The last place Pittsburgh Pirates just completed a sweep of the first place St. Louis Cardinals with a 6-5 victory on Wednesday. The win lengthens the Pirates’ win streak to five, after a horrid month of losing in June. While starting pitching has been a huge key during the streak, the timely hitting from the Pirates’ younger stars could come as more of a surprise.
But is this something that Pirate fans should get hyped about or no?Sure. Why not? The Tampa Bay Devil Rays just came off a win streak that put them above the .500 mark and Pittsburgh is every bit as good as they are, right?
Well if you are a Pirates fan, there certainly are reasons to believe that your team is maybe not turning a corner for this season, but are really gearing towards the future.
Though rookie lefthander Sean Burnett has made only four major league starts, he could easily emerge as one of the league’s brightest young pitchers. He is not overpowering, but that has enabled the kid to learn how to pitch a young age in the minors. Sean is also just the first of what figures to be many rookie pitchers that will be making their debuts for Pittsburgh from now until the end of next season. (i.e. Ian Snell, John VanBenschoten, Bryan Bullington, Bobby Bradley and perhaps even Zach Duke.)
What the future rookie pitchers won’t have to worry about is feeling pressured to come in and take over the #1 starting job and lead the rotation. That job has already been assigned to Oliver Perez – acquired in the Brian Giles deal – and he is taking off with it. He has easily been the most dominant pitcher on the staff and one of the most dominant in the National League. Opposing managers have even labeled Perez a “Randy Johnson type”, because of his mid to high nineties fastball and electrifying slider.
While the pitching depth in the minors is deep and some of the prospects ready to develop in the majors, it is the impact position players that many feel the Pirates lack to ever contend in the National League.
The future parts that are already in place on the major league roster have come around this year, but could be on the verge of already leaving as they are either in or nearing a contract season. The first name that comes to mind is shortstop Jack Wilson.
Jack is leading all National League shortstops in many offensive categories and provides gold glove defense game in and game out. He will more than likely be the Bucco representative on the All-Star team, but it will be a real shame that he is not voted in. Before the season, Wilson was able to get a $1.8 million deal in arbitration and with the season he is having thus far, he will more than likely demand a mult-year deal worth much more. The question is whether or not it will be out of the Pirates league.
Jason Bay – also a part in the Giles deal – is starting to come around from his slow start to the year. His rough start was due to a shoulder injury that required surgery over the off-season and it had taken a month into the season to even be playing again. Now that he is gaining his full health each day and is out of his early season slump, Bay is putting up numbers that will get him some serious consideration for Rookie of the Year this season. That would be one thing that should make many Pirate fans happy at the end of the year.
Wilson and Bay are just two parts that could be around on the Pirates’ roster for years to come and could provide a solid foundation to a future championship team. Keep in mind the names of Craig Wilson and Rob Mackowiak as well. Two guys who were main utility players the past two seasons, but are having huge breakout seasons this year as they are given the chance to start each night. Also, never forget about Jason Kendall. Two things will always be given if Jason is still around: 1) He will be taking up most of the payroll by himself. 2) He will be one of the best hitting catchers in the league and will always play the game the way it should be played.
All that in mind, the future of this organization doesn’t seem so bad at the present time and whatever win streak you would like to use get hyped up about your team, I say use it. Whether it’s a 5 game winner or maybe even a 15. Keep your heads up Pirate fans…a winning season and a much improved younger team could be right around the corner.