- Grove City, Pennsylvania

March 27, 2013

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Don't expect Pirates to end long losing streak

By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News Sports Columnist

OPINION — THE PIRATES ARE LESS than a week away from opening the 2013 season at PNC Park against the Chicago Cubs and yet, I don’t know what to think.

Are we going to see the Pirates of May and June or the Buccos of August and September?

I’m just not sure.

I’m hoping for the former, but expecting the later.

The Pirates made no major additions in the offseason, so it’s so hard for me to expect anything more out of the 2013 PBC than the same-old, same-old, especially considering so many players had career years.

Which James McDonald will we see? Can A.J. Burnett manage to vie for a CY Young award?

What about Garrett Jones? Can he hit like he did and be a solid middle of the order guy for the Bucs?

Will Gabby Sanchez rebound from a rough 2012 to be the guy the team is hoping he can be?

Is Starling Marte the real deal or another Jose Tabata?

There are so many more questions that I have about the Pirates that it’s hard to be optimistic about the Buccos.

ä  I think the rotation has the potential to be good, especially once Gerrit Cole comes up from the minors in June.

Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez are two bona fide starting pitchers and a good 1-2 punch to throw out there with McDonald serving as the No. 3.

If Jonathan Sanchez can recapture his glory days from his time with the Giants, the Pirates will be trotting out yet another solid big league hurler, leaving Ray Searage the charge to find someone to fill in until Cole is ready.

The Pirates always throw together a solid bullpen out of a mismatched bunch of parts that I don’t see why they can’t do it again.

I just wonder if Jason Grilli will be able to effectively close out games or will the Pirates have to turn to Mark Melacon to be their closer.

ä I like the makings of the Pirates offense if they perform up to their capabilities.

Marte brings a bunch of potential to the top of the line-up with Jones batting second and followed by Andrew McCutchen and Neal Walker.

I’d go with Russell Martin at fifth for now with Pedro Alvarez sixth for now. Travis Snider and Clint Barmes should bat immediately in front of the pitcher.

They won’t be confused with the 1927 New York Yankees, but they won’t be horrible at the plate, either.

New hitting coach Jay Bell will have his hands full, getting these guys to do that and I’m interested to see what he can do with these guys.

ä Prediction: 80-82.

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