2014 National League Central Preview

NL Central 2014

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.

Chicago Cubs

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.

New guys: former Buc Jose Veras, Justin Ruggiano, Clark the Cub

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…)

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Cincinnati Reds

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.

New guys: Skip Schumaker, Brayan Pena

Player who will end up killing the Pirates: Billy Hamilton… That speed.

Reasons to hate the Reds: Brandon Phillips, Aroldis Chapman, beanball, Great American Smallpark

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Milwaukee Brewers

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.

New guys: Garza, Will Smith (not him)

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)

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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

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Standings? I think they have a good chance to look a lot like last year.

1. Cardinals
2. Pirates
3. Reds
4. Brewers
5. Cubs

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…

Go Bucs

Monday Morning Links 8/26/13

Pirates:

– Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett will head the Pirates’ playoff rotation, should they make it that far.

– Tony Sanchez is becoming a personal catcher of sorts for Liriano.

– Sanchez will have to earn the number 26.

– Gregory Polanco is getting some action in right field, rather than center, for Class AA Altoona… Hmm…

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Around the League:

– Jerry Crasnick breaks down Ryan Braun’s apology.

– Roy Halladay is back.

– Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis conquered the wish of a young Indians fan.

– ESPN’s John Kruk had to leave Sunday Night Baseball at Dodger Stadium due to dehydration.

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Updated NL Central Standings:

Team

Record

Games Back

Pittsburgh

76-54

-

St. Louis

76-54

-

Cincinnati

74-57

2.5

Milwaukee

57-73

19.0

Chicago

55-75

21.0

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On tap this week:

Monday - off - -
Tuesday vs. Brewers 7:05 pm
Wednesday vs. Brewers 7:05 pm
Thursday vs. Brewers 7:05 pm
Friday vs. Cardinals 7:05 pm
Saturday vs. Cardinals 7:05 pm
Sunday vs. Cardinals 1:35 pm

 

Go Bucs

Monday Morning Links 8/19/13

Pirates:

– Justin Morneau, anyone? Read here, here, and here.

– The Bucs have a plan for Gerrit Cole down the stretch.

– Jeff Locke could get some extra rest in the near future.

– In minor moves, the Pirates signed Kyle Farnsworth and acquired Doug Mathis.

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Around the League:

– Ryan Braun is a joke.

– Ryan Dempster drilled Alex Rodriguez, clearing the benches in Boston.

– Miguel Tejada was suspended 105 games.

– Max Scherzer picked up his 18th win on Sunday.

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Updated NL Central Standings:

Team

Record

Games Back

Pittsburgh

72-51

-

St. Louis

71-52

1.0

Cincinnati

70-54

2.5

Milwaukee

54-70

18.5

Chicago

53-70

19.0

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On tap this week:

Monday @ Padres 10:10 pm
Tuesday @ Padres 10:10 pm
Wednesday @ Padres 6:40 pm
Thursday @ Giants 10:15 pm
Friday @ Giants 10:15 pm
Saturday @ Giants 9:05 pm
Sunday @ Giants 4:05 pm

 

Go Bucs

Ryan Braun suspended for remainder of season

Ryan Braun suspended 2013

Well, the Pirates remaining games against the Milwaukee Brewers just got easier.

Major League Baseball has suspended Ryan Braun for the rest of the 2013 season without pay due to violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

He’s ending this year with a .298 batting average and .869 OPS in 61 games, missing some time over the past month with a hand injury.

Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, got off the hook in 2012, and sounded so sincere after winning his appeal:

Then: “I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point.”

Now: “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”

Liar. Cheater. Ryan Braun.

The 29-year-old outfielder is a lifetime .318/.408/.589 hitter against the Pirates. We won’t miss him.

Ryan Braun falls down GIF

Bucco GIF’s of the Week: May 20 – 26

Note: Page may take time to load. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to click on GIF to watch full version.

Here are some GIF’s of the best Bucco moments from the past week…

– Travis Snider’s pinch-hit grand slam:

Travis Snider Grand Slam
(Link)

– Brandon Inge playing roller hockey in the clubhouse:

Brandon Inge Playing Hockey Pirates Penguins
(Link)

– Travis Snider flashing the Zoltan… while laying down:

Snider Zoltan
(Link)

Honorable mention: Julio Borbon’s running catch on Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez’s three diving stops, Ryan Braun flipping his bat after striking out