Struggling Pirates' Search For Treasure Continues 

Struggling Pirates' Search For Treasure Continues

Matthew Adamski for SBS

The Pirates have a long history filled with memorable moments and extraordinary events. They have won 5 World Series championships, 9 league titles, and 9 division titles throughout their history. The Pirates have retired the numbers of eight players including Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, Pie Traynor, Roberto Clemente, Honus Wagner, and Danny Murtaugh.

Despite the franchise's winning past, they have not made the playoffs since 1992 when they won the NL East. The last time they won the World Series was in 1979. The fans would like nothing more than to see their team return to the postseason and compete for another championship.

However, the fans will have to wait another year and potentially more for a similar scenario to occur as the Pirates will miss the playoffs once again this year. They are eight and half games back from the Saint Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros in the NL East and have a record of 62-72 with less than 30 games left in the season.

There are several reasons why they have struggled to win this year.

The Pirates have not had much luck with injuries. Eight players have been on their disabled list at some point during the season including Salomon Torres, Kris Benson, Brandon Lyon, Randall Simon, Matt Stairs, Pokey Reese, Josh Fogg, and Brian Giles.

The club currently has four players on their injury list including second baseman Pokey Reese, starting pitcher Kris Benson, catcher J.R. House, and shortstop Pat Meares.
Pitcher Salomon Torres was taken off the disabled list on August 28 and started Friday night against the Braves. He had been on the list since August 8 due to a strained right hamstring.

All of these injuries have forced the club to recall 10 players from the minor leagues including pitcher Ryan Vogelsong and outfielders J.J. Davis and Rob Mackowiak. They also have made some trades in an effort to cut costs and field a competitive team in spite of losing key players to injury.

Recently they traded leftfielder Brian Giles to San Diego for left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez, outfielder Jason Bay and a player to be named. In nearly five full seasons with the Pirates, Giles had a .300 batting average. Bay is expected to replace Giles in left field and Perez made his Pirates debut at home against the Braves on Saturday.

No team can win many games when their starting pitchers are unable to pitch complete games, suffer from injuries, and allow too many runs, walks, and hits.

Pirates' pitchers have allowed a total of 1244 hits, 148 home runs, 270 extra base hits and 415 walks in 1175 innings. They have only 5 complete games and 9 shutouts, allowed an average of 4.61 earned runs per game and pitched an average of 5.9 innings per start. The 651 runs they have give up is more than the 617 runs that the offense has scored.

The Pirates would be wise to add players to their lineup who can consistently hit home runs, drive in runs, and get runners in scoring position. They have not gotten enough production from their hitters as evidenced by their 137 home runs, 580 RBIs, 1200 hits, 266 extra base hits, and .266 batting average. Reggie Sanders is the only player on their roster with more than 20 home runs and 70 RBIs.

The Pirates also have not stolen many bases or sacrificed many runners. They have only stolen 61 bases and sacrificed 99 runners as a team. Reggie Sanders leads the club with nine stolen bases and Jack Wilson leads with 14 sacrifices.

The Pirates need to get more players who can steal bases and sacrifice runners. A team that is able to move runners over successfully has a better chance to score runs.
The Pirates have a number of promising young players on their team such as Josh Fogg, Jack Wilson, Kip Wells, Nelson Figueroa, Jason Kendall, Jason Bay, and Tike Redman.

Josh Fogg pitched 7 2/3 innings without allowing a run and shortstop Jack Wilson had four RBIs tying his career high and extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a bases-loaded triple off Florida left-handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis in a 5-0 win over the Marlins on August 21.

Kip Wells and Nelson Figueroa are the only 2 pitchers on the team with an ERA under four. Wells leads the team in strikeouts with 119 and innings pitched with 155.1 while Figueroa has made only 3 starts and pitched 16 innings.
Jason Kendall, Jason Bay, and Tike Redman have batting averages above .300.

The Pirates also have some veterans on their team that can help the younger players learn and develop including Reggie Sanders and Matt Stairs.

In order for the Pirates to return to the postseason in the next year or two, they will need to score more runs than they allow. Team management must sign some veteran free agent pitchers and other position players either through free agency or trades to ensure that this happens. They must continue to develop promising prospects and the players on their roster must stay healthy as well.

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Comment Create

Sun Oct 16, 2005 2:12 am MST by Lakers Tickets

Comment Didn't the SF Giants acquire Jason Schmidt for Armando Rios? I remember Rios had a season ending injury the first or second game he played for the Pirates. Was that purely a financial move by the Pirates or did they see real promise in Rios?

Sat Sep 6, 2003 12:39 am MST by Hodaka

Comment A nicely researched column. Zen

Wed Sep 3, 2003 12:57 am MST by Zennie

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