For the last 19 years, the world has found more ways than you can count to write and dash negative things about the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2012, it hasn't been so easy. I hate to be the one to do this, but the last couple series have made me feel a bit uneasy about where this season is headed.
The fact is that the Pirates are doing what they have needed to do since the all-star break; winning baseball games. They are 10-6 since the midsummer classic, which is pretty good regardless of how bad their schedule has been. Should they have lost two of three to the Cubs at home? No, probably not. But that stuff happens during the course of a 162-game season.
What's worrying me is how they've looked against the worst teams in baseball. They needed a lot of help to beat the Astros, getting two very fortunately timed wild pitches helping them get a pair of wins.
You'll take wins however you can get them, but barely being able to win a series against the AAAstros doesn't bode well for the future.
Probably the scariest thing is the decline in offense. It hasn't been a huge drop off but they definitely aren't clicking the way they were right before the break. Obviously this team wasn't going to score 5-6 runs a game for very long, and if you didn't see this coming you might want to check your sanity. Andrew McCutchen has stopped being one of the best players to ever hold a bat, another thing you should have seen coming, and no one else has really stepped up in a big enough way to make up for it. Starling Marte provided some offense in his debut, but since then he has just two hits. This offense is no longer one of the best in the league, and pending a trade (that I don't think they're going to make), they're going to have to start pitching better to compensate.
The good news is that they added Wandy Rodriguez, which makes the staff better. The bad news is that James McDonald has looked terrible recently. He walked seven in his start yesterday and doesn't seem to be anything close to the Cy Young contender he was in the first half. He could certainly bounce back, I honestly expect him to, but it remains a red flag.
The rotation is deep with Kevin Correia still around, but he's grumpy and asking for a trade, so you can't have too much faith in him. Jeff Locke has been very good all season in AAA, and he might have to make a few starts up in the big leagues if this bad news continues to come through.
Things could be different on Wednesday if the Pirates add an outfielder, but for now things are looking a bit bleak. Even if they don't make a move, there's a good chance the Pirates will go into Wrigley and pound the Cubs three times then go win a series in Cincinnati and I'll probably be feeling pretty good about this team. Things can change in a hurry, but as we sit right now I'm apprehensive to say the least.
I always say life is too short to worry about tomorrow. That's an excellent philosophy to have this year with the Pirates. No matter what happens the rest of the season, it's going to be fun to watch meaningful baseball in August. Enjoy it, just don't go out and put any big bets on the Pirates winning the World Series.