The YES Network's Steven Goldman takes a look at the Pirates. Goldman is one of my favorite writers. Here he goes position by position through the Pirates' lineup, and while a lot of what you'll read won't surprise you, there are some interesting bits here.
-On Rob Mackowiak: "Of the entire population of major league players, probably the player most exceeding himself."
Wow. Actually, I'll take Brian Roberts here.
Roberts 2005: .434/.612/1.046
Mackowiak 2005: .418/.515/.932
On the pitching side, there's:
Kenny Rogers (2.02 ERA in 2005 vs. 4.20 career)
Glendon Rusch (2.57 ERA vs. 4.80 career, although Rusch was also good in 2004, so maybe the Cubs have figured him out).
There's also Victor Santos, Brett Myers, Brian Moehler and our friend Mark Redman as the biggest overachievers among starters. Among relievers, there's the usual cast of thousands who are having the best 25 innings of their lives (including Pete Walker, Todd Jones, Arthur Rhodes, Cliff Politte, and others).
I'm not sure if Mackowiak is the big-league player who's furthest over his head. But he is way over his head.
-Goldman repeatedly points out that the most important difference between the Pirates and Yankees is that the Pirates' lineup is composed mainly of players who will have value in the future. This is, of course, true, but as he later points out, "The only real keeper is [Jason] Bay." The Pirates have a young lineup, but not one that should be confused with the foundation of a playoff contender. The Pirates are another star or two away from that, but it's unclear where that star or two will come from, since the Littlefield Pirates have mostly attempted to draft and develop the sorts of players who might one day turn out to be a lot like the role players - the Josh Foggs and Ty Wiggintons and Tike Redmans - they already have.