I often get accused of apologizing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sometimes that’s because I prefer to take a patient approach, rather than rushing to make a judgement. Sometimes that’s because I put out a lofty projection for a player. Usually it’s ignored that I’ve got a pretty good track record, and that I also can be lower on some players than others.
What I find funny about this year is the evolution of the “apologist”. The team is 11 games over .500 right now. The farm system is looking pretty strong, with some major league ready talent in Triple-A, and a lot of guys on hot streaks. In the past, when the Pirates were losing, and didn’t have big breakout performances from unexpected prospects like Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco, I felt the “apologist” line made sense. I felt it was usually code for “I’m right, and the only way you can think otherwise is if you’re just trying to defend someone”. But I understood how people could see it that way, considering the team was horrible the last few years, giving little reason for anything other than doom and gloom.
So what is there to apologize for now that the team is winning, and being talked about nationally as a legit contender? Well, here are my mid-season apologies for this team as we head in to the second half.
**I apologize for saying Gregg Ritchie should have been fired. That came in mid-May, right before the Pirates’ offense turned in to one of the best in the league. I don’t know if that offense will stay the best in the league, but it’s not looking like the hitting coach should be fired any time soon.
**I apologize for saying two years ago that James McDonald was more likely to be a number two starter, rather than a top of the rotation guy. I should have just said top of the rotation guy.
**I apologize to Kevin Correia for saying on a weekly basis that he should be removed from the rotation. Do I believe that a regression is coming? Yes. Am I a slave to the advanced metrics that say Correia isn’t this good? Absolutely. But the truth is that Correia isn’t a bad number five starter, even with his xFIP numbers. Look around the league. The Pirates could do worse. Although I believe they could do better, which brings me to…
**I apologize to the Indianapolis left-handers. We called you the Altoona Four for way too long. Bryan Morris moving to the bullpen really helped with this new nickname. Plus it avoids the dilemma I have of always wondering what order to list you guys in. The truth is, you all have the same potential, unless Justin Wilson’s new found control is legit.
**I apologize to my Twitter followers for having to read the weekly Starling Marte discussions with the other Twitter followers who think my opinion on his promotion impacts the decision of the Pirates.
**I apologize to those same Twitter followers for all discussions about how I wouldn’t trade prospects.
**I apologize to Charlie Morton for putting the jinx on your arm. One day after talking about how the Pirates have done well avoiding major arm injuries, you went down with Tommy John surgery. In my defense, your elbow was shredded long before I made that post.
**I apologize to anyone who missed my pre-season article about the emerging international hitters in the lower levels. It would have probably saved you a lot of “where did these guys come from?” questions. I also apologize for ranking Jose Osuna ahead of the other international hitters. I usually don’t rate first basemen that high. I got too caught up in his power, which hasn’t been as good this year.
**I apologize to anyone who caught my pre-season article about Stetson Allie, talking about his improved command and how he had a shot at being a starter. His command was improved in Spring Training, as you can see in the videos in that article. However, I didn’t focus enough on the bolded part below, which ended up being the bigger problem.
So does this mean that Allie is destined to be a closer? Not quite. All it takes is for him to find a way to harness his aggression, and avoid losing his composure when things start to spin out of control. We’ve already seen some improvements in that area.
**I apologize for wanting Clint Barmes over the off-season. His defense has been good this year, but the bat has been weak, making him an expensive version of Cesar Izturis.
**I apologize for saying this team was a 72-75 win team. Looking at their easy schedule to start the second half, they could reach that by the end of August.
Links and Notes
**Only one day left to join the Draft Street free roll. It’s a one day fantasy baseball contest with $350 in cash prizes. Best of all, it’s FREE to join! Click here to join.
**Prospect Watch: Grossman Has Been on Fire Since Suspension.
**Prospect Notebook: Baker Enjoying Move To Pen; McPherson Trying to Get Back on Track.
**Kevin Goldstein predicted the 2013 Future’s rosters at ESPN. For the Pirates, he had Luis Heredia and Alen Hanson making the game.