I wouldn’t call my self pessimistic in nature. I’m fairly upbeat and easy going. It generally takes a lot to drag me down. Yet, I’ve found myself very skeptical of the chances of the 2012 Pirates making the playoffs. I don’t like to feel the way I feel. I’d rather enjoy the winning and hope that it continues. In the early 1990s I used to wake up everyday expecting a win. That isn’t the case now. But I want it to be. So, I made a list of five things that I need to have happen in order for me to be ‘all in’ on the 2012 Pirates. Quite obviously I want them to win every game. So, by all-in I mean casting aside any/every doubt that I have about the quality of this ball club and enjoying every day that they remain in the hunt.
Five things that have to happen in July:
1. Clint Barmes starts fewer than five games in the month. He can’t hit. He has a negative WAR on the season. If this club is serious about winning now, then whatever crow has to be eaten regarding his contract should be eaten. He can’t continue to start and weigh down the offense. His best month with the stick was June and it included a poor .632 OPS that was 13th among NL shortstops. That’s not nearly enough. He needs to sit for the rest of the year.
2. Pedro Alvarez posts a .950 OPS. He posted a .926 OPS in June. I’m needing him to step it up a bit more and put together two straight great months. As good as Andrew McCutchen is, Cutch alone won’t be enough to keep this team in the race.
3. Jose Tabata posts an .800 OPS. He hasn’t had an OPS of greater than .800 in a given month since August 2010. He also needs to step it up. It is time for him to be a productive, dangerous part of the batting order.
4. No regression from the pitching staff. Okay, that’s asking for a lot. So, let’s say I want minimal regression. Pirate starters have had their ERA increase each month. It was 2.69 in April. Then it was 4.16 in May. In June it was 4.59. If it goes much higher than 4.75, I think that’ll be a problem. Pirate relievers have been stellar but have been used quite a bit. Through June they have the fourth most innings accumulated by any NL bullpen (within two innings of second and within two innings of seventh). I don’t want them to burn out and crash. Effective starters can help lighten the load on them. Pirate starters have averaged about 5.6 innings per start. So, I want the starters to have a collective ERA of no worse than 4.75 and a collective average innings pitched per start of six.
5. No injuries to Cutch. This goes without saying and yet he sprained his wrist yesterday and is out today. If he misses significant time, then all bets are off for me.