At the rate I'm cranking these out I might have St. Louis done by the All-Star break ... here's Part I: Milwaukee in case you missed it.
2004 At a Glance for Pittsburgh
Pythag W-L: 73-88
Runs Scored-Runs Allowed: 680-744
Lost via Free Agency: Brian Boehringer
Possible 25-Man Roster
Up and Coming
They're kind of the anti-Reds aren't they? Solid pitching and very little offense makes for mediocrity just as much as what we're seeing in Cincinnati.
There have been few things I've been as wrong about in recent years as the Brian Giles trade. While Giles is still a fine outfielder, the Padres were absolutely fleeced by giving up Oliver Perez and Jason Bay. Perez is now one of the premier pitchers in the National League, and I think Jason Bay looks like a good bet to be a solid producer for the next fifteen years.
The problem is that he's the lone highlight in a lineup that is really quite pitiful. Sure Craig Wilson had an interesting year in 2004, and Jack Wilson blew up out of nowhere, but I think both players are good bets to revert in 2005, Wilson especially. His 2004 reminded me far too much of Pokey Reese's 1999. Good batting average, low on-base percentage, and very little power. Wilson should go back to being a liability this season.
The Pirates, to their credit, do seem to realize how big of a problem their offense is, and they brought in Matt Lawton to remedy it, but along the way they lost Jason Kendall - a player who really probably deserved the large contract that Pittsburgh gave him.
There's not much help on the way either. Baseball America seems to like Pittsburgh's farm system, but outside of Zach Duke I really don't see anyone terribly exciting. It's also a very pitching heavy system, which is exactly what they don't need. It's a shame that Pittsburgh and Cincinnati share a division, because they seem to match up perfectly as trade partners. Cincinnati could jettison an outfielder and Pittsburgh could certainly stand to give up some pitching. Win-win situation, but intra-division trades are so rare that the point is moot.
Just like in 2004 it's going to come down to a lack of offense for Pittsburgh this season, and it's a pity because they've got a nice foundation of pitching on which to build.