#115: Nibbling Spring Training Numbers
The Pittsburgh Pirates are 8-4 in Spring Training, 9-4 if you count the game versus the Netherlands (which I do not).
They only had 13 wins in Spring Training 2008, 12 in '07, 15 in both '06 and '05, and 11 in '04. So, on pace to win 16 or more seems like it could be a promising thing.
There are a few people I've talked to who are kind of exciting about this season, completely buying into this, "Pirates are going to be the next Tampa Bay in a year or two" hype that the front office is trying to dish out to folks.
I am unconvinced.
They need a couple more productive drafts (and the jury's still out on this one), and there need to be a couple of previously-unnoticed players who elevate their games.
I was looking at the box scores of the games played heretofore (through the 15-14 loss to Boston).
Through the 12 games, guess how many total first-inning runs the Buccos have scored.
The answer: none.
If you count the game against the Netherlands (which I do not), they've scored two.
The first three innings are usually the Pirates projected starters versus those from the opposition (it's not always the case...at least not as certain as it is in football's preseason).
The Pirates have been outscored 27-11 (by my unofficial count) in the first three innings.
After five innings, that total closes a bit to 40-33, still in favor of the opposition - and by then, the starting pitchers have left the game and subs have already started coming in.
Starting from the sixth inning, however, the Pirates have whalloped their opponents 41-17.
The best-case scenario you can draw from the above numbers is that the Pirate minor leaguers might actually be coming on to a point where they will serve notice sooner rather than later as they develop. After all, they've been doing well against, essentially, the farm club players from other organizations.
The worst-case scenario is that some of these players who are shining in the extra innings are going to find themselves on the bench with the mothership, riding bench, and finding they're overmatched by the "pros" when they get the call.
The likely-case scenario is that the Pirates will at least recognize when those contributing players' work was done and send them down anyway, but will bring them up before year's end.
Do not get excited.
My early prediction, despite much "you're being to harsh" from members of the real and internet communities, is that the Pirates will go 59-103 this year.
I'll be more interested in the draft, and seeing how many people forget in a couple years that we should be approaching the realization of (yet another) five-year rebuilding plan, not preparing to start another one.
In the meantime, no one should be buying tickets to PNC Park or otherwise putting money in the ownership's pocket until a winner begins to emerge (that's pretty much the moral of any Pirates post on this blog until further notice).