Series Preview #4: Talking Pirates With Bucs Dugout

Brewers

vs.

5-5 (2nd place, NL Central)
5-5 (2nd place, NL Central)

GAME 1: April 12, 2011 @ 6:05 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 2
: April 13, 2011 @ 6:05 p.m. CDT

(TV: WMLW; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 3: April 14, 2011 @ 6:05 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

PNC Park   Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

SBN Coverage: Brewers vs Pirates coverage

A View from the Other Dugout: Bucs Dugout

 

Game 1 Shawn Marcum (1-1, 4.22)
vs. Kevin Correia (2-0, 1.29)
vs. Pirates
(0-0, 0.00)
vs. Brewers
(0-0, 0.00)
Game 2 Randy Wolf (0-2, 7.20)
vs. Paul Maholm (0-1, 2.19)
vs. Pirates
(0-0, 0.00)
vs. Brewers
(0-0, 0.00)
Game 3 Chris Narveson (1-0, 0.00)
vs.

TBD 

vs. Pirates
(0-0, 0.00)
vs. Brewers
--

As we get ready for tomorrow's series opener, Charlie Wilmoth of Bucs Dugout was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Pirates:

KL: The Pirates drew some early attention by going 4-2 in their season-opening road trip against the Cubs and Cardinals. What's gone right to bring them to this point, and can they keep it going?

CW: Some of it is just honest-to-goodness better fundamental baseball, and some of it is that many of their young hitters have played really well, but some of it was that they were getting away with getting owned with strikeouts and walks on both sides of the ball. Through the first couple series it was common for the Pirates' starter to have a couple of strikeouts and, say, three walks, while the opposing starter had seven strikeouts and one walk, and yet the Pirates would manage to win anyway. That isn't a recipe for long-term success.

Follow the jump for more!

KL: I know Pirates fans have spent a long time waiting for the answer to this question: Assuming this team doesn't contend again in 2011, when does their window of contention finally open?

CW: Who knows. They have a pretty good corps of young hitters in the majors now, but many of their best minor-league prospects are very young pitchers, so it will be somewhat tricky to get all the top talent producing at the same time. On top of that, there's the perennial problem of how much they're going to be able to raise payroll if things do come together. I'm generally on board with the plan Pirates GM Neal Huntington is pursuing, but the deck is stacked against the Bucs, and Huntington can lose even if he plays well.

KL: As of Saturday night, the only announced starter I've seen for this week's series is Paul Maholm. Who else do you expect to start against the Brewers, and what can you tell us about them?

CW: Kevin Correia is a garden-variety back-end guy who has pitched well in his first two starts for the Bucs. Charlie Morton is an enigma who has fascinated Pirates fans for years. He has excellent stuff and is finally using it to his advantage this year by throwing fastballs and sinkers that hitters have mostly pounded into the ground. He also has 10 walks in his first two starts, which is obviously worrisome, but Pirates fans are encouraged by his performance so far - last year the Bucs took the sinker away from him and he often looked lost. This season he's throwing like a power pitcher, and he looks a lot more comfortable.

KL: Four of the Pirates first five series are against the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers and Reds, the four teams widely considered to have a shot at winning the NL Central. Of the four, which do you think is the most likely champion, and what were your early impressions of the Cubs and Cardinals?

CW: The Brewers? Is that the right answer? It's hard to get strong impressions of a team from a three-game series, particularly when you're trying much harder to get a grip on what your own team can be. Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs were relatively wild against the Pirates, who aren't really known for being a patient team, although Matt Garza looked great, and it seemed like Starlin Castro was destroying the ball every time he came to the plate.

The Cardinals, in my subjective, small-sample-sized and possibly misremembered opinion, looked like the stronger overall team, and would have done better against the Bucs if a couple of hard-hit balls had left the park (including one by Colby Rasmus, who looks like a beast). The back of their rotation is a weakness with Adam Wainwright out, so it had to be reassuring for Cards fans to get such a nifty first start from Kyle McClellan.

KL: Like the Brewers, the Pirates are off on Monday. If you could pick one Pirate and tag along on his off day, who would you choose and why?

CW: I don't really think about ballplayers like that - as long as I get to watch them play, I'm happy to ignore them the rest of the time. I don't think the current Pirates team is a very exciting group of guys, anyway, and that's probably mostly a good thing. Heck, Neil Walker still lives with his parents. Charlie Morton plays the guitar, so I guess that's interesting, but I'm not really a fan of his music. Ross Ohlendorf is one of the smartest guys in baseball. Ronny Cedeno has an absurdly attractive wife, so I guess you could hang with him and hope she tags along. Andrew McCutchen is a star and he seems absolutely unflappable, and I've always admired people like that. Matt Diaz seems bright and personable. Jeff Karstens was kind enough to pose for pictures with an inebriated friend of a friend on a subway immediately after breaking his leg, so he's probably a pretty decent guy. I don't know - pick one.

Thanks to Charlie for taking the time, and remember to check out more of his work at Bucs Dugout.

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