This is part of a series of posts in which we call out all 30 teams for their wily offseason moves and tragic offseason blunders.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, fans, ownership and players alike, have low expectations for the 2007 season. Who can blame them? The team hasn’t been relevant since Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla wore yellow and black. That was a long, long time ago.
But this year there’s a lot to be excited about in Pittsburgh. The team has an emerging star in LF Jason Bay. And Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield pulled off the steal of the offseason, landing 1B Adam LaRoche for CL Mike Gonzalez.
The Pirates will need a lot to go right in 2007 if they’re going to compete. They’ll need 3B Freddy Sanchez to continue the hot hitting that won him the NL batting title last year. They’ll need LaRoche to show that last season’s second half surge was no fluke. They’ll need CF Chris Duffy to stay healthy and to get on base so that he can drive pitchers crazy with his speed.
Most of all, Pittsburgh will need their starting staff to have some sort of collective breakthrough, because between those five guys, they have a lot of potential, very little experience and even less success.
Still, the Pirates’ core of Bay, Xavier Nady, LaRoche, and Sanchez is a good group. Reason to be optimistic, even.
**Note, one element of the Pirates organization that doesn’t inspire optimism is the team’s new red Sunday jerseys. Pittsburgh drives me crazy enough with the sleeveless jerseys. Now red? Enough already.
Offseason grade: B
Acquisitions: Adam LaRoche
Losses: Mike Gonzalez
Projected line-up, rotation and closer.
CF Chris Duffy .255/.317/.338, 26 SB
SS Jack Wilson .273/.316/.370, 35 RBI
3B Freddy Sanchez .344/.378/.473, 85 RBI
1B Adam LaRoche .285/.354/.561, 32 HR
LF Jason Bay .286/.396/.532, 35 HR
RF Xavier Nady .280/.337/.453, 17 HR
C Ryan Doumit .208/.322/.389, 6 HR
2B Jose Castillo .253/.299/.382, 14 HR
LHP Zach Duke 10-15, 4.47 ERA
RHP Shawn Chacon 7-6, 6.36 ERA
RHP Ian Snell 14-11, 4.74 ERA
LHP Paul Maholm 8-10, 4.76 ERA
LHP Tom Gorzelanny 2-5, 3.79 ERA
CL Soloman Torres, 12 SV, 3.28 ERA
*UPDATE: After this post went up, the Pirates announced they had signed free-agent SP Tony Armas, Jr. In eight major-league seasons, the 28-year-old owns a 48-60 record with a 4.45 ERA in 151 starts with Montreal/Washington. He will probably take Tom Gorzelanny’s spot in the rotation.