I want to believe the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to contend in 2013, the Pirates want you to believe they will contend this season. Have faith that these players will give it their all out on the field and understand that this team is certainly improved over the 2012 edition. But if you believe the words of Bob Nutting, you are setting yourself up for most likely a disaster and if nothing else, most certainly a letdown.
“We’re in a position now we’ve got to make a run, we’ve got to push the chips in early in the season.”
“The level of expectation has been and needs to be that we’re going to win a championship,” he said. “We’re going to be playing exciting games throughout the summer as we did last year. We’re going to play meaningful games in September. We’re going to compete for a championship and put ourselves in position for a sixth World Series in Pittsburgh.”- Pirates Owner, Bob Nutting
As the Pirates are constructed heading into the 2013 season, they are not remotely close to competing for a championship. The lineup looks to be improved, with years of experience building for players such as Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen.
No matter how many runs you score, the name of the game is still pitching and the Pirates do not have more than two reliable starters let alone championship-caliber pitching.
Those quotes are from Pirates owner Bob Nutting, who seems to be quite optimistic and potentially delusional heading into the 2013 season. If Bob Nutting knows anything about baseball, (which we still aren’t sure if he does), he should now know that those statements made earlier in the winter, should look downright ignorant at this point.
With a rotation that has more holes than the Swiss cheese served at Manny Sanguillen’s BBQ stand at PNC Park, that first statement about “pushing the chips early” were merely just words. Words that mean nothing and a phrase that will attempt to raise false hopes for the faithful Pirates fan base.
The Pirates will open the season with A.J. Burnett taking the mound on Monday and Wandy Rodriguez to follow him up on Wednesday. Those are two legitimate major league quality arms, the type the Pirates can win consistently with. But after A.J. and Wandy, it is ignorant to suggest the next three (or four or five) pitchers in line to start will lead this team to contention or “push the chips” early.
James McDonald- Which JMac will show up in 2013? The pre all-star break (9-2, 2.37 ERA) or the post all-star break (3-5, 7.52 ERA).
Jonathan Sanchez- Sanchez has not been good since 2010, when he posted a 13-9 record with a 3.07 ERA. Last season Sanchez went 1-9 with a 8.07 ERA.
Jeff Locke- Locke, 25, has made 10 career starts and has a 5.82 career ERA. Locke has shown nothing to suggest he is ready to take a spot in the major league rotation.
Jeff Karstens-After an injury-riddled season in 2012, the Pirates brought back Karstens as a swingman out of the bullpen, but to no surprise here, Karstens is injured to start the 2013 campaign.
Francisco Liriano- After signing his deal with the Pirates, it was found out that Liriano wont be able to pitch for a couple months into the season. Liriano has not had a quality season since 2010 when he posted a 3.62 ERA. Over the past two seasons, Liriano is 15-22 with an ERA in the mid 5.00 range.
The Pirates have plenty of options when healthy to fill out their rotation, but none of which are reliable options, let alone championship-caliber options.
If Bob Nutting and the Pirates truly wanted to put the pedal to the metal or hop in the fast-lane or use some other catchphrase to get fans excited, management would have went out and got another quality starter in the offseason. Management would have shown more urgency and desperation than going out and signing Francisco Liriano, Jonathan Sanchez and trading for Jeanmar Gomez.
Kyle Lohse remained unsigned until days ago until he signed with the Brewers for a three year, $33 million contract. Chris Capuano still seems available from the Dodgers considering their depth in the rotation. Oh and we cannot fail to mention that phenom Gerrit Cole will be starting the season in AAA Indianapolis.
Lohse would not have come cheap, but reliable pitchers are a hot commodity and in order to have one under control for years it will cost a team. Instead of taking a flier on Francisco Liriano and potentially paying $12.75 million for a player that might help them, the Pirates could have opened up their wallet and spent money on a consistent pitcher that would stabilize a rotation.
If the Pirates went out and attained one of either Capuano or Lohse and decided to start Cole in the Major League rotation, that would have been pushing the chips early. That would have shown a sense of urgency and commitment to winning. That would have been a series of decisions that would give the Pirates faithful a real reason to believe.
A rotation featuring A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, Kyle Lohse, Gerrit Cole and James McDonald is much more formidable than what the Pirates are about to run out on the field.
But alas, the Pirates have decided that rolling the dice with JMac, Sanchez and Locke is the way to make an ‘early season push’.
At a time in Pittsburgh sports, where fans have seen the Pittsburgh Penguines ownership group do everything in their power to win, these same fans have seen the polar opposite with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This is not to say that these 2013 Pirates will not be improved, because I firmly think the Pirates are a better team in 2013, but to make such bold statements and back them up with nothing, really shows exactly why the Pirates have not won in over 20 years at this point. False hope is still running rampant on the North Shore in Pittsburgh.