Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring Training lacks optimism this season

By Jeff

It hurts my heart to see all of these posts on Facebook about people getting excited from Spring Training and the coming of the major league baseball season.

I used to be one of those happy individuals. Well, I never posted my giddiness on Facebook, but I used to come into every spring with a naive optimism regarding the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Is it worse that I thought Perez would be an ace,
or that the Mets traded for him?

That optimism usually revolved around a few young players that brought legitimate excitement to the team. For a stretch, I was pumped about the core of Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, Ryan Doumit and Freddy Sanchez. Hell, I was even excited about seeing if the starting rotation could pull it together at the same time. There were actually times where I looked at Zach Duke, Oliver Perez, Paul Maholm and Brad Lincoln and expected good things from them.

Well, those times are over.

What is there for a Pirates fans to look forward this season? It will be nice to see Andrew McCutchen continue to improve, Jose Tabata put together a full season and Pedro Alvarez hit the ball really hard when he's not missing horribly, but there are no expectations for this team. There is not one pitcher that makes you think this could be the year the team doesn't suck, let alone five of them.

Spring Training is also a chance to see a team's future players' potential. Too bad all of the Pirates top prospects are really far away. Once Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie have time to develop, they will be Spring Training attractions. Right now, it's just too early to get into it.

I envy those people who love baseball enough that they are just excited for the season. I enjoy attending the games, but I just can't bring myself to admit that I'm looking forward to having baseball again. Talk to me in a year or two, when the Pirates actually have a shot to do something, and maybe my mindset will be different.

Lustra - Scotty Doesn't Know


  1. Is it wrong that I now enjoy seeing Pirates fans that have common sense about the team's potential? I think this is a good indicator of how much you like a sport though. I am pumped for baseball. The Pirates have never given me anything to be excited for, so in my mind their success would just be a bonus.

    James McDonald baby!!!

    Go Bucs.

  2. I guess I'm not allowed to be optimistic/excited then? Especially as it looks like Greg will hate me now after reading his comment.

    Considering how this organization was in worse shape than an expansion team when Littlefield was fired, I'm looking forward to the season. Slim Mac could be a pretty good #3 with a ceiling of a #2, even more so if he learn how to not collapse after about 5 innings. Ohlie will be serviceable if he's healthy and now that he won't have Russell keeping him out there too long. You'll all think I'm crazy but Chaz Morton's peripheral stats indicate he really could make it in the league, and I expect him to win the #5 starter job.

    Bullpen should be interesting with Meek probably as the 8th inning guy, and Hanrahan closing. Resop is looking more and more like a great waiver pickup. Jose Veras could get his stuff back together and we could flip him at the deadline.

    You'd have to think at least 1 of Cutch, Alvarez, and Tabata could be outstanding, with me betting on Cutch. Pedro should be 1 year better at the plate, especially if he learns any plate discipline (this will probably be my next sabermetric post if I get some time). Tabata supposedly put on 15+ pounds of pure muscle on, so that's intriguing. And Walker had a full offseason to improve his glove to see if he can upgrade his defense/range to servicable.

    See? I just rattled all that off. W-L wise, the only thing that would be realistic if they could break the 70 win plateau, sure. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to be excited about on the field. When Bay and co. were around, everyone knew that group had to do it because there were absolutely zero reinforcements. We'll probably see Rudy Owens pitch mid summer, Tony Sanchez next year,and then a buttload of prospects will be ready by 2013 (possibly even Tallion if they start him out in WV like they're saying for this year)

    If that doesn't get you somewhat interested, I give up.

  3. Wow that was absurdly long. I'll go ahead and apologize now for that.

  4. Zanic, optimism about the Pirates is allowed...i'm just kind of sick of it. I don't care how emo that sounds, the Pirates have drawn the last bit of hope out of me. I really think a 63 win season would be a success for this team.

  5. I'm all for optimism. I just don't have any this year. I'll get excited for 2013 when it gets here. Of course, I'm also terrified that the prospects won't pan out.

    There was a feature on ESPN earlier this month talking about how Tim Alderson was this phenom in high school with a 93-mph fastball. He came to the Pirates and lost all of his talent, his fastball dropped to 87 and his high school coach bluntly told him he was a better pitcher when he was a 15-year-old freshman.

    It would be devastating if that happened to Taillon and Alie.

  6. That was an interesting article, but it bothered me a little they completely ignored that his fastball had already dropped below 90 when he was still with the Giants. If he were still throwing 93, there's no way we would've been able to get him with just Freddy straight up. His pitching style is kinda awkward/lanky and he never learned how to throw from a windup until he was drafted; he only pitched from the stretch.

    If they wanted to be complete about the Pirates altering pitchers, they could've added how Rudy Owens gained about 3 MPH on his fastball suddenly sometime in June/July (can't remember when it was).

  7. Touche. Of course, they could have also brought up how past first overall picks like Kris Benson and Bryan Bullington sucked horribly, how Oliver Perez went from really good to really bad and how Brad Lincoln could be following suit.

    The story was more about Alderson and the different theories to developing pitchers than it was about the Pirates altering his pitching. I think that's why they didn't mention the other failures and successes.

  8. Good point and I do agree with you that he was a good example to critique the 30-60-90-120 toss program most teams use. I think the only thing that got me going with this is that is something that would be posted on Smizik's blog so people could rant about how much the Pirates ruin everything they touch.

  9. By "this" I meant the original article, not your blog post. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

  10. I agree. I hate those. I was just saying that this year's team doesn't get me excited for baseball. I like what we have going on for the future, but I am protecting myself from getting too excited because of the way things have gone.

    In Smizik's defense, he said this year's team would be better than last year's. That doesn't make up for his 30 posts during the season pointing out that the team is bad and giving up on the current season. It's like he just copies and pastes old posts and changes the dates.