Blog Entry

Pirates looking beyond .500

Posted on: July 13, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 5:32 am

By C. Trent Rosecrans

PHOENIX -- The number hounding Pittsburgh baseball since last September is 18.

"Our second baseman Neil Walker wears No. 18 and he's a heck of a player," Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan said. "Is that what you're talking about?"

That response generated laughs, and maybe Hanrahan is so used to the question that he had the stock answer ready. Who wouldn't try to deflect questions about 18 consecutive losing seasons? With a 47-43 record at the All-Star break, Pittsburgh is in position to make sure 19 doesn't become the new standard in U.S. professional sports.

"But really, talking about [Walker], it's fitting, he's from Pittsburgh, born and raised there, and he wears No. 18, maybe there's something there," Hanrahan said. Walker is part of an influx of young talent in Pittsburgh, along with the likes of the flame-throwing Hanrahan and center fielder Andrew McCutchen, 24.

At this week's All-Star Game, the Pirates had three representatives, as Hanrahan and McCutchen were joined by starter Kevin Correia.

"We have more guys that have opportunities to make the team [in the future]," McCutchen said. "Things are changing for us. We're not just here because someone had to represent the team, we're here because we earned the opportunity."

Although McCutchen was a late add to the team, many felt he shouldn't have just been an initial pick, but the National League's starting center fielder. The 24-year-old McCutchen is hitting .291 with 15 homers and 54 RBI and may be the best center fielder in the game.

In fact, it seemed McCutchen got more recognition for not making the team than he did when he finally made it. But that goes to show that even though the fans voting for the All-Star team didn't see fit to pick McCutchen, most observers knew an injustice when they saw it (well, as far as injustices and All-Star games go).

"We had Joel Hanrahan that made the team and he deserved it, but it felt like people were talking and talking and talking about me," McCutchen said. "It was definitely an eye-opener that people felt I should be here."

Many feel he should be back year after year, especially if the Pirates continue to improve, something many expect.

"You can tell there's a different feel over there this year," said the Reds' Jay Bruce. "You have Neil Walker, he's having a great year, Andrew McCutchen is being Andrew McCutchen, he's one of the most exciting players in the game. They're solid, man. They've changed the culture there. The new manager [Clint Hurdle]. They've done a really good job and I don't think they're going anywhere."

Bruce was part of a franchise that had gone nearly a decade without a winning season that stepped up and won its division. That's exactly what the Pirates are hoping to do as they trail the Brewers and Cardinals by just a game in the National League Central. The title is within reach, so there's no reason to just settle for .500.

"It's more for the fans than for us, because that's not our goal. It'd be great for the city, just for them to see that we've done better than we've done for the last 18 years," McCutchen said. "But after that comes and goes, what's next? Nobody's going to be satisfied with that. We're hungry for more, the fans are hungry for more. That's why we don't set our goals to just be over .500. We're hungry to win a championship. If you win a championship, you'll be over .500."

With the Steelers and Penguins having earned titles in recent years, the Pirates would like to turn Western Pennsylvania into the next New England with major titles in several sports.

"We all know the fans are passionate about their sports and knowledgeable about their sports, we said game one, if we start winning, it's going to be like the Steelers' games or the Penguins' games," Hanrahan said. "The fans are there, it's just getting them out of hiding so they aren't embarrassed to come out anymore."

They shouldn't be.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 21, 2011 7:57 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 2:57 am

Pirates looking beyond .500

This is usually innovative,recurrent phenomenon article.Actually prized one and that is definitely discovering the resouces about the region.It is going to surely enable prepare my home.

Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: July 14, 2011 10:33 am

Pirates looking beyond .500

For Pirate fans everywhere we can see the light at the end of the 18 year tunnel.  We are finally buyers and not sellers in July.  The division title would be a nice bonus but finishing above .500 is the main focus.  This team is being built for the long term, finally. 

Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: July 14, 2011 9:05 am

Pirates looking beyond .500

lioness have you gone crazy?

Since: Sep 25, 2008
Posted on: July 14, 2011 8:36 am

Pirates looking beyond .500

The next 10 games will be especially vital for the prognosis of the Pirates 2011 final results.  They have a 3 game home stand with St. Louis (a team that tradionally walks into Pittsburgh and lays the smack down); a 4 game road trip in Atlanta (a team with one of the best records in baseball that has been red-hot as of late); and a 3 game trip to Philly (maybe the best team in baseball).  Considering the top flight pitching they will be facing, this could be a disasterous stretch that would take them below .500 and essentially out of the NL Central race.  If they can manage to win 4 or 5 games out of those 10 I would consider it a lofty achievement and one that would make me believe they are good enough for run at the division title pending some moves.

Which brings me to my next point: what will management do at the close of July?  If the Pirates are still very close in the NL Central will they go out and make some strategic moves to put them in a better position to contend over the final two months?  If they falter in the next 10 games, will they dump some contracts like Maholm, Doumit, etc. and try to further build the young core of prospects they are accumulating?  Will they do whatever it takes to finish over .500 for the season to break the 18 year streak?

At the beginning of the season I thought this team was capable of making a run at .500 but not challenging for the post-season; I thought this would be something to aim for in 2012, but more likely 2013 with guys like Tailon moving up by then.  However, how many times can the Pirates say they are 1 game out of first place after the All-star break?

If I was the Pirates and the end of July comes and I am sitting any more than 3 games out of first, I would have to make the tough choice and make a couple trades to pick up some key parts for the future and not 2011.  That would mean trading potentially Maholm, Doumit, a relief pitcher like Veras, and depending on their value guys like Diaz and Overbay.  It is essential to keep McCutchen, Walker, Alvarez, Tabata, and the core of pitching (Morton, Karstens, Correia, Hanrahan).  I am sure there will be interest especially in Maholm as we approach the end of July from teams looking to reach the post-season especially in the American League for which the Pirates could muster a big-time prospect.

It will be exciting to see the next 10 days unfold.

Since: Jul 13, 2011
Posted on: July 14, 2011 12:50 am
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Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2011 11:31 pm

Pirates looking beyond .500

I love being on the opposite end of the trading deadline this year. They still aren't at full strength yet with Pearce, Doumit, and hopefully soon Alvarez. I'm not picking them to win the division, but they have been doing things we haven't expected all year so who knows. Hopefully they can get some good spot starts out of Brad Lincoln, Ross Ohlendorf, or Justin Wilson.

Since: Jul 13, 2011
Posted on: July 13, 2011 10:32 pm
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Since: Nov 23, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2011 9:20 pm

Pirates looking beyond .500

I'm not sure what the heck happened with my post .  AKA Koolaide drinker

Since: Nov 23, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2011 9:18 pm

Pirates looking beyond .500

I can't help it but I am really  really really drinking the koolaide.........

;     &nbs
p;     &nb
sp;     &n
bsp;  It sure taste refreshing!

Lets go Bucs!

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