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Red Reporter Previews: Pittsburgh Pirates


I'm Clint Hurdle.  Derpa... Derp....
I'm Clint Hurdle. Derpa... Derp....
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

We should all do our best and learn about other teams, especially the teams in our division. Since we need to be smarty pantses, today, I'll be telling you a little somethin' somethin' about the Pittsburgh Pirates. The one thing that is nice about the Reds being a good team is that we have good reasons not to like other teams. Before, I disliked teams because I was jealous of their success. I didn't like the Cubs because they were the Cubs. I didn't like the Braves because of TBS. I didn't like the Yankees because they can go pound sand.

The Reds are awesome, which means we have another reason to hate teams. It is because we are fighting them for playoff spots. In prior seasons, the dislike was aimed more towards the Cardinals. Tony LaRussa, Chris Carpenter, and The ToiletTM have given us plenty of reasons to dislike them. After a few years of toiling with mediocrity, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally became a team to reckon with. There are finally reasons for me to dislike them! We could talk until we're blue in the face about Chapman throwing high and tight, the Pirates beaning Phillips, and TO.THE.CHIN. It all ended with that miserable season ending series and wild card game. Ok, I don't like the Pirates because they ruined my 2013 season. Sob. I need to quit thinking about it. It's actually nice to have another team in the mix to make the game more exciting. Here are how the Pirates are looking for 2014, what we can come to expect, and what it means for the Reds.

Key Additions

Edinson Volquez SP

Chris Stewart C

Key Departures

Marlon Byrd (OF)

Justin Morneau (1B)

A.J. Burnett (RHP)

Garrett Jones (1B)

James McDonald (SP)

When it comes to what the Pirates did in the 2014 offseason, you can't say they did a whole lot. They lost players that had a large impact on their 2013 success in Burnett and Jones. Byrd also played a big part in getting them to the playoffs, and keeping Morneau around wouldn't have been an awful idea. Losing McDonald is a non-issue. They replaced these players with only Volquez and Stewart. We know all we need to know about Volquez. He is going to strike out a ton of guys and walk a ton of guys. He could be a serviceable fifth starter. I really don't know anything about Stewart except that he played for the Yankees, and I've hard he isn't very good. He is out for 4-6 weeks because of knee surgery, which could mean Tony Sanchez will be seeing some playing time.

Projected Lineup

1. Starling Marte (LF)

2. Jordy Mercer (SS)

3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)

4. Pedro Alvarez (3B)

5. Neil Walker (2B)

6. Russel Martin (C)

7. Gaby Sanchez (1B)

8. Jose Tabata (RF)

The lineup looks stable, or at least as stable as the Reds. It should produce runs, especially if Marte can play as he did last year. I'd flip flop Walker and Mercer in the lineup, but that's just because I'm a sucker for talented switch hitters in the number two spot. I've always really liked Walker. However, that would make the bottom of their lineup one of the worst in baseball. The two glaring holes are in 1B and RF. Losing Byrd and Morneau could hurt a ton, because Sanchez and Tabata are apt to under perform. They just don't have anyone else to plug in there. It always helps to have McCutchen because he's pretty awesome. Alvarez has scary power but could strike out 300 times.

Projected Rotation

1. Francisco Liriano (LHP)

2. Gerrit Cole (RHP)

3. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP)

4. Charlie Morton (RHP)

5. Edinson Volquez (RHP)

Projected Bullpen

CL: Jason Grilli

SU: Mark Melancon

MR: Justin Wilson

MR: Tony Watson

MR: Stolmy Pimentel

MR: Vin Mazarro

LR: Jeanmar Gomez

The Pirates relied heavily on their pitching in 2013, and they'll probably have to again. Their bullpen was their savior and no one really saw it coming. The most known names from the pen are Grilli and Meloncon. They were lights out last year. I don't really know much else about the rest of their bullpen, and I was kind of guessing on some of the guys in the back end. I'd say there bullpen will be average to above average, but I don't see it being as good as last year. i mean, it can't be, right?

The rotation is where I feel they will be boom or bust. They have some holes in batting lineup, but they have established major league hitters they can rely on. The same can't quite be aid about the rotation. The rotation has talent, but can it all come together? Liriano was amazing last year, but he is always a health concern. Gerrit Cole was topping prospect charts in 2013, and pitched very well last year. However, you always need to be cautious about young pitchers. Wandy Rodriguez has always been good (he makes Jay Bruce look like he's never played baseball before), but he is getting to the latter portion of his career and only pitched 62 innings in 2013. With Charlie Morton and Edinson Volquez, I don't really know what to think. Will they be able to stay on the field? Can they pitch up to their talent? The Pirates are really relying on things to fall their way, again. Maybe Volquez will have some kind of career resurgence like Liriano. They have uber prospect Jameson Taillon who is on the outside looking in. He made it to AAA last year, but he's had elbow soreness in spring training.

‘Dem Prospects (Based on John Sickels' ratings because he's da

1. Gregory Polanco (OF) - A-

2. Jameson Taillon (RHP) - B+

3. Tyler Glasnow (RHP) - B+

4. Austin Meadows (OF) - B+

5. Nick Kingham (RHP) - B

6. Josh Bell (OF) - B

7. Alen Hanson (SS) - B

8. Luis Heredia (RHP) - B

9. Reese McGuire (C) - B

10. Harold Ramirez (OF) - B-

I'm not going to get much into the analysis of their farm system. What you need to know is that it's deep and has some really good high-end talent. If you want to learn more turn to Sickels.

Player to Watch

Starling Marte - Marte had one of the best seasons in 2013 by an outfielder putting up 5.2 bWAR. Marte has always been a prospect with amazing tools, but he doesn't like taking a walk. He only had 25 BB's last year, but his OBP was inflated by 24 HBP's. That's a lot, and I still don't believe being hit a pitch is a talent. If he struggles this year, it would be a huge problem for the Pirates. His K/BB ratio is very worrisome.

Why should we care?

The Pirates aren't much different than the Reds were a few years ago. They are a small market team, have a deep farm system, and rely heavily on their pitching and a few star players. The Pirates 2014 offseason looked a lot like the Reds 2011 offseason. They didn't bring in anything new to help the club and will try to look for sustained success from previous players. I think they seem very similar to the Reds a few years ago, and it interest me to see how it all turns out. We know how 2011 turned out for the Reds.

Why you'll hate them

The Pirates led the league in hit batsmen last year. They had a problem with Chapman hitting McCutcheon, but didn't care that their pitchers were leading the league. That kind of stuff gets old. Also, the Pirates being good will mean a lot of douche bag Steelers fans will be filling the stadium. I doubt Dallas Latos will go to another game in PNC Park. There are just too many towel waving, turd munching, Steelers fans roaming around.

I apologize if I offended any Reds fans that are also Steeler fans. Wait... no I don't.