Charlie Wilmoth is the manager over at Bucs Dugout, a sports blog for SB Nation that covers the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mark Travis: Let’s start with predictions. I have the Pirates at 59 wins, how many do you see them winning?
Charlie Wilmoth: Well, the last time a team won as few as 59 was 2005, so I think that seems overly pessimistic. I’ll say 65.
MT: Do you think that Nate McLouth can become a consistent 25/25 guy?
CW: Probably not, because I think he’s unlikely to consistently match the 26 homers he hit last year. I think he could easily steal 25 bases, or even 35 or 40, if he wanted to, but he’d get caught more often. Personally, I’m happy with 20 if it means he rarely gets caught.
MT: Is there anyone that the Pirates will consider dealing at the trade deadline to get more prospects? Maybe Adam LaRoche or Freddy Sanchez?
CW: LaRoche and Sanchez are both likely to be gone next year, so yes, I think the Pirates will consider dealing them. John Grabow and Jack Wilson are also possibilities. LaRoche and Grabow are free agents after 2009, and Sanchez and Wilson have options that the Pirates are unlikely to exercise. (Sanchez’s vests automatically if he stays healthy and collects plate appearances the entire year, which I don’t think will happen.)
MT: What prospect is the Pirates ace of the future? Is it Brad Lincoln?
CW: It’s Hurler McHasntbeendraftedyet. The Pirates have a few high-upside hitting prospects. Pitching prospects, not so much. Lincoln and Bryan Morris do have solid upside, but they’re both a long way from fulfilling it.
MT: Give me a Pirates player who doesn’t get a lot of attention or someone you think will have a breakout season.
CW: PECOTA thinks Brandon Moss actually has a decent shot at a breakout. He’s probably just a fourth outfielder, but his top comparable in that system is Curtis Granderson. Ross Ohlendorf is also an interesting choice because his stuff is so good. Andy LaRoche is another possibility. Overall, though, I wouldn’t say this year’s Pirates are loaded with players primed for breakouts.
MT: Is Andrew McCutchen the best athlete in the history of the Pirates organization? How good do you think he will be in the coming years?
CW:What a wild question! I’d have to say no. Nyjer Morgan is a pretty amazing athlete–and a former high-level hockey player–who just happens to be bad at baseball. Former NFL quarterback Akili Smith used to play in the Pirates’ farm system. So did current Padres pitcher Chris Young, who was offered a contract by the Sacramento Kings. Kenny Lofton was a great athlete, although he’d lost a step by the time he joined the Bucs. Barry Bonds, Vic Janowicz, Roberto Clemente, and Jose Lind all come to mind, too, and I’m sure you could make a case for many others as well.