The Times West Virginian


February 2, 2013

COLUMN: Pirates looking beyond .500 in 2013

Making moves in the right direction.

During the off-season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are making moves in hopes to repair the disappointing end of the 2012 season.

Yes, I say disappointing, even though the Pirates finished with a 79-83 record. They had the biggest slide in the history of Major League Baseball history.

Following a 16-36 finish, the Pirates fell four games below .500, while capping their 20th consecutive losing streak.

“It was a tough finish to the season,” Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington said during a press conference last week. “We did some very good things for a four-month period of time — then we struggled a little bit in August and everything started unraveling on us.”

Huntington continued, “During this offseason, we evaluated why it happened and how it happened and most importantly, how we can prevent it from happening again.”

One major signee for the Pirates is Russell Martin — a 6-year veteran and gun-slinger from the catcher’s position.

Last year, the combination of Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry frustrated Pirates’ fans — especially when Barajas couldn’t even hit his own weight (.206) and he only threw out 6 of 93 runners who attempted to swap a bag.

As for the “Fort,” he threw 13 out of 63 runners who attempted to steal.

With the signing of Wilson and the release of Barajas, the Pirates hope to have a stronger catching tandem.

“We felt that Russell Martin gave us a big impact for the dollars in our organization,” Huntington said. “I think he gives us a chance to improve. We’ve talked a long time with having a guy split time with Michael McKenry, while using co-catchers. I’m happy with having one guy catch 100 games and the other catching 60 games. Or, we may split it at 81 apiece.”

Adding to the Wilson free agent pick up, they also signed left-handed pitcher, Francisco Liriano.

The 29-year-old was at times really bad for the Chicago White Sox last season, while accumulating a 5.31 ERA; however, Huntington feels that Liriano could potentially be another A.J. Burnett.

“The growth that we had a year ago and to add to the growth of the players internally allows us to work on our younger players’ time frames,” Huntington said. “It allows us to not rush them, and rushing a player to the big leagues is one of the worst things you can do for a player.”

Just three days ago, Neil Walker and pitcher James McDonald both agreed to one-year contract extensions — Walker gets $3.3 million and McDonald $3,025,000.

Not only do the the Pirates have a full-stacked veteran team with experience, they also have a top-five farm league system.

“We take pride in the development our organization as a whole,” Huntington said. “To have four of the top 45 prospects in baseball, and six of the top 100, it allows us to be noticed as one of the top five farm systems in baseball. We have a lot of impact guys — we’ve gone from a team who has had the worst record in baseball in September of 2010, to a team who had won a few more games, would have been in the playoffs in September of 2012.”

Those players whom Huntington is referring to are right-handed pitchers Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Luis Heredia; shortstop, Alen Hanson; and outfielder, Gregory Polanco.

The 2013 regular season projected lineup consist of:

1 Starling Marte, LF    

2 Neil Walker, 2B

3 Andrew McCutchen, CF

4 Garrett Jones, 1B

5 Pedro Alvarez, 3B    

6 Russell Martin, Catcher    

7 Travis Snider, RF    

8 Clint Barmes, SS

As for their pitching staff:

1 A.J. Burnett

2 Wandy Rodriguez

3 James McDonald

4 Francisco Liriano

5 Jeff Karstens

“Stay with us — We’re closer than we’ve ever been and we were tied for one of the highest win totals in 20 years,” Huntington said. “We have a group of young players who are hungry, and we have veteran players who are hungry to lead.”

Huntington continued, “The 81-win marker is something that we aren’t pursuing. We’re pursuing playing in the playoffs in October and being the last team to win a baseball game in October. That’s why we’re here.”

Pitchers and catchers report to camp in Bradenton, Fla., on Feb. 11. The first pitch of the 2013 season is set for April 1, at home against the Cubs beginning at 1:35 p.m.

Email Jarrod Harris at jhar­ or follow him on Twitter @JarrodHarrisTWV.

Text Only
  • Pirates’ gaffe on bases proves costly

    Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
    Too bad for Hurdle, what we watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.
    A timely, heads-up glance by reliever Jean Machi helped San Francisco take advantage of a gaffe on the bases by Pittsburgh, and the Giants tagged out of two runners who wandered away on the same play grab momentum and end a six-game losing streak.

    July 31, 2014

  • Harrison’s 4 hits leads Pirates past Rockies, 7-5

    Josh Harrison had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5 on Sunday.

    July 27, 2014

  • Pirates fall victim to Rockies, 8-1

    Nolan Arenado bounced back from a benching with three hits, including a home run, and the Colorado Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on Saturday night.
    Tyler Matzek pitched three-hit ball over seven scoreless innings. Drew Stubbs and Corey Dickerson also homered for the Rockies, who have won three straight.

    July 27, 2014

  • Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers, 6-1

    Josh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
    Harrison’s two-run double down the left field line capped a four-run outburst in the first against Haren (8-8).

    July 24, 2014

  • Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers, 6-1

    osh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

    July 23, 2014

  • Pirates beat Rockies 5-3 for 3-game sweep

    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pittsbugh Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Colorado Rockies 5-3 Sunday for a three-game sweep.

    July 20, 2014

  • Pirates rally by Rockies in 11

    Jordy Mercer doubled home Neil Walker with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
    Walker led off the inning with a single against Colorado’s Chad Bettis (0-2), moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored one batter later when Mercer hit a drive deep into the gap in left-center.

    July 20, 2014

  • Pirates rally late, top Rockies, 4-2

    Travis Snider’s pinch-hit double in the eighth scored Neil Walker to spark the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
    Walker trotted home when Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t track down Snider’s sinking line drive off reliever Matt Belisle (2-5). All-Star Josh Harrison added a sacrifice fly one batter later.

    July 19, 2014

  • Resilient Pirates looking for post All-Star surge

    The Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in an average, every day — if still heated — pennant race.

    July 18, 2014

  • Jeter, Trout lead AL over NL 5-3 in All-Star game

    Derek Jeter soaked in the adulation from fans and players during one more night on baseball’s national stage, set the tone for the American League with a pregame speech and then delivered two final All-Star hits.
    Mike Trout, perhaps the top candidate to succeed the 40-year-old Yankees captain as the face of the game, seemed ready to assume the role with a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double that earned him MVP honors.

    July 16, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads