todd Ritchie? He is the last Pirate pitcher to win 15 games in a season, doing it in 1999. You would have to go back to 1992, to find the next 15 game winner (Doug Drabek).
4. Will the bullpen show their improvement on the field? It shouldn't be hard to improve upon last years numbers. The bullpen was tied with Arizona, for the second worst ERA in the NL last season. They converted a mere 28 of 43 save opportunities, and only the Mets had fewer bullpen wins with 17 (the Pirates had 18). Heading into spring the staff looks much better than a year ago, with the closer role now being handled by Octavial Dotel, who was acquired to replace Matt Capps.
These are just a few of the many questions that the Pirates will be facing this upcoming season, and according to the ownership regime, we as fans should be very excited about this team. This is a big year for the front office of the team as well. We are heading into a season of uncertainty, with ownership in question about being cheap and not caring. I think that this year will say a lot about how committed they really are to putting a winning product out on the field.