Welcome back, Dejan Kovacevic. DK writes:
This is how they will set up, in order, for the Pirates' first two series: Duke, Snell and Gorzelanny will pitch in Houston. Maholm, Duke and Armas will pitch in Cincinnati. And Snell will have the home opener April 9 against St. Louis.
Tracy said Gorzelanny was moved ahead of Maholm because he matches up better with Houston. Gorzelanny is 0-3 with a 5.19 ERA against the Astros, Maholm 1-2 with a 6.53 ERA."
The first sixteen games of the season will go a long way toward setting the tone for the 2007 season. If the Pirates start out 10-6, they can play .450 ball for a month and folks will still be moderately satisfied. If they start out 0-6 or, God help us, 5-11, then we're going to be pissed if Gorzelanny lost two or three of those games pitching like the non-beer-drinking self we've seen this month.
Bob Walk went on and on at the end of the broadcast how there's never an open competition for anything going into Spring Training, how year after year teams say this, how year after year they more or less bring the team they decided they would bring in mid-February. We'll see what happens.
Once a year the Pirates have a chance to establish themselves as a competitive ball club. The only sign that a team is competitive is the standings. Once a team falls six or ten games below .500, they are deluding themselves if they think they are regarded as a competitive team. The Pirates screwed up 2006 with the 0-6 and 30-60 (!!) start. They have been kidding themselves, or simply selling tickets, when they talk like the .501 second half did anything to improve their reputation nationally.
So here's to hoping they bring their very best for the first half of April. It's important if this team wants to establish some credibility as a competitive ballclub.