Baseball season is just days away, so it’s time to take a look at some of the Pirates’ competition in 2014. The team’s first 26 games will be played against NL Central opponents… here’s a look around the division.
Coming off a 66-96 last place finish, it doesn’t appear to be getting any better on the north side of Chicago. There’s a bright future there though, with a farm system that features some of the best prospects in baseball (Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, etc.) Give the Cubbies a couple of years.
Player who will end up killing the Pirates: Jeff Samardzija… He seems to always find a way to dominate the Pirates: 2.11 ERA and 58 K in 64 innings vs. Pittsburgh. He’ll be on the mound at PNC on Monday.
Reasons to hate the Cubs: This song is the worst:
Let’s make fun of their new mascot too (even though the performer was the Pirate Parrot until a few weeks ago…)
Watching the Pirates sweep the Reds in Cincinnati during the last weekend of the regular season, then winning again on Tuesday in the Wild Card game was just plain awesome. The Redlegs fired skipper Dusty Baker soon thereafter, promoting to pitching coach Bryan Price to the managerial role for 2014. Like the Pirates, Cincy had a quiet winter, but should be competitive with some of their top players still in place.
Player who will end up killing the Pirates: Billy Hamilton… That speed.
A tough start to the season crushed the Brew Crew in 2013, and losing their best player to suspension certainly didn’t help. Still, they played good ball in the second half of the season with a 36-32 record. Milwaukee could have a decent squad in 2014 with Braun returning, a few guys like Gomez and Segura hitting their stride, and the addition of Matt Garza in the rotation.
Player who will end up killing the Pirates: Gomez crushed Pirates pitching in 2013 (.338/.377/.606) so watch out for him as he continues to break out.
Reasons to hate the Brewers: Ryan Braun obviously, Gomez is pretty annoying, Miller Park (aka House of Horrors for the Pirates)
St. Louis Cardinals
A National League contender year in and year out, the Cardinals will continue to be a pain for the Pirates in the Central. A World Series runner-up squad wasn’t good enough for GM John Mozeliak, as he went out early in the offseason and strengthened the Redbirds at shortstop with Jhonny Peralta and in the outfield with Peter Bourjos. It’ll be tough to build upon 97 wins, but St. Louis looks to take the division again this year.
New guys: Peralta, Bourjos, Mark Ellis
Player who will end up killing the Pirates: Michael Wacha, who dominated the Bucs a couple of times in 2013, including a near perfect performance in Game 4.
Reasons to hate the Cardinals: they’re almost too good (almost), crushing our dreams in the NLDS
Standings? I think they have a good chance to look a lot like last year.
First and last seem to be taken… Holding out for another second place finish for the Bucs, though that could easily be the Reds. Can’t see the Brewers finishing any higher than third, but they could make some noise. It all starts on Monday…