Well, it was to be expected that the Buccos would get taken to the woodshed by the BoSox today - it was an away game at Fort Meyers, so all the Red Sox would be there while the Pirates sent a busload of B-squadders to more or less compete.
The final was 11-4, and the highlights were a three-hit day by Robinzon Diaz (.500), who added a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored, and two more knocks from Craig Monroe (.311). And Brandon Moss returned to action, going 1-for-4 and looking like he'll be in shape for opening day.
But that pitching...Jeff Karstens went three innings, giving up 4 runs and 3 walks; Donnie Veal walked 4 in 1-2/3 frames, and Denny Bautista, Evan Meek, and Sean Burnett, who gave up three tallies in his inning of work, were all roughed up. Ross Ohlendorf was banged around in yesterday's minor league game.
So the bullpen, which had been so stellar in the early part of camp, is now springing leaks galore. And the starters? Remember last year's complaint that the rotation was set without any competition? Well, the first game isn't until April 6th, and as it stands now, your five starters are annointed. The more things change...
But we think that if there isn't a seachange for the better from the Pirate arms - and the team's record will depend mightily on their work - that there will be some change.
It won't come from free agency; Pedro Martinez is the only guy out there that would help, and his price and self-value seem to preclude any Pittsburgh interest. And there's no one on the near horizon skyrocketing in the Pirate system.
In the next coupla weeks, though, teams will be faced with cut downs. There are some interesting arms that could pop loose, maybe as trade bait, maybe as guys without an option left.
Cory of the Pirate Revolution mentions the Rays' Jeff Niemann, and there are other possibilities to join the list, like the A's Chad Gaudin, the Indian's Anthony Reyes, the Twins' Philip Humber, the Angels' Shane Loux, the O's David Pauley, and they're not alone.
So we think this year will be different. After last season's bitter lesson about pitching depth, we don't believe the Pittsburgh suits will sit still for a repeat performance. Hopefully, the staff will answer the bell for 2009. If not...