DeJa Vu, 97 Maybe Not!
By Richard A. Mathews
It is way past time to wake up.
Dreams are great but 2011 canít be a Freak Show repeat can it?
Okay, Iíll agree that Karstens, Maholm, Morton, Correia and McDonald are pitching a great deal as did Lieber, Schmidt, Cordova, Loiaza and Cook.
Sure, it has been fun to watch this rotation post a 2-run per game drop in era from last year but really can it continue.
Did anyone see Jeff Ė nobody wants me in the rotation Ė Karstens suddenly throwing shutouts putting together a staff low 2.66 era?
Am I the only idiot who figured Paul Maholm was one more #1 pick who would never actually figure it out posting a 3.12 era even if he canít buy a run in support of his outings.
Was it just me or did you really believe Charlie Morton would be in the running for comeback player of the year with 7 wins in 13 starts and a 3.21 era.
Then again, can anyone tell me when a Pirate closer had 18 saves in 18 chances as does Hanrahan at this point in a reason.
Maybe you smart Pirate fans had all of the above figured out.
I admit, I sure didnít .
Even with all the unbelievable pitching this team has enjoyed, Iím still stunned the Bucs are 3 games out of first following a road sweep of the Astros.
Of all the surprises this team has accomplished none match what I have seen up the middle in the way of improved defense from last year to this one.
I am sure somebody remembers the Bucs going a month without an error committed by either their starting shortstop, second baseman or center fielder. I do not.
If anyone before this season would have bet me Cedeno would put together the second longest errorless streak at short of any Pirate in history, I would taken that sucker bet and lost.
If anyone would have told me, Neil Walker would continue to improve at second to the point he ranked among the best fielding percentages in MLB, I would have lost that bet also.
If anyone would have told me, McCutchen could continue to play the shortest center in the game without hurting the club, I would have bet against that contention also.
This clubís improvement defensively is impossible to overstate as a reason for their success.
The 2011 Bucs are not the 1997 Bucs when it comes to their ability to win games by playing above average defense up the middle.
Which brings us to the at time offensive production of the Bucs offense.
IS there really any Bucco fan who believed this club could play winning baseball with;
Pedro on the DL only having hit 2 homers with 10 rbi for the year,
Cedeno hitting, .221,
Overbay batting .229,
Diaz having, zero home runs,
both starting catchers on the disabled list,
and Pedro on the DL only having hit 2 homers with 10 rbi for the year,
Obviously, my assessment of this 2011 club was wrong.
This team which had one of the worst starting rotations in baseball last year, fielded the ball terribly and hit for a near league low average is playing winning baseball with a majority of the same players.
Perhaps these young Bucs are improving from experience gained.
Perhaps these young Bucs are improving from improved coaching.
Perhaps these young Bucs are becoming a team based on winning one game at a time.
No matter the reason, I hope you are enjoying your 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Maybe this team isnít a repeat of the 1997 Freak Show.
Maybe this team is truly more representative of the late 1980ís clubs who went on to develop into the Division Champions of the early 1990ís.
Only time will tell how far and how fast this team improves.
The Dog Days of Summer are approaching.
The ride so far has been great.
Letís Go Bucs.