Found August 22, 2013 on isportsweb.com:
Big names like Pedro Alvarez must be more consistent at the plate if the Pirates are to make a serious playoff run. For the first time in two decades, Pirates fans won’t be, or at least shouldn’t be, satisfied with mediocrity. If you could get in a time machine and travel back ten, five, or heck, even one year ago and ask Bucs fans what they expected out of their favorite team by the middle of August, it’s a good bet that the vast majority of them would tell you that a winning record, something that has eluded them since 1992, would be plenty to satiate even the most die-hard yinzers. However, that is no longer the case.  That’s because these Pirates have done something that the 21 teams before them haven’t: managed to stay competitive late into the season and emerge as legitimate contenders to win the NL Central.  The Pirates have finally fielded a successful team, and with success comes high expectations. Gone are the days of Kip Wells and Jason Kendall.  Gone are the days when a game at PNC Park in late August meant being one of a few thousand fans showing up to watch a team 20 games below .500 for a few hours.  Gone are the days of the “Here we go Steelers” chants during the 7th inning stretch.  The Pirates are finally a legitimate threat, and they need to rise to the occasion and make good on these new lofty expectations. If they are to avoid a late season collapse similar to the ones that befell the team the past two seasons, both the players and the coaching staff need to push themselves to their full potential, and that starts with the players. For as dynamic a lead-off man as Starling Marte has been, he needs to focus on the fundamentals of his game.  No, I’m not talking about watching simple pop-flys into his glove.  Errors are unavoidable and are bound to happen to everyone, once in a while.  If Marte doesn’t want to forfeit his leadoff spot to Josh Harrison, he needs to relax at the plate and not swing at pitches three feet out of the strike zone.  When you posses the kind of speed Marte does, getting on base should be of the utmost importance. Another Pirate who could work on his presence in the betters box is MVP Andrew McCutchen.  Yes, even All-Stars can improve their games sometimes.  For as much as he is touted as a big-time player, Cutch goes through periods of struggling to put the ball in play with men on base.  While he has 37 hits with RISP, he also has 20 strikeouts, many of them coming late in close games. Currently, he ranks 60th in the league in leaving RISP stranded even though he is hitting .317. Even minute improvements in these areas can mean the difference between a win or a loss. The same goes for Pedro Alvarez.  Yes, he has 31 home runs, but his .231 batting average and 152 strikeouts are pitiful, even for a power hitter.  1st in the NL in homeruns is good.  31st in OPS, 139th in batting average, and 1st in strikeouts isn’t.  It’s either one extreme or the other with El Toro. Thankfully, pitching, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen, has not been a problem.  If Jeff Locke can avoid being this year’s James Macdonald and return to his midseason form the Pirates will boast one of the best starting-five rotations in all of Major League Baseball.  Getting all star closer Jason Grilli back from injury wouldn’t hurt either. Make no mistake, these Pirates are for real.  But  if they want to reach their full potential they need to start playing like the Pirates of the future and not the Pirates of the past. Seven more wins ‘till .500 will be a milestone and a cause for celebration, but it shouldn’t be the final goal.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Pirates Notebook: Why Felix Pie Joined the Bucs to Lead Off

Felix Pie will bring speed and some contact hitting to the Pirates, though not much else. SAN DIEGO — No time for formalities. Why was outfielder Felix Pie called up Wednesday to join the Pirates’ roster? “We felt he was our best available option,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “With Travis [Snider] being on the DL, Alex Presley and Andrew Lambo in limbo...

Pirates Add Felix Pie to Tonight’s Lineup; Ryan Reid Could be Optioned

Felix Pie has been added to the roster, batting leadoff tonight. (Photo Credit: David Hague) The Pittsburgh Pirates have called up Felix Pie and have added him to tonight’s lineup, batting leadoff and playing left-field. Ryan Reid is expected to be optioned to make room for Pie on the 25-man roster. No word on the 40-man roster move, which needs to be made since Pie isn’t currently...

Minor League Schedule: Both Glasnow and Taillon Start Tonight

Yesterday was a big win for West Virginia in the playoff race, as they remain a half game ahead of Hickory for the second playoff spot in their division. Tonight they go with Tyler Glasnow on the mound, while Indianapolis throws the other top pitching prospect, Jameson Taillon. Indianapolis had off yesterday. The DSL regular season ends on Saturday. Check out the Recent Transactions...

