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Giants/Pirates Series Preview

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Ain't no facepalm like a Pirates facepalm, 'cause a Pirates facepalm don't stop.
Ain't no facepalm like a Pirates facepalm, 'cause a Pirates facepalm don't stop.
Golden State Warriorsitis: n. -- A malady that involves having a putrid franchise for an extended period of time while simultaneously avoiding franchise players with numerous high draft picks.

When the Spurs have the first overall pick in the NBA draft, Tim Duncan or David Robinson are available. When the Warriors have the first overall pick, Joe Smith is available.

If your eyes glazed over once you realized I was writing about basketball, hold on. I’m going somewhere with this. The Pirates would be offended if you suggested that they suffer from Warriorsitis, but only because they probably think it’s an affliction that should be named after the Pirates. When the Mariners have the first overall pick in the MLB amateur draft, they get Ken Griffey, Jr. or Alex Rodriguez. When the Pirates have the first pick, they get Kris Benson or Bryan Bullington. That’s just how things have worked. And when the can’t-miss prospects come through the draft – Justin Upton or Stephen Strasburg, for example – the Pirates aren’t picking first that year.

So when a franchise suffers from this horrible, tragic malady, the last thing they need to do is compound the problem by being both cheap and dim. This was what the pre-Neal Huntington Pirates were doing when they would draft Daniel Moskos instead of Matt Weiters, or trade Jason Schmidt for sacks of torn ligaments. It was poor luck combined with poor planning and poor execution. It’s how a team goes 18 seasons without cracking .500.

Maybe this is just the wonderful, wonderful ether talking, but I’m thinking the horror will end soon for the Pirates. Pedro Alvarez might be the franchise hitter they’ve been avoiding for so many years. Andrew McCutchen looks like he’ll be a fixture in center for a while. Tony Sanchez is hitting far better than a lot of draftniks expected, and the Pirates are also doing that weird thing where they "praise" his defense behind the plate instead of cattily swiping at it. Prospects are prospects, but there’s a fair chance that the 2011 Pirates will have a pretty good head start on the offense.

The pitching prospects aren’t quite as encouraging, but maybe they’ll have a busted-up second baseman to trade soon, which is always a fine way to add depth.

It might be Voglesong-related guilt, but I’m pulling for the Pirates. Just not this week.

Hitter to watch

Someday I’ll stop complaining about the Giants’ refusal to hop on the toolsy young centerfield bandwagon, but it’d sure be nice if they had their own Colby Rasmus, Cameron Maybin, Chris Young, Jordan Schafer, Matt Kemp, or Dexter Fowler. Maybe that day will be when I realize that a few of those players probably aren’t going to amount to a whole lot, but until then, my jealousy will smolder. Andrew McCutchen is one of my favorite players to watch in the game – he’s a fast, zippy, waterbug kind of player with excellent defense and moderate power. I think he should be on the Giants, and I’m writing a letter to the proper authorities to see if there’s anything they can do to make things right.

Pitcher to watch

The three pitchers the Pirates are throwing against the Giants – Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, and Charlie Morton – aren’t strikeout pitchers. No, they rely on guile and the foolishness of opposing batters. Obviously, they all terrify me for that reason, just as Kenshin Kawakami did. Kawakami threw seven pitches over six innings last night, and he almost got away with it. At least one of these three pitchers will do the same to the Giants. Hopefully, Zito, Cain, or Sanchez will be able to counter with something comparable on the same day.

Prediction

Neither Tim Alderson nor Freddy Sanchez will make the other team look bad this series. Probably not the following series, either. Maybe the series after that, in 2011? Oh, it’s on.