March 2012

Good feelings getting easier

Same old Pirates.

Unlucky old Pirates.

Poor old Pirates.

Last week, the Pittsburgh baseball club caught a bit of bad fortune when its prized offseason possession caught some rawhide off the eye.

Already tabbed to be the Opening Day starter for the Bucs, A.J. Burnett won’t be making his black and gold debut until at least late May/early June as he recovers from his orbital fracture.

What else could go wrong?

Frankly, nothing. For the Pirates, it was more about what could go right.

Andrew McCutchen helped everybody forget about losing one star by assuring that another is sticking around for a while.

The 25-year old superstar also help put to bed some scrutiny that the Bucco brass has built up over the years. Many fans thought this day would never come, some thought it, but never really held out hope. Cutch is secure, Cutch is home and he is going to be a Pittsburgh Pirate until 2018.

As risky as it is for a franchise like the Pirates to lock up a player for a long time, they did it the smart way.

Jason Kendall, Brian Giles and even a guy named Pat Mears were in this situation, too. They were promising players who got thrown a lot of money and never really produced. Through injury and lack of production, they never really quite lived to their billing and, frankly, weren’t worth the payroll.

It’s easy to say that McCutchen will be different, but the only guarantee is the $52 million he will accrue.

What does separate him, though, from the lackluster “stars” of the early-2000’s is that he signed at a bargain.

McCutchen is just entering into the prime of his career. He may not light the world on fire to be a .300/30/100 player year in and year out, but he’ll come close. He is highly regarded as a top-5 centerfielder in the big leagues and is developing into a true 5-tool guy with his speed, bat and skills in the field. McCutchen provides a sense of reliability and assurance because he has been the face of the organization and will continue to be for at least the next six years. Also, as Pittsburgh isn’t the most lucrative location for top-flight free agents, the signing proves to doubting players that the Buccos mean business. A new wave is coming in and behind it is a committment to winning. If nothing else, it should at least ensure players give the Pirates a second look.

I guess what he does best is give the faithful a pretty good feeling…

And things are still getting easier.

Spring Training has come, baseball talk is in the air and my Pirates season tickets are in hand.


Maybe it was in honor of his extension which was signed the day before because Cutch’s smiling face is planted on the Opening Day ticket.

Which, by the way, is just 26 days away.

If that doesn’t give you a good feeling, I don’t know what will.

Photo/video credits: rantsports.com, espn.com, yahoo.com, youtube.com (via NASHCENTER), captainsblog.info.

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