Pirates' Jason Grilli feels good after bullpen session

While the Pittsburgh Pirates received disappointing news regarding Wandy Rodriguez's recovery, Jason Grilli offered some positive news.  The Pirates' reliever threw his first bullpen session since landing on the DL, and the session went well.  Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was eager to move on from the news of Rodriguez's scheduled trip to see Dr. James Andrews, so...

Cunningham Picks Up Three Hits, But Curve Continue Losing Skid

Jarek Cunningham picked up three hits tonight. Photo Credit: David Hague The Altoona Curve have found themselves in a late season swoon, losing to the Reading Fightins 8-0 on Wednesday night. They lost three of four to the Philadelphia Phillies’ AA affiliate in the series and five of six overall, scoring just seven runs in that span. “It’s just not being able to make adjustments...

Altoona Loses Pitcher’s Duel Against Reading

David Bromberg gave up one unearned run in 5.2 innings tonight. Reading’s Ryan Demmin and Altoona’s David Bromberg found themselves in a pitcher’s duel on Tuesday night at Peoples’ Natural Gas Field. The Fightins scored a controversial run in the sixth and added an insurance run in the eighth to shut out the Curve 2-0 in Eastern League action. The lefty Demmin was making...

Minor League Schedule: Creasy Looks to Help West Virginia’s Playoff Chances

The West Virginia Power lost last night, leaving them just a 1/2 game ahead of Hickory for the second playoff spot in the SAL Northern division. Indianapolis has off today. The DSL regular season ends on Saturday. Check out the Recent Transactions section to the bottom of this page, for all Pirates minor league transactions. A full recap of yesterday’s action can be found here...

I Guess it is Time To Start Paying Attention to the Pirates

The Pirates are a team that tend to just go away. They play well the first half of the season, getting Pittsburgh fans excited they may make the playoffs, or at least hit the .500 mark, and they end up imploding in the second half like no other team. It’s come to the point where I don’t really pay attention to them in the standings. If they are in first and the Cardinals are...

Burnett returns to form in Pirates' 8-1 win over Padres

A.J. Burnett had a lead before he took the mound Tuesday night. After that his usual serving of fastballs and knuckle curves did the trick. Burnett rebounded from two mediocre outings during the Pirates' 8-1 win against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park their second win in a row. The St. Louis Cardinals' loss Tuesday night meant that the Pirates took a two-game lead in...

Game 128 Preview: Pirates vs. Giants

Pirates (75-52) at Giants (56-71) 10:15 PM–AT&T Park, San Francisco MLB.com Gameday TV: ROOT The Bucs look to take the first two in their second straight series out west as they take on the Giants in another late game tonight. Once again, they’ll need to win or risk losing their lead in the division, depending on what St. Louis does. Cincinnati is playing very well now too...

Jeff Locke tries to right himself against the Giants

Jeff Locke has been pretty terrible since the All-Star break. Including his last disastrous start against the Diamondbacks, Locke has a 5.58 ERA over 30 2/3 innings in five starts. The guys at Pirates Prospects have been beating the "this is just regression and he'll even himself out" drum pretty hard, but I'm not convinced that adequately explains his struggles...

Game 126: Padres 2 Pirates 1

This is admittedly overly-reductive and entirely unfair, but in a way, Felix Pie's Pirate debut was actually decided by Felix Pie before any of his Pirate teammates -- the teammates that have made up the Pirates entirely without him this year prior to tonight -- contributed anything to this game at all. Pie lead off the game with an infield single (punctuated with a needless...

Pat Ludwig Follows Up Pitcher of the Week Honors With Another Gem

Pat Ludwig gave up one run in seven innings tonight. Last week Pat Ludwig tossed seven shutout innings, giving up just two hits, one walk, and striking out seven. The outing was the second best in the Pirates system for the week, and was enough to earn Ludwig the Florida State League Pitcher of the Week award. Tonight was the first time Ludwig made a start since that outing. His...

Pittsburgh Pirates take two games against San Diego Padres

After losing two out of three games played against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pirates traveled to San …The post Pittsburgh Pirates take two games against San Diego Padres appeared first on On Her Game.

Five Good Thin’s: Pirate Edition

Ah me favorite series o’ t’ year. T’ time I get t’ speak like a man o’ t’ sea, t’ dreaded Pirate. After winnin’ two straight games against t’ Mets, T’ Friars dropped t’ first two, and t’ series hostin’ t’ Pirates at Petco Park. Though this be normally not a good thin’, thar be plenty o’ positives t’ take from this series. Here be me five.”   5...
Pirates News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.