Pittsburgh Pirates

Manager: Clint Hurdle
Stadium: PNC Park
2008 Record: 67-95 (6th in NL Cent)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule

LINEUP

08: Batting | Runs (9th in NL)
PLAYER B POS
Nyjer Morgan L LF
Freddy Sanchez R 2B
Nate McLouth L CF
Ryan Doumit B C
Adam LaRoche L 1B
Brandon Moss L RF
Andy LaRoche R 3B
Jack Wilson R SS
OFF THE BENCH
Eric Hinske L INF/OF
Ramon Vazquez L INF

PITCHING

08: Pitching | ERA (16th in NL)
ROTATION T POS
Ian Snell R SP1
Paul Maholm L SP2
Zach Duke L SP3
Ross Ohlendorf R SP4
Jeff Karstens R SP5
BULLPEN
John Grabow L Setup
Tyler Yates R Setup
Matt Capps R Closer
 
The Bucs have finished below .500 for 16 straight seasons. If, as expected, that dubious streak reaches 17, they'll set an American major sports record. How can a once-proud franchise avoid such shame? Well, its enigmatic pitchers could get on the same wavelength. Four of Pittsburgh's promising arms -- Ian Snell, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke and Tom Gorzelanny -- have had success at the big league level, just not at the same time. So the Pirates hired veteran pitching coach Joe Kerrigan to get them in sync. His biggest task will be figuring out what happened to No. 1 starter Snell. After posting a 3.76 ERA in 208 innings in 2007, his ERA jumped to 5.42 last year. Gorzelanny's ballooned from 3.88 to 6.66. (The lefty was sent to Triple-A this spring.) As a result, John Russell used his bullpen more than any other NL manager, and it wasn't pretty: Bucs relievers combined for a 4.66 ERA, worst in the league. "Our starters averaged just over five innings a start," says GM Neil Huntington. "We need more than that." What the Pirates really need is a winning season. Just one.
-- Tim Kurkjian

ESPN The Magazine's Pirates preview Insider

PROSPECTS

HITTER TO WATCH:

Toolsy outfielder Andrew McCutchen should be ready for the majors after a few months in Triple-A, with no one in Pittsburgh's outfield likely to pose any obstacle to his ascension.

PITCHER TO WATCH:

Reliever Jeff Sues has an above-average fastball and a power slurve that he'll use to hitters on both sides of the plate, but mediocre control may hold him back.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.

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SPORTSNATION

Can the Pirates surprise teams? Will Freddy Sanchez become an elite second baseman? Can Ryan Doumit elevate himself to the next level of NL catchers? Register your vote.

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Featured Comment

For $35 a person you can go to one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country, enjoy unlimited refreshments and depending on the night, if you bring your mitt, you may be asked to play center field.


josephj1109

National League fan previews

FANTASY

SLEEPER

Yes, Andy LaRoche had a dreadful 2008. He is coming off a stellar spring training, and he'll cost you practically nothing even in a deep NL-only league. Why not take a late-round shot on a guy who was once one of the game's better prospects?

BUST

Many people are looking at Nyjer Morgan as a dirt-cheap source for steals, but he performed dreadfully in the spring -- barely a .200 batting average -- and faces a lot of competition for at-bats in that outfield. There are more talented prospects ready to replace him.
--Tristan H. Cockcroft

INJURY TO WATCH

Jack Wilson. Wilson was at an all-time low in 2008. He played in his fewest games, largely as a result of injury. After a torn calf muscle and broken right (throwing) index finger derailed most of his season, Wilson wasn't sure he would still be in Pittsburgh this year. But in Pittsburgh he remains, and although he's not going to be a rock star, the hope is that he'll be healthy enough to continue to provide primarily a solid defensive presence. Despite missing a few days with a bruised knee in spring training, he's hoping he'll have his best attendance record in years in 2009.
-- Stephania Bell

MORE

30 Questions: Is Nate McLouth's 2008 for real?

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

  • Jayson Stark

    Stark
    No. 28 overall
    (6th in
    NL Central)

  • Tim Kurkjian

    Kurkjian
    No. 25 overall
    (6th in
    NL Central)

  • Buster Olney

    Olney
    No. 26 overall
    (5th in
    NL Central)

  • Rob Neyer

    Neyer
    No. 30 overall
    (6th in
    NL Central)

  • Jim Caple

    Caple
    No. 29 overall
    (6th in
    NL Central)