Tuesday, April 24, 2007

7 Reasons to Keep Watching the Bucs This Season


Since the Pirates now have 7 wins on the season, I give you my 7 Reasons to Stick with the Buccos This Season:

1. Tom Gorzelanny. Wow! I never thought he would be reason number 1. The kid is on pace for 25-30 wins! How could you not get behind a young pitcher with a perfect early-season record? His ERA is a more than respectable 2.05 (Take that, Tony Armas Jr. and your 18.90 ERA), and is second on the team in strikeouts. He might (will) flare out. No pitcher in today's game will win 3 of every 4 starts, but it is nice to have that kind of success early on.

2. Ian Snell. He is reason number 2, because he leads the team with 24 strikeouts through 27 innings pitched. His strikeout per innings ratio is a little lower than Gorzo, but he can flat-out make hitters miss. In a sport where games can turn on one bad pitch, I'm relying on Ian to trust his stuff (I never like when people use that expression. Sounds kinda weird and dirty) and keep making batters whiff.

3. Brad Eldred. Yeah, the Pirates are having trouble making room for Big Country. The management seemed to forget Country when they decided to trade for ADD (.105 avg, .281 slg) Laroche this past offseason. The same thing happened last season when the Bucs brought in "hometown hero" Sean (Left fielders can throw me out at 1st) Casey. Neither 1st base pickup brought any life to the Pirates bats (I'm still hoping Laroche will heat up), and Big Country is still forced to look from the dugout. Even though Eldred is sporting a .117 average, he has only been to the plate 17 times. As the season progresses further, expect the Paul Bunyan-esque Brad to get more playing time while stepping in for guys that are tired/slumping

4. We Play in the National League Central. This argument always frustrated me, but it is the truth. While the NL Central isn't the worst division in the bigs, it isn't necessarily a powerhouse. A 7-10 record is only 4 games behind the Brewers (who have played 2 more games), the only team in the Central with a record over .500. If the Buccos can warm up against Woody Williams and the rest of the Astros staff this week, the team has a legitimate shot at reaching .500 and contending for the division lead.

5. Andrew McCutchen. He's not in the bigs yet, but a mid-to-late season call-up is not entirely out of the picture. Citing 14 years of regular season debacles, there is a high possibility that Andrew could be in a Pirates uniform before the active roster expands from 25 to 40 on September 1st. For a team that once employed Adam Hyzdu, having McCutchen on the roster would definitely be a bonus. The Buccos will still be entertaining to watch as the season rolls down even if this year turns out like the past 14, simply because we might get a chance to see Andy face some major-league pitching.

6. Adam Hyzdu is Not on the Roster. While the offense is still finding its groove and the team sits 3 games below .500, there is no reason to believe that this team can't make a meaningful run. Jason Bay is a 2-time All Star and former Rookie of the Year. Freddy Sanchez is the defending NL Batting Champ and an All Star last season. ADD Laroche put up career-bests last year with a .285 average, 30 home runs, and 90 RBIs. Jose Bautista and Ronny Paulino have the ability to be big-time performers in the future, and Chris Duffy is actually looking like a legit leadoff man who can swipe a ton of bases. The roster is good enough to get this team over .500. Let's just hope the motivation and execution are there as well.

7. Its Only April 23! The season is still young. The Pirates have played only 17 out of 162 games. There's no reason to believe (Other than the past 14 years) that the Buccos will play 7-10 ball from here on out. Alex Rodriguez hit his 14th homer in New York's 18th game overall. He tied the April Home Runs record set by Albert Pujols last year. Did Pujols keep up that pace and hit 125 homers last year? Not a chance. What I'm saying is that the season is long, and this is only April. The Bucs have a long way to go, but I'm expecting a vast improvement over the course of the season (Although I've said this for the past 14 years).


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