Monday, July 6, 2009

The State of the Central: Pittsburgh

The Halfway point of the 2009 season has come and gone and it's time to look around the National League's Central Division. Why do we care about the rest of the division? Simple, we have to play these teams and inter-division matchups will make or break the 2009 Brewers.

So each day this week we'll take a look at the six teams in Baseball's biggest division, here's a peek at the schedule:

7/6 - Pittsburgh Pirates
7/7 - Houston Astros

7/8 - Cincinnati Reds

7/9 - Chicago Cubs

7/10 - St. Louis Cardinals
7/11 - Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates: Give the Pirates credit, they finally seem to have figured out that, as assembled, they were not going to be making any playoff runs. It seems like just about everyone on this roster can be had for the right price and the Pirates have already made a few under the radar moves. The Pirates have already traded away three position players (Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan and Eric Hinske) and one pitcher (Sean Burnett).

The Good: They've dealt starter but they haven't really gotten any worse. Andrew McCutchen(right) has been phenomenal since taking over for McClouth in Center Field, he's hitting .300 with 5 triples and 20 batted in. Zach Duke has regained his form, putting up eight wins with a 3.28 ERA. Starting pitchers Ross Ohlendorf and Paul Maholm have had their moments too, but both hold ERA's over 4.50.

The Bad: The Pirates might be batting .267, good enough for third in the National League, but only one team has less than their 55 home runs. Outside of Duke their pitching has been sub-par, only one Central team has a worse ERA than the Pirates 4.27.

What to expect: The fact is that this is still not a very good team, and since they look like they are finally fully rebuilding rather than just treading water they will likely get worse before the season is over. Adam LaRoche is historically a second half player anyhow (if he doesn't get traded) and Ryan Doumit(left) should be back before long to give the offense a boost. Also the addition of Lasting Milledge could prove to be an outstanding move if he decides to live up to his potential (Not likely).

Outlook: The Crew will see Pittsburgh nine more times, anything less than six wins would be both embarrasing and unacceptable. They will finish in the bottom two of the division.

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