Friday, August 18, 2006

Believe it: Bucs are better

It's difficult to uncover the silver lining in a 46-75 record, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are moving in the right direction as an organization.

If developing young pitching from within is truly the key to organizational stability, then the Pirates are on the right track.

Ian Snell, the Bucs' starting pitcher tonight in the opening game of a three-game series with the Reds at Great American Ball Park, is a good example.

He's struggled with consistency. But, since May 20 Snell has gone 5-2 with a 3.66 ERA away from PNC Park while limiting opposing batters to a .227 average. He's just beginning to mature.

Zach Duke is a much-heralded prospect. Then there's Paul Maholm, Bryan Bullington and Tom Gorzelanny.

An excellent analogy posted on today referenced the 1988 Braves who finished nearly 40 games out of first place when a 22-year-old Tom Glavine went 7-17 and 21-year-old John Smoltz went just 2-7. Steve Avery, then just 20-years old, won only three of his 20 starts the following year.

That trio matured to become the foundation of a dynasty.

Now, I'm not saying the Pirates will run off a string of consecutive NL Central Division titles on par with the Braves' dominance in the East. But, Pirates fans have reason to believe there are better days ahead.

Pittsburgh's condition isn't as dire as its record might make it appear.


Chris at Redleg Nation said...

I think I've heard this tune before. The young pitchers are nice, but I wouldn't be so quick to tout an organization that just traded for Shawn Chacon.

Jeff Wallner said...

I believe they gave up on Oliver Perez a little too soon as well. They have issues, but there is some promise hidden in that 46-75 mark.

Chris at Redleg Nation said...

I was going to bring up Perez, too. Though as the cautionary tale about young pitchers.

I had a good friend in their front office (business side) during the Bonifay era, and the same sort of nonsense he described persists.

They have talented arms, Bay is great (though in his prime), and Wilson is adequate. It's hard not to be better than 46-75, so I agree with you to a degree. I just think McClatchy may be a young Lindner.