The Pittsburgh Pirates have a rich history with five World Series wins and players like Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargel, and Honus Wagner. But since 1992, the Pirates haven't had a winning season. They ended up trading away many players that are now big stars like Aramis Ramirez and before his steroid issue there was Barry Bonds. And even more recently, guys like Jason Bay who is know a star for the Boston Red Sox. Just this year the Pirates traded away All-Star outfielder Nate McLouth, second baseman Freddy Sanchez, first baseman Adam LaRoche, starting pitcher Ian Snell, and shortstop Jack Wilson just to name a few. Is this a process of rebuilding, or just a vicious cycle that will never end?
Now some good young talent did come from those trades, but will the Pirates actually keep them instead of trading them away? Let's take a look into the new Pirates lineup after all the trades and see how they look.
1. #22 Andrew McCutchen, CF
Andrew McCutchen better be a guy that the Pirates keep. He is only 22 years old and is on track for possibly the Rookie of the Year. He has exceptional speed where he can stretch singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He has even shown some power of late having a three-homerun performance last Saturday. When considering his stats, remember that he has only played in 55 games this season. He has 7 homers on the year and a respectable .296 average. He has 15 doubles, 5 triples and 9 stolen bases. He also looks like somewhat of a contact hitter, striking out only 43 times in 55 games. With his speed and hitting ability this guy could become an All-Star some day, and the Pirates have to remember why they got him in the first place...to rebuild.
2. #85 Lastings Milledge, LF
Milledge who was acquired by the Pirates from the Nationals for Nyjer Morgan, is also a young guy like McCutchen who could really make a difference. He is only 24 years old out of Brandenton, Florida which is actually where the Pirates have their spring training facilities. Milledge has a career batting average of .261 but this year only has an average of .226 through 14 games. He has shown signs of a young player trying to adjust to the game, but that can change with good coaching and growing as a player. He has 25 homeruns through 267 games of his career, which isn't too bad for a young guy. With good coaching like I said, he could blossom into a great player.
3. #46 Garret Jones, 1B/RF
Garret Jones is also a newly acquired player by the Pirates just this year. He isn't quite as young as Milledge and McCutchen at the age of 28, but he still has a little room for growing. Although he still does not have near as much potential as the other two. He has emerged this year in the 31 games that he played in. He has played both 1B and RF for the Pirates. His average this year is .287 and 11 homeruns in 31 games which is pretty good. If he had a whole season he probably would have hit 30 homers or more considering he didn't get injured or hit a major slump. This guy could be a big factor next season.
4. #41 Ryan Doumit, C
An injury kept Doumit out of the lineup for most of this season. Doumit is 28 years old like Garret Jones, and both of them probably don't have too much potential left in them, but can still do a little damage. Doumit has only been able to play in 34 games this season but he is healthy as of now. Although he has hit a recent slump. His season has been quite disappointing with only five homers due to his absence, but a slump can also be the blame. Not to mention his ugly .233 average. I can't understand why the Pirates didn't trade him. They trade a guy like Nate McLouth but keep Doumit...doesn't make too much sense.
5. #44 Brandon Moss, RF
Moss has shared playing time with Steve Pearce in right field, but Moss has gotten more time. Moss is 25 years old with a mediocre .248 average on the year. He has five homers and 52 strikeouts in 88 games played. His career average isn't any better than his season average at .249. There may be some potential there but not near as much as McCutchen or Milledge. I don't see him improving much, but who knows. I can see this guy getting traded as he gets older.
6. #48 Delwyn Young, 2B
Young is listed as a right fielder but plays a lot of second base. Young is 27 years old out of LA. He came over in the Jason Bay trade. He has a respectable average of .294 with seven doubles and five homers. Like I said with Moss I don't see him improving too much but maybe a little. With the right coaching he will be able to improve.
7. #15 Andy LaRoche, 3B
Andy LaRoche is the brother of former Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche. Andy is 25 years old with some potential. He has struggled this season with only a .262 avgerage, but that is much better than his lifetime average of .225. It shows that Andy is improving and could get much better. He has 5 homers on the year with 19 doubles and five triples. He has struck 60 times in 104 games.
8. #13 Ronny Cedeno, SS
Cedeno is 26 years old out of Carabobo, Venezuela. He came over in the Jack Wilson and Ian Snell deal with the Mariners. He has played 66 games this season and in those games he has been as cold as can be. he has 39 hits in 213 AB's which isn't good to say the least. That's a .183 average, with a lifetime average of .239. He definitely needs work, and a lot of it. I don't see him turning around any time soon.
I would also like to mention Pirates SS Rmaon Vazquez who shares about the same amount of playing time as Ronny Cedeno. He has also played 66 games this season like Cedeno, but has a little bit better of an average at .235 which is still not good, but better than Cedeno. Vazquez' lifetime average is .255.
Now I want to take a little look at the Pirates pitching staff.
#57 Zach Duke
Zach Duke is the Pirates ace at the age of 26. He has a 9-10 record in 22 starts for the Pirates this season. He has a 3.45 ERA, with three complete games. He has allowed 158 hits and 58 earned runs. He has struck out 76 and walked 37 with a WHIP of 1.25. Not bad for pitching on a team like the Pirates who won't give much run support. He is a very good pitcher that will really help the Pirates win games in the years to come...if the Pirates keep him.
#28 Paul Maholm
27 year old Paul Maholm has a 6-6 record with 22 starts which means almost half of his starts have been no decisions. He has a 4.75 ERA which is a place that needs improvement. But, he has struck out 84 and walked 42 with a WHIP of 1.43. He has allowed 151 hits and 71 earned runs. There is potential here and the Pirates need to utilize it.
#49 Ross Ohlendorf
Ross Ohlendorf celebrates his 27th birthday tomorrow after his start on Wednesday that went quite well and dropped his season ERA to 4.29. He has a winning record of 9-8 in 22 starts for the Pirates. He has whiffed 70 batters with 41 walked. He has 131 hits allowed with 62 earned runs and a WHIP of 1.32. He is also doing decently well for a guy pitching for the Pirates. Look for him to also help the Pirates down the road.
#37 Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton is 26 years old with a lot of potential. He has started 9 games for the Pirates this season with a 2-4 record. He has an ERA 4.03 which he could easily get down below 4 with a good start. He has 30 K's with 16 walks. He has let up 46 hits and 20 earned runs with a WHIP of 1.39. If the Pirates pitching coaches can work with him he could become a decent starter.
#25 Kevin Hart
Hart is 26 years old who also has shown great performance on the mound. Now take into consideration he has only started five games for the Pirates, but even in five games a 2.94 ERA is pretty good. Although he doesn't strikeout many with only 18, and 19 walks, his ERA shows he can still get outs. He has 32 hits allowed on 11 earned runs with a WHIP of 1.51 which is a little high, but shows he gets out of innings before too many runs cross the plate. Like I said throughout this article, coaching is going to be so important for the Pirates when it comes to pitching and hitting. Same goes with Hart here.
So there is my breakdown of the stats and a little about each player of the starting lineup and pitching rotation of the Pirates. I know there are some guys I left out of the starting lineup that get some playing time like Steve Pearce, but the guys I talked about in the starting lineup are the guys that play the most and the guys that will have the biggest impact on how the Pirates shape out to be in the future. There is a lot of potential in that lineup and also some guys that I think won't be able to improve much. But either way, the ownership better not trade away, lets say, McCutchen when he does hit his prime, because then we know that this trading is all just a vicious cycle that will never end until there is new ownership. So lets hope that the management does the right thing and can grow these guys up into a team that will finally get a winning season and maybe even make the playoffs again like the old days.