When the first ever Warning Track Power weekly poll question was released last Sunday the Pittsburgh Pirates were off to a fast start winning their opening series against the Chicago Cubs, 2 games to one. This shocked myself, as well as many others in the baseball community, considering my prediction that the Pirates would win a mere 58 games this year. The Houston Astros on the other hand were swept with ease by the Philadelphia Phillies and looked like a complete mess. Houston’s bullpen is a disaster and they will struggle to close out games all season long with Brandon Lyon and Wilton Lopez working the back end of games.
As of Sunday, the Pirates are playing .500 baseball(5-5) and the Astros are still struggling sitting at 2-7 on the early season. According to the WTP Poll 44% of voters believe that Pittsburgh will keep it up and finish in front of Houston in the standings this season. By keep it up, I do not mean play .500 or better baseball but keep it up in terms of outplaying the Astros this season. Upon re-examination of each team’s roster and current situation this could be very possible.
The Pirates extremely young offense appears to be coming into its own. You know what you will be getting from Andrew McCutchen, one of the best centerfielders in the game today, and Jose Tabata is emerging as a great all around corner outfielder. Tabata was considered to be a top tier prospect in the Yankees system before ultimately being traded to Pitt for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte a few years back. The problem with the Pirates is they have absolutely no pitching to speak of. Kevin Correia is as far from an ace as a team can get. Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf and Charlie Morton bring no value to the team(-.2 combined WAR in 2010,) and it is hard to expect anything out of them this season. James McDonald appears to have great stuff and a ton of talent but the jury is still out on whether he is going to put the pieces together and be a success.
The Astros on the other hand are an all around mess. There is a lone hitter in their lineup that can be relied on night in and night out; Hunter Pence(good for an OPS around .800 every year.) Carlos Lee is over the hill and Michael Bourn tends to waste his speed because he can’t find a way to get on base. It must be noted that Houston is stronger than the Pirates in the rotation; Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez are both very successful major league pitchers. It is too bad that they can not close any games out. Brandon Lyon would not even make many team’s bullpens yet he is the closer in Houston. Can you say utter disaster?
I do not want to go back on my preseason predictions so early in the season(Pirates 58 wins & Astros 70 wins) but I would not be surprised if Pittsburgh ended up surpassing Houston in the NL Central and not finishing last for once. By the way, great NL Central winner prediction Steve Berthiaume.
- Mark Teixeira hits 50 Home Runs in 2011: 38%
- Tex is 0 for his last 18
- Boston misses the playoffs: 6%
- The Red Sox just won 2 out of 3 against rival Yanks
- Baltimore Orioles compete all season: 6%
- The Orioles are sitting at 6-3 and in 1st place in the AL East
- Chase Utley will not play a game in 2011: 6%
- Still no timetable for Utley’s return