Ready to ‘Buc’ the Trend?
Training has its typical topics. Over the last few springs, there’s been the
A-Rod/Jeter coverage, Barry Bonds chase of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run
record and of course, the endless comparisons between the Yankees and Red Sox.
for some reason, there’s only one team on my mind, haunting my baseball dreams,
banishing the usual Spring Training fodder into the background.
quirky, ill-conceived reason, I have a funny feeling about a franchise that
hasn’t enjoyed a winning season or qualified for the playoffs since winning the
division under Jim Leyland in 1992 – nearly 15 years ago!
crazy, delusional or illogical, but something tells me this may be the year
finally ‘Bucs’ the trend.
fantasy standpoint, there are a number of bargains sporting yellow and black in
2007. Not only is the team generally cast aside in fantasy wasteland, creating
good buying opportunity, there’s also a young foundation in place.
starters, I confess to having a completely functional, heterosexual “man-crush”
on rotation ace Ian Snell, who won 14 games and struck out almost as many
batters as innings pitched while demonstrating advanced control all in his
first full season last year. Plus, not many fantasy owners take pride in owning
a guy named Ian Snell. I have no studies to support such an outlandish claim,
other than to say that last names which remind competitors of a harmless,
slithering animal tend not to draw as much fanfare as ones such as Escobar,
Mussina or Burnett. Laugh all you want, but there’s truth to the theory.
of the Pirates’ rotation has potential, too, with rising lefties Zach Duke, Tom
Gorzellany, Paul Maholm and potential offseason steal — relative to the gold
diggers’ spending market — in right-hander Tony Armas.
their position players are unusually appealing. Leading the way, of course, is
underappreciated right fielder
produced All-Star numbers over the last few seasons despite a complete lack of
offensive protection. With the acquisition of budding 27-year-old first baseman
Adam LaRoche, however, Bay’s days of feeling lucky to see a strike appear all
but over. With both Bay and LaRoche coming off 30-homer seasons, might one —
or both — finally become the first player(s) in franchise history to reach 40
jacks? It’s certainly within reason.
there’s the little-known, speedy center fielder Chris Duffy. Under the radar,
Duffy quite possibly had the best comeback story of 2006. Batting just .194
through mid-May, he was sent down to the Minors. The only problem was, he
didn’t report until almost 1 ½ months later for personal reasons. During
Duffy’s self-imposed exile, many speculated that he had lost the desire to
play. He would later rise from the ashes and lead all National Leaguers with 23
steals over the final two months of the season.
it’s third baseman Freddy Sanchez, reliever Matt Capps, the solid yet
unspectacular Xavier Nady or the team’s extremely underrated defense (I know,
referring to defense violates some sort of fantasy supreme court amendment),
Pirates fans have reason to feel hopeful for the first time in a long time.
<i>– Alex Cushing, MLB.com Fantasy 411 crew</i>