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Pirates pros and cons...

April 7, 2011 - Ray Eckenrode

3 reasons to think the Pirates might overachieve this year:

RAY SEARAGE: Emphasizing arm slot and pitching to contact, Searage has dramatically improved the Pirates starting pitching since taking over late last season as pitching coach. If the starting pitching continues to be dramatically better than expected, the Pirates will be dramatically better than expected.

NEIL WALKER: Even after a fantastic rookie run, there was still a ton of debate entering this season about just what kind of Major Leaguer Walker will be. He’s responded so far with an MVP-type start. And with every big hit he gets, a little more doubt fades away.

NEW ATTITUDE: John Russell might have been the smartest guy in baseball. He might have deeply cared about winning or losing. But we’ll never know because of his monotone, cliché-driven interviews and the fact that he sat on the bench like a bump on a log night after night after night. In one week, Clint Hurdle has made it clear that he’s expecting a higher standard and going to hold players accountable to it.

3 reasons to think the first week has been a mirage:

DEFENSE: There have been times already this season where it’s looked like the Pirates have four future DHs (Doumit, Alvarez, Walker, Overbay) in the infield. In the outfield, we’ve seen throws going to the wrong base or over the cutoff man’s head several times, as well. Eventually, that catches up with you.

RONNY CEDENO: Cedeno is clearly not an everyday shortstop (he has 25th-man, utility infielder-type ability). He’s prone to defensive lapses and his long swing makes him susceptible to long periods of zero productivity out of the No. 8 hole.

NOT ENOUGH POP: With very few RBIs coming from Cedeno, Jose Tabata and Chris Snyder and not enough coming from the right-field platoon, there’s a ton of run-producing pressure on journeyman Lyle Overbay and still green Pedro Alvarez and that’s not a good situation to be in.

NFL in court

The amount of misinformation and disinformation surrounding the ongoing NFL labor dispute court case is mind boggling. Rather than try to refute or correct it all, we’ll just repeat what we’ve told you before:

> If Judge Nelson rules in favor of the NFL, the players will appeal, the lockout will continue and it’s very unlikely there will be serious (note the term “serious”) talks again until September. The owners will stall that long because that’s when players will begin missing checks.

> If Judge Nelson rules in favor of the players, the owners will appeal, the lockout will end and there’s a distinct possibility the two sides will agree to move forward with the 2011 season without a CBA and under the same terms as the 2010 season.

The judge's ruling is expected in late April or early May.

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