I had suggested elsewhere that, despite my many grumblings about the bad, small decisions that the FO (maybe with Hurdle's input) has made this Spring, I still predict the Pirates will post a record of 84-78 this year (or, even better, 84-77, with the bold/funny prediction that someone else made re: a rain-out on the last day).
To counter my disdain for a variety of small moves - Inge, Gomez, Harrison, McDonald being on the team (and to a lesser extent, Sanchez), in lieu of DeJesus, Mercer (and to a lesser extent, Pie), even the completely wasted ABs on Brad Hawpe - I was asked to suggest how I got there.
So, I guess this is how my ideal season would roll, down a path to 84 wins:
- In the first 60 days or so, each of the small, bad decisions are forcibly unwound (based on performance); Inge released (traded if you're an optimist), Harrison is back at Indy on one of his two remaining options, and McDonald is traded (maybe to Tigers for a low prospect). Recall DeJesus and Mercer. Bucs also sign released Yankees 3B prospect David Adams, assign to Indy
- 30 days in, Francisco Liriano is slotted in as the 4th starter, JSanchez or Locke slides to #5, or Indy, pending Locke v Sanchez performance. Karstens is back, to bullpen/spot start role, Gomez treated and released :-). Jose Contreras is healthy/ready, possibly pushing Leroux to Indy (pending performance)
- 60 days in, Morton comes off of DL and starts in Indy, Locke back to #5. JSanchez is traded to the Marlins, along with Clint Robinson and Josh Harrison, for Logan Morrison (or they all go/stay down and we save that deal for the deadline)
- 85-ish days in, Gerrit Cole comes up as #3 starter (on the road, against Mariners, then pitches the 1st game of the Phillies home stand 5 days later, breaking two attendance records - largest Tuesday night crowd ever at PNC Park, and first time ever that there are more black-and-gold jerseys than red jerseys at a Pirates-Phillies game at PNC Park) and Locke or JMac go down, pending performance
- 120 days in - by trade deadline* - Clint Barmes, Jeff Karstens, Chris Leroux to the Indians for Asdrubal Cabrera, McPherson called up. Also, Jose Tabata and Lucas May to Orioles for prospect(s), Sands called up; and Garrett Jones to Twins (after they trade Morneau) for 2B prospect Eddie Rosario, Morrison called up (or the Morrison trade just waits for deadline)
- September - call up Taillon, Black, Irwin, Pimentel, TSanchez, Pie, Adams. AJ announces he WILL retire at end of season, but stay in some capacity with org. Team inspired accordingly in stretch run to send AJ out on a high note
- End of season - Wandy exercises option for 2014. Fanbase basks in glow of winning season. Adult men and women weep openly, teenagers look up briefly from playing "MLB 2013: The Show" to say, 'cool', and small children ask if the Pens or Steelers are on the other channel, unaware that there was a professional baseball team in Pittsburgh - this, too, shall pass when the Bucs make the playoffs in 2014.
- *Simplified Plan B - all trade deadline deals above are called off in lieu of crazy-ass deal previously proposed by me in these pages (over the holidays, YE 2012), to send many players/prospects (Polanco, Barnes, Herrera, Locke, Black, Snider and/or Tabata, and, um cancel Taillon's Sept. call-up) for Ricky Nolasco and, um, Giancarlo Stanton
- See.......easy. :-)
(for Headley :-)
Let's Go Bucs!!!!!