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.