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The beginning of something big?

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SOUTH HILLS – While Opening Day was about as perfect as you could hope for from a Pirates’ perspective, this weekend series is really the fist intriguing must-see, match-up of the season. And what a way to start with two of the game’s best young right-handers in Shelby Miller and Gerrit Cole facing off. (Hopefully the weather cooperates.)

Last year  the Pirates took the season series 10 game to nine vs. the Cardinals, and then pushed the Cardinals to the brink of elimination in the NLDS. Was a meaningful rivalry was born then? 

I don’t see these teams going anywhere.

Consider the Cardinals have the fourth youngest Opening Day roster in baseball ( 27.4 years) and  still have the No. 7 farm system , according to Baseball America, despite graduating talents like Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez last season. We still haven’t seen the Cardinals’ most valuable asset in Oscar Taveras.

The Pirates have the game’s 11th youngest roster (28.3 years) but are soon to be stronger, and younger, thanks to the game’s No. 1 farm system, per Baseball America. See you in June, Gregory.

On a whole the NL Central appears to be on the brink of becoming a much tougher neighborhood as it’s the youngest division in baseball.  The Central has five teams among the 12 youngest in baseball, which no other division can match.

 

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS 

OPENING DAY AGE

MLB RANK/TEAM/AVERAGE AGE

4. Cardinals      27.3

6. Cubs                28.0

10. Reds              28.2

11. Pirates          28.3

12. Milwaukee 28.4

 

And the division has the most talent in the minor league pipeline …

BASEBALL PROSPECTUS ORGANIZATIONAL TALENT RANKINGS

MLB RANK/ TEAMS

2.  Cubs

3.  Pirates

6.  Cardinals

16. Reds

29. Brewers

(OK, the Brewers aren’t in great shape … and Ryan Braun’s thumb issues put the Brewers in an even scarier position position )

 

So not only is the division the youngest this Opening Day after having sent three teams to the postseason in 2013 — but arguably no other division has more elite minor league talent on the horizon.  On the whole this is staggering combination of youth and talent.

We know about the quality of the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds. The Cubs have an unreal collection of elite position prospects in the minors and have the money to bolster their staff through free agency. A decade of competitive baseball and meaningful rivalries in the poorest division in the NL? It’s more than possible it’s quite plausible.

It started last season and it begins again tonight.

- TS

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Comments

  1. Nate83 says:

    Just imagine when they remove Liriano, Martin, Wandy and Grilli from the team after this year. They will become even younger very quickly. That doesn’t come without having to replace all those valuable players but if they are able to replace them with Tony Sanchez, Taillon and Kingham and those players play well they are in a great position going forward.

  2. T.S. says:

    As long as grumpy Hurdle doesn’t have Gaby Sanchez try to sac bunt again with the game on the line….

  3. Andrew says:

    Given the economics of baseball I cannot complain about the division too much, let’s hope the Pirates do a better job of turning the #1 farm system into major league success, unlike the Royals, the Pirates junior circuit brothers in prolonged ineptitude.

  4. Nate83 says:

    Gabby lost all that weight this off season. How do you know he wasn’t bunting for a base hit :)

  5. MorselPix says:

    Not sure I can buy into this optimism, Travis. AL teams will tend to be older because of the DH haven. And since we don’t compete with AL teams much, the more interesting rankings would be age and talent within the NL. I wonder how the Bucs and the NL Central look within that group of 15.

  6. Nate83 says:

    To bad for Braun there isn’t a steroid for thumb pain. I think Moises Alou has a treatment for hands he can share with Braun. I hope he can play against the Pirates. I’m not a fan of booing anybody but that is one guy I’m looking forward to hearing the Pirate fans boo.

  7. Bizrow says:

    Anything going on with Vin trade wise?

  8. Nate83 says:

    No news on him or Taillon’s injury. They have 4 or 5 days on Vin.

  9. Jeff B. says:

    Not sure what to think on the Taillon situation. If he got good news on Monday, why wouldn’t they have made it public? I’m REALLY hoping he’s ok, but I’m nervous.

  10. Wide Receiver Nate,

    Removing Buc’s #1 Starter, Buc’s #1 catcher, Buc’s #1 experienced starter (& a lefty in PNC), and Buc’s #1 Closer doesn’t make me excited about being “Young.”

