|Fantasy Baseball: 2008 Pittsburgh Pirates|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 19, 2008
The Pirates are a wretched team with only a few players who will go the upper or middle rounds of any draft, but they have youth and a goal of developing their own talent, some of that could erupt suddenly.
Ian Snell (SP):Â If Snell played for a better team heâ€™d be a true top notch pitcher but playing for the Pirates doesnâ€™t exactly boost your win totals and his WHIP isnâ€™t anything to write home about.Â However that is trending in the right direction and expecting Snell to improve on that is a fair bet.Â He might also get some more Wâ€™s this year so rank him no lower than the middle of the second tier.
The Third Tier:
Xavier Nady (1B):Â The 29 year old Nady is coming off a career best season in terms of home runs, RBIs and Slugging percentage.Â Thatâ€™s pretty much his ceiling, but if you need a solid player whoâ€™s been a model of consistency the last three years you could do much worse.Â .275-18-68 with five or fewer steals is realistic.
Jose A. Bautista (3B): If you want a sleeper candidate at the third base position Bautista is your man.Â Â He played a career high 142 games last season and put up decent numbers (.254-15-63-75-6), but heâ€™s moving into his prime and could be a real candidate for a breakthrough season - especially if you look at his minor league numbers.
Ronnie Paulino (C):Â Paulino is decent enough catcher who offers a little pop and the potential for a better average than he had last year.Â Heâ€™s in his prime years so a .290-10-60 would probably be the best you could hope for and a .270-10-50 would probably be more realistic.Â The only question is if he can keep the job - but it seems like itâ€™s his to lose at this point.
Jack Wilson (SS):Â Last yearâ€™s .296-12-56-67-2 is probably as much as you could hope for from Wilson.Â Â In NL only leagues or very deep leagues that leaves him with some value.
Matt Capps (CL):Â Heâ€™s one of the better closers on the roster of any bad team and he should get more chances than he did last year.Â That potential alone makes him one of the better third tier closers.
The Question Marks:
Zach Duke (SP):Â In 2005 the name Zach Duke was at the top of just about Everybodyâ€™s top prospects list.Â Â He was that good during his one month trial and then posted a decent though not blockbuster 2006 season.Â In 2007 he battled injuries and mechanical issues but heâ€™s just 25 and has plenty of time to develop into something more than a tail end of the rotation kind of guy.Â If heâ€™s healthy he could take a step forward but he still wonâ€™t get many wins with the Bucs.
Tom Gorzelanny (SP):Â Tom posted a 3.88 ERA and almost managed to win 15 games last night which means he should be ranked in the middle of the second tier pitchers but his strikeouts per inning fell off from 2006â€™s surge and his WHIP climbed to an ugly 1.40 which could be a cause for concern.Â That being said, unless there is a physical problem - which could be the case, Gorzelanny could improve dramatically.
The Great Debate:
Matt Morris (SP):Â Can Morris be more than an end of the rotation starter?Â The last two seasons have been brutal to Morris who used to be a solid pitcher a couple of years ago.Â But heâ€™s only 34, always throws close to 200 innings and manages 2-3 complete games a year for leagues that use that statistic.
Steve Pearce (OF):Â Pearce is just a trade away from jumping onto the Pirates opening day roster and if either Xavier Nady or Jason bay is shipped off to another team, expect to see a new power hitter in town.Â The 25 year old hit over .300 with 31 home runs last season moving from single A ball all the way to the Majors for a cup of coffee.Â He could use some more seasoning but if the talent he showed last year (and in college) translates well to the bigs he could be a dark horse for Rookie of the Year.