Pittsburgh Pirates: 2016 Offseason Report Card

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America

Usually, when a major-league team wins 98 games in one season, they handily win their division and often will earn home-field advantage throughout the league playoffs. Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2015’s National League Central was anything but usual, and 98 wins earned the Pirates nothing but a one-night stand with the Chicago Cubs and eventual Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, who powered through the Pirates’ offense en route to a 4-0 Chicago victory and a one-and-done playoff appearance for the team with Major League Baseball’s second-best record.

With the Cubs’ franchise on the rise after years of “rebuilding” and stockpiling young talent, and the St. Louis Cardinals posting a winning season for the 15th time in 16 years (including eight in a row back to 2008), the Pirates and General Manager Neal Huntington face the challenge of remaining competitive in what appears to be MLB’s toughest division in 2016. Working with a significantly smaller payroll than St. Louis or Chicago, Huntington had his work cut out for him, especially when Chicago went all-in for former Atlanta Braves and Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward in free agency. Luckily, Huntington has arguably one of the best young outfield cores in the league, with former MVP Andrew McCutchen, Gold Glover Starling Marte, and former top-10 prospect Gregory Polanco all under 30 years old and under team control through at least 2017.

5 Responses

  1. Dom DiDominic

    What makes you believe that Kang,”figures to be [out] a good portion of the season?” He’s in Bradenton and doing baseball drills.

    Reply
    • Craig Ferguson

      Also, Kang will be at 3rd and Josh Harrison will be at 2nd to replace Walker. Those are both offensive upgrades despite what this article says. Mercer will obviously still be at SS. I don’t think the author knows of what he writes.

      Reply
      • Matt Wojciak

        So, explain to me how an infield of Kang/Harrison/Walker is worse than Kang/Harrison/Mercer? Please, I’d love to hear it.

    • Matt Wojciak

      Estimates now are a late April, May return. Given the nature of the injury I’d be likely to bet it’s closer to May. When your middle infield consists of Jordy Mercer and Alen Hanson and your division contains two of the top 5 clubs in baseball, every month is going to be significant.

      Reply
  2. throwbackattack

    I still think the Pirates are going to be ok this season. Sure they may finish 3rd, but as long as their pitching holds up, they’ll still win anywhere from 85-95 games and that could still be enough to get a wild-card. I still believe the Pirates are going to be formidable in 2017 and ’18 when many of their top prospects (Bell, Glasnow, Taillon, Hanson) will probably be part of the team and likely starting. I do think they should spend a little more than they do (Kansas City is spending 125 million this season) but that isn’t the way they do business in the ‘burgh as far as baseball is concerned.

    Reply

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