Cleat Geeks

N.L Central Predictions #2: Pittsburgh Pirates

pirates-2012The Pittsburgh Pirates made big strides in the 2015 season. They did so well that they managed to keep the pressure on the division winning Cardinals all season long and came within an inch of facing them in a tiebreaker game for the division title.

However, they could not win one of the two games they needed.  The Pirates ended up facing the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the wildcard game instead and left the playoffs early when they got shut out. In 2015, the Pirates proved that they have come a long way from the team they were and they will continue to shine in 2016 as well.

The Pirates off-season began when Vance Worley left the team in October after Baltimore claimed him. The team also lost right fielder, Travis Snider and first baseman Travis Ishikawa to free agency. They were able to make a few acquisitions early on to build their team back up. The Pirates received former Oriole right-handed  pitcher Jorge Rondon and they traded pitcher, Richard Mitchell to the Marlins so they could get another right-handed pitcher in Trevor Williams. They spent the rest of October fortifying their minor league rosters by signing pitchers, Joel Cesar, Angel Martinez and Oliver Garcia as well as shortstop Rodolfo Castro.

November saw many huge losses for the Pirates. Several key players including, A.J Burnett, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez, J.A Happ, Antonio Bastardo, Joakim Soria and Joe Blanton all left for free agency and the Pirates had to call up several guys from the minor leagues to fill up the holes. Among those call ups were second baseman, Max Moroff, pitcher, Tyler Glasnow, first baseman, Josh Bell, shortstop Gift Ngoepe and right fielder Harold Ramirez. The Pirates also picked up first baseman, Jake Goebbert, and right-handed pitcher, Guido Knudson. The Pirates also sent spring training invitations to left fielder Danny Ortiz and pitcher, Curtis Partch.

nieseThe Pirates biggest losses came in December when they lost second baseman, Neil Walker to the Mets in a trade for left-handed pitcher Jon Niese and lost another big hitter when Pedro Alvarez left the team to become a free agent.  The Pirates traded Charlie Morton to Philadelphia to get David Whitehead in a pitcher for pitcher trade. They signed another right-handed pitcher, Juan Nicasio as well.

The major gains for the Pirates happened when they re-signed Sean Rodriguez and got Jason Rogers from the Brewers. Jason Rogers had only four homers and 16 RBI’s during his time in Milwaukee. On the other hand Sean Rodriguez had 4 homers and 17 RBI’s last season in Pittsburgh, if these two can improve on those statistics, the Pirates will be tough to stop.AndrewMcCutchen

The emphasis for the Pirates offseason was  on improving their pitching. In the process, they have lost some hitting power. They do not have Aramis Ramirez, Pedro Alvarez or Neil Walker anymore but they do still have great hitters like Andrew McCutchen, Michael Morse and Jung Ho Kang. If they can combine that hitting with all the adjustments they’ve made to pitching, they can give the other teams a serious headache in 2016.

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