My 2010 Pirates Forecast
Just for the record. I'll probably revisit this next April, once we know what happens in the offseason.
Oh, and to establish a baseline: my prediction for 2009, emailed to a friend on Opening Day, was 72 wins if the pitching held up, 62 wins if it didn't. The pitching has been OK this year (although it could be argued that Snell and Gorzo together represent a failure), but of course they traded away all but 2 of their most talented position players. I don't think I'm on the hook for having foreseen that last spring.
If the Pirates start 2010 with this group of starters (including, possibly, Clement coming up to platoon with Garrett Jones at 1B), I expect them to play at a sub-.400 pace – that is, about 100-loss baseball. Improvements due to youth development and Doumit returning at least somewhat to form should make this a team that can score at least 3.5 runs/game, which should get them within sniffing distance of 60 wins (note that a team with 3.5 RS/game and 4.5 RA/game is a 61 win team). I expect aggregate performance from the starting pitchers to about match what we’ve seen the last 3 months; the big question mark is the bullpen, which is costing us something like half a run a game relative to a mediocre pen. If Neal Huntington cobbles together a professional pen around a resurgent Hanrahan and Capps, then I think we could get above .400 – if nothing goes wrong. If Jones turns into a pumpkin, if Cedeno regresses, if Doumit misses 2 months again – if anything along those lines happens, then I think we could comfortably be on pace for 110 losses.
That said, I don’t see any way that the whole season plays out like that. Among Tabata, Alvarez, Lincoln, and Alderson, I expect at least one to reach the bigs and make an impact. Depending which one it is, that’s worth 5-10 wins. In other words, if none of the better players on the existing roster blow up (due to injury or general failure), I expect to see ~95 losses, plus or minus 5.
To do much better than that, either 2 of the MiLers need to make an impact or Milledge and/or someone else needs to take a big step forward (or a FA needs to really pan out). I think it would take only a couple things going wrong to do much worse than that: 110 losses is in reach if none of the minor leaguers step up.