With opening day nearly upon us, I thought I should make a few predictions for the upcoming season. So here we go:
- There will be no fire sale. Xavier Nady, Chris Duffy and Damaso Marte will be dealt at the deadline for prospects, but the majority of the team will remain intact heading into the offseason. Nady and Duffy will bring little of interest in return, while a contender will give up a decent prospect for Marte.
- Jose Bautista will start the season on a tear. After posting an OPS over .900 in April, he will totally lose his stroke. With his numbers plummeting, the Pirates recall Neil Walker in July and give him the starting spot at third. Walker hits .283/.343/.457 over the final two months, locking up third base for 2009. Bautista settles comfortably into a utility role.
- Tom Gorzelanny will pitch inconsistently through May. After allowing five runs in four innings against the Diamondbacks on June 6, he is placed on the disabled list with elbow tendonitis. He returns in late August and pitches well down the stretch.
- At some point, Matt Capps will go more than one month without a save opportunity.
- Zach Duke will rebound nicely, posting 11 wins and an ERA of 4.05. His K/9 will rise above five for the first time since 2005, increasing hope for the future of the rotation.
- The Pirates will use a successful platoon of Ryan Doumit and Ronny Paulino behind the plate. In September, Andrew McCutchen will join the team and begin platooning with Nate McLouth in center.
- The teamís best month will be September, when they are far from contention. With a lineup consisting of McLouth/McCutchen, Sanchez, Bay, LaRoche, Pearce, Walker, Doumit/Paulino, Wilson, the team scores the most September runs in Major League Baseball. With a 19-7 finish, the Bucs end up at 79-83, good for third place in the division.