    It has me imagining 2nd division and below .500.

  11. FlBucco says:

    Gaby’s bunt was on him – his idea…

  12. FlBucco says:

    The longer we go not hearing the more likely he is headed for TJ surgery…

    Might as well get it over – we have that secret weapon Volquez to cover for him….

  13. Brandon says:

    The potential success of the youth and farm system will only be translated to major league W’s if the owner can sign the key talents to deals buying out their late 20′s (projected peak years) and the starting pitching develops/stays healthy. Otherwise, you need to be very skilled/lucky to get low/mid priced free agents to fill in the roster gaps as we did with Martin & Liriano….puts a lot of pressure on the Best Managent in MLB given their apparent disinterest in offering contracts approaching $100M. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.

  14. Brandie says:

    If last night was an indicator, the NL Central will be the place to be for quite some time.

  15. Pig Legs Robinson says:

    If there is any time for Taillon to have TJ surgery, it is now. They have ample pitching in the majors and minors to offset his loss. By the time he would be back, they wouldn’t miss a beat, and Taillon would be stronger than ever. I think the worst thing they can do is wait it out all season to see if it improves without surgery.

    On another front, Brian Morris has really improved and the more I see him the more I think “future closer material”.

  16. Leo Walter says:

    I think you need a different perspective on MLB in the mid 2000′s.

  17. Leo Walter says:

    Morris ” future closer material “? I would agree with that
    PLR. Maybe not the velocity of Kimberly, but lots of life on both his 2 & 4 seam fastballs.

  18. Leo Walter says:

    That was supposed to say Kimbro,certainly not ” Kimberly ” !

  19. bpn8pitt says:

    Yanks are probably in the 1b market now.

  20. Tell that to the Houston Astros!

  21. Steelkings says:

    SK’s Starting 9

    UP 1st:

    The Indianapolis Indians have played 3 games in the early going. Andrew Lambo has only played in one of those. He started at 1st and went 0 for 4 with three K’s.

    2 Hole:

    The right fielder who would soon be anointed king, is 3 for 10 with a pair of RBI’s. He biggest contribution so far is a seed like one hopper to the plate to nail what would have been the game winner for Columbus in the opener.

    3 spot:

    Pirates RISP: 0-5 (N Walker 0-1, T Snider 0-2, R Martin 0-1, S Marte 0-1) That right there my friends, tells the story of this offense.

    4 spot:

    After the Last Liriano outing, I was told Liriano was not lucky to get out of two situations where he followed a lead off hit with a walk, In fact he was just that good, and thats how he worked out of it.
    We its becoming a bit of a troubling trend when you follow a lead off hit with a walk for the 3rd time in 12 innings. I give you the 1st inning last night:

    Francisco Liriano pitching for Pittsburgh:
    M Carpenter singled to center.
    J Peralta walked, M Carpenter to second.
    M Holliday singled to center, M Carpenter scored, J Peralta to third.
    A Craig hit sacrifice fly to right, J Peralta scored.
    Y Molina singled to right, M Holliday to third.
    M Adams singled to center, M Holliday scored, Y Molina to third.
    P Bourjos flied out to center.
    K Wong grounded out to pitcher.

    Batting 5th:

    Players of Interest:
    James Loney – 4/15 1 extra base hit – no Hr’s
    Garrett Jones 5/22 1 extra base hit – no Hr’s
    Justin Morneau 7/21 1 extra base hit – no Hr’s
    Marlon Byrd 5/21 1 HR
    Mike Carp – battling a lower back injury

    Batting 6th:

    Just because its funny: Billy Hamilton 0/12 and hasnt started the last two games due to a finger issue was caught stealing in a pinch running stolen base attempt. 0 for 12 and 0 for 1.

    Batting 7th:

    Charlie Morton may turn out to be the best all around pitcher on this staff.

    Batting 8th:

    First evidence that Neil Huntington is moon lighting on the job with the Pittsburgh Pirates:

    “Darrius Heyward-Bey, Signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers is a former No. 1 pick of the Oakland Raiders with size and speed, but has never fulfilled his promise.

    Last up:

    Big game for the Pirates today, and bigger for Edison Volquez.

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