The pitching was a disaster again. The free agent signing of Del Hernandez was expected to strengthen and nurture the young pitching staff but Del quickly fell into the same funk that has plagued all Pittsburgh pitchers throughout time. The best starter on the team was not Hernandez (7-10, 4.12 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) but arguably the 23-year-old Rule 5 pick Vin Franco. He had a 3.90 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP and lost 6 out of 6 games (That’s right, the Studdabubba’s best starter won 0 games). He probably could have lost even more games if he wasn’t injured for the first three quarters of the season.
The other free agents (Buzz Abernathy, Alberto Cordero, Fernando Hernandez) were stop-gap players and they hardly accomplished that. Buzz Abernathy hit .280 and hit 21 HRs and, sadly, was the Studdabubba’s best slugger (.454).
After a horrible start where he was benched for a few games, Nate Girardi somehow got his average up to .291 but only got 77 RBIs batting 3rd and 4th—easily his worst production of his career. Nate is in the last year of his contract and will likely look for a new team.
If we needed to choose a S18 MVP, it would have to be 35-year-old set-up man, Darryl Ogea. He had a WHIP of 1.12 and went 7-3 on a team that only won 55 games. Ogea probably isn’t quite ready to retire and Pittsburgh would be stupid to let any competent pitcher go but will Ogea want to stay?
There may be some hope in Pittsburgh, though. The ‘Bubba’s AAA team is in the World Series and has 3 or 4 position players who will likely get called-up at the beginning of next season:
1B - Matt Buchanan - He was a first round pick in S16 and will be 22-years-old next season. Matt has been demolishing Minor League pitching hitting 33, 46, and 47 home runs in the last 3 seasons. He is the main reason Nate Girardi may not be a Studdabubba next season.
2B - Tim Dresden - Dresden will battle Duffy Strong for the 2b starting spot but, since he can play many positions, he will likely be called-up even if he doesn’t beat-out Strong. Dresdon was a S15 compensatory pick.
SS - Pablo Andino - Coming to the Studdabubbas in S16 as a compensatory pick, Pablo isn’t exactly ripping up the minors but, with the Studdabubbas weakness at SS, Andino will probably be asked to replace Wilton Martin as backup SS or even start if the ‘Bubbas don’t resign Wascar Blanco.
RF - Hong-Gu Suh - An International signing in S15, Suh probably still needs another year in the minors but may get the call if there is an injury or more benchings.
Needless to say, there aren’t any blue-chip pitchers who are likely to make a mark in the Majors any time soon. Ronny Boyd is probably closest but he’s probably a S20 hopeful. Cole Rossy may also get a shot but that’s mostly due to the lousy shape the the ML bullpen is currently in.