Thursday, July 12, 2012

Buccos and Superheros

How about those Buccos? I never got around to writing a season preview, but it probably would've been something like this:

Hitting: Hopefully Andrew McCutchen can continue his improvement and have a stronger 2nd half this year. I'm concerned about Neil Walker and hope he doesn't regress. I'm intrigued by Casey McGehee and his power he had in Milwaukee. Hopefully we'll get something out of Alvarez this year, closer to what he did back in 2010. Barajas and Barmes seem like decent pickups and should provide some veteran leadership.

Pitching: Will Charlie Morton continue his 2011 first half success? Will James McDonald get past the 5th inning in his starts? He's got the stuff. I'm interested to see if A.J. Burnett has anything left in the tank and will be a positive for this team. Since he got picked up for relatively little it's a low risk and anything the Pirates get out of him will be good. If Bedard stays healthy, will he contribute? Karstens stuff is unimpressive but he finds a way to pitch effectively (a crafty righty). Can it continue for a whole year.

Fast forward three and a half months and the Pirates' roller coaster season has them 11 games over .500 and in first place (1 game ahead of Cincinnati and 2.5 games ahead of St. Louis).

The success has translated to the ticket office, too. I went on a Monday at 1pm and this is the line I found to buy tickets. Awesome!

The offense was HISTORICALLY inept in April and May yet has been among the best in the entire majors in June and July. Go figure. To compensate, the pitching was off the charts in April and May and has held its own since.

Individually, there's not much you can't say about Andrew McCutcheon. Leading the team in nearly every offensive category and among the leaders in the majors. This has been an MVP type year. Neil Walker has come on and is hitting .291. Pedro Alvarez almost got sent to the minors and now has 16 HR and 50 RBI. Double those totals and that's a legit middle of the order power bat. They need more production out of their table setters (Presley, Tabata, Sutton?) and hopefully the callup of Starling Marte will help with that in the 2nd half. I can't wait to see his defense that I witnessed on several occasions in Altoona.

Pitching, you just hope their arms don't fall off. McDonald has the makings of an ace and now goes deep into games. Burnett had two bad starts all season so far. Karstens is just so efficent and hopefully he keeps it up. Will Bedard rebound? If not, give one of the AAA lefties in Indy (Locke, Owens, Wilson) a shot.

How about that bullpen? The Pirates are undefeated when leading after 8 innings. Hanrahan, Grilli, Lincoln, Hughes, and Watson have been amazing. Cruz and Resop have been up and down. If they falter, there's some good choices in Indy there as well.

Will there be a collapse this year? Hopefully the veteran leadership and experience of last year will help propel them to meaningful August and September (and October?) baseball.

Here's a few shots from our seats at PNC Park from when we went last Friday. One of the best views of a city skyline in the country. 

Naturally, in spite of having the best home record IN THE ENTIRE MAJOR LEAGUE, they managed to lose. Oh well. Just keep winning all the other games I guess.

Performances like that of Andrew McCutchen brings comparisons to superheros. Last summer, Beth and I were joking around how some local runners give phony names for races. Some pick celebrities (Theo Huxtable, Peyton Sawyer). Others make up a name, such as the "Northside Dragon." We presume this is because this runner lives on the North Side of Pittsburgh and perhaps went to Allderdice, whose mascot is the Dragons. So, while brainstorming, we thought what name would be appropriate for someone living in a town with the name Heights as part of it? Also, someone who enjoys racing up hills? Well, our conclusion became "The Heights Hilltopper." Kind of catchy, eh?

Of course, you can't have a superhero without a picture. So, with an evening of no baseball, here's what I came up with tonight.

Hopefully those black and gold superheros keep it up for the 2nd half. Let's Go, Bucs!

1 comment:

Steve said...

That is quite a race in that Division. I saw a game on t.v. a while back, and one of the things I noticed was Pedro Alvarez has the build to play 3B. I was thinking he was going to get big like Miguel Cabrera and have to switch to 1B. The announcers said he was a little more grown up this year, and really working to improve Defensively.

Baseball scouting is two parts I'd have to say. The numbers tell part of the story, but seeing the person up front and in real life helps complete it. The Pirates should hire you as a freelance scout. :)