|06-25-2003, 11:40 PM||#1|
Netshrine Cleanup Hitter
Mid-season report: Pirates
The Pirates are slogging along again, 32-43, in spite of one of the league's best players in Brian Giles. Why can't they get out of the rut? One reason is an unproductive farm system.
Giles is still one of the best anywhere, and he is the only premium hitter in the lineup. Aramis Ramirez has picked up his average after a slow start, but the power has yet to come around. Veterans Kenny Lofton and Reggie Sanders have added respectibility to the lineup, along with Craig Wilson and Jason Kendall. Randall Simon and Matt Stairs are also over OPS 700, but only just. Jack Wilson is in the 600s, and second base has been papered over with Jeff Reboulet following the injury to Pokey Reese.
The defense has been respectable overall, with trouble spots at 3B and RF, as Ramirez' range has suffered, and Sanders and Stairs have not shown the ability to go get the ball as age advances. Reese, the best defender, is now on the DL.
Kip Wells has turned in a solid half-year of starting, and has 8 no-decisions to show for it. Jeff Suppan and Jeff D'Amico have eaten up innings, but Josh Fogg has been hurt, and Kris Benson has been pitching like he's hurt again. Closer Mike Williams has struggled, and the Bucs may have held onto him one year too long. Joe Beimel has been effective, but Scott Sauerbeck has been wild. Brian Boehringer has been "taterriffic," with 8 homers surrendered in 29 innings.
There are rumors the Pirates would move Giles, and if it would restock the system with youngsters that would be good. There are no high-level prospects ready to step in anywhere. A repeat of the Todd Ritchie trade for three usable pitchers would be helpful. Otherwise, the Pirates will continue to wallow below .500. Swapping out some of the veterans as stretch-drive help for youngsters would be a good strategy for GM Dave Littlefield.
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