Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pirates at the halfway mark: Where do we go from here?

Even though more than half the games have already been played, the symbolic start of the second half of the season begins tomorrow in Houson. And at four games over .500 and just a game out of first, they enter the second half in very unfamiliar territory.

Take a look at some of the remarkable accomplishments of this team thus far:

  • Since a six game losing streak left them at 18-23 at the 1/4 mark of they season, they have gone 29-20.
  • Despite being the all-time worst interleague team, they wrapped up the interleague slate with a winning record of 8-7
  • Have not lost a series since being swept in Cleveland in June and just two since being swept in Milwaukee the second week of May.
  • Are just 10 wins short of last year's total of 57
  • Have already won 10 games more on the road than all of last year
  • Are winning while regularly starting rookies Chase d'Arnaud, Josh Harrison, Alex Presley and, of course, Mike McKenry, the current starting catcher and seventh catcher of the year, who started the season at AAA Pawtucket in the Red Sox system.
  • Have survived injuries to Pedro Alvarez, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Ross Ohlendorf, Ronnie Cedeno, Jose Tabata.

The strength of the team has undoubtedly been the starting pitching. No matter who has been on the mound, the Pirates just continue to get solid performances day-in, day out. And, the one guy who wasn't even in the rotation at the beginning of the season, Jeff Karstens, made a good case for NL pitcher of the month in June at 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA and 0.82 WHIP.

All of this begs the question, where does the team go from here? Dare we say, the Pirates could be buyers at the trade deadline? The one thing this team really needs is a power bat. Two names that have been floated most prominently as trade targets are the Cubs' Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez. Another possibility is Carlos Beltran of the Mets, who are currently dumping salary. I also even saw Hunter Pence's name floated, which would be a remarkable acquisition for the Pirates, but one that I just can't fathom actually happening.

On the other hand, Doumit, Pedro, Cedeno and Tabata all should be back soon, and maybe we still have yet to see the best from Overbay, Diaz and Jones. If the pitching continues their torrid pace, maybe the offense finds more life organically.

Whatever happens from here, this season has already been a success. If they can keep this up and be a factor through the end of the season, my head just might explode.

So, what do you see happening in the second half of the Pirates' 2011 baseball season.


  1. My prediction is that the Pirates do make a move, though for someone not as good as the names I floated above. The real offensive surge comes from Doumit and Alvarez. In the end, we don't make the playoffs, but do break the 18-year losing streak by winning somewhere around 84 games.

  2. Did anyone else notice that the Pirates finish the season in Milwaukee? I checked and tickets are still available and I found round trip flights on Orbitz for $137. If the Pirates and Milwaukee are fighting it out come late August, i might be interested in making a road trip to cheer the Buccos on to the playoffs. Afterall, we're going to have home field advantage in the World Series thanks to last nights All-Star game result.

  3. R Korn said...

    That would be quite a story, lets hope they keep it up. I will be in LA in Sept and will see at least one Pirate/Dodger game, that will be pretty exciting if there is still a playoff race.

    I would love to see ARam back as a Pirate but what would happen to Alvarez? Too bad one can't move to 1B.

    I can live with Cedeno's low avg at SS especially after seeing d'Arnaud commit 5 errors already. When healthy Doumit is one of the best hitting catchers in baseball so that will really help. I would like to see Presley keep playing, but then you have to do something with Jones/Diaz/Overbay/Pierce.

  4. Let's Go Bucs! I am purposefully watching them this year instead of playing PS3.

  5. Getting Pence would be great but the price would be steep, and I don't think the Pirates will pay it. If he could play 1B, bringing Ramirez back would be ideal but I think a lot of teams will be looking at him.

    Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero is available, they want pitching and the Pirates have plenty of arms. Maybe move Doumit to 1B when he comes off the DL. The Royals are listening to offers for Melky Cabrera but not actively shopping him. Pena would be a decent rental if the price was right.

    I would go after Ramirez, Cabrera or Montero. Building your team with young talent is always better than over the hill guys like Pena. The Pirates don't need another Derek Bell.

  6. First of all, I have to say that I am so happy to finally see a baseball team winning this late into the season (Even though it's not that late haha).

    The one player I do not want is Pena. I have heard from sports shows and espn that he basically cannot hit lefties. Since I don't want him, I can pretty much guarantee the Buccos will bring him here.

    While I do like watching the young players, and don't really think any move will put this team anywhere close to the World Series -- doesn't Pirates ownership owe it to the fans to make a move near the deadline if the Pirates are in contention? I mean, after all of those losing years, where fans continued to suffer through seasons -- doesn't ownership have to show that in one season where they are winning that they will invest in the team to make it as good as possible? Not in a spending competition with large cities, obviously, but at least some strong form of attempt?