NBC’s Hardball Talk recently covered the Pittsburgh Pirates in their latest, “Springtime Storylines”, segment which features all 30 teams and the biggest story surrounding them heading into the 2011 season.
For the Pirates, who finished dead last in 2010, the all-important storyline for them heading into the upcoming season is quite simple, according to Hardball Talk, “Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for the Pirates?”
Yes, the Pirates have improved this offseason and the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t too far off, but their youth will hold them back in 2011. The most likely scenario for the Pirates in 2011 is to compete for a middle-of-the-pack record, finish above the Houston Astros in the NL Central, and give playoff hopeful teams fits at the end of the season.
Until their youth gains more experience AND/OR they bring in more veteran talent and leadership, the Pirates will remain at the bottom of the National League totem pole.
Here’s a quick snippet from Hardball Talk’s story on the Pirates:
For the Pirates to become a winning baseball club again, what they need first is hope. A reason to believe. And we’re not talking about hope as a mindset or even an emotion, we’re talking about real and tangible evidence that good times are on the horizon. Youth, upside, talent, potential and promise — that’s the stuff smaller-market baseball teams must possess in the modern era.
I couldn’t agree more with their assessment of the Pirates. The talent is there, the leadership from Clint Hurdle is there; the only thing missing is confidence and as Hardball Talk put it, “…a reason to believe.”
In my opinion, this is the most important season for Andrew McCutchen. He’s become the ‘face of the franchise’ and has continually boasted All-Star material statistics since joining the league back in 2009 following the trade of Nate McClouth to Atlanta.
The Pirates have high potential players all over the field between Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata. As long as McCutchen continues to play at his highest level, and if the Pirates’ pitching staff can keep the score at a reasonable target, the Pirates could surprise some people in 2011.
But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, it’s just my hope for this team is higher than it has been in recent years.