Are the Pirates a better bet to maintain a winning record than the 2011 and 2012 versions? Vote, please, in the poll at left.
I say yes. It’s not a lock. But it’s likely. My reasons:
*Deeper rotation. Injuries will test that notion tout de suite.
*Young players like Starling Marte and Jeff Locke blossoming ahead of schedule.
*Much better catcher.
*Jordy Mercer = upgrade at shortstop (if Manager Clint Hurdle commits to him).
*Sooner or later, you’ve got to get lucky. The Pirates are due for some good fortune. Even the most moribund sports team can’t lose forever.
Don't underestimate the drastic impact of the improvement at catcher and shortstop. Russell Martin isn’t Buster Posey. Mercer isn’t Derek Jeter. But they’re not Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes, either. Barajas didn’t belong in the bigs. Barmes simply can’t hit.
The Pirates’ injury situation is a bit worrisome. A.J. Burnett (calf), Wandy Rodriguez (forearm), J-Suck (shoulder, could be a blessing), Jose Tabata (oblique), Jeanmar Gomez (forearm), Marte (rib cage)…YIKES.
The Pirates just beat the defending world champs two out of three. But right now, the Bucs need to be in survival mode. Tread water until bodies get healthy.