The Pirates have overcame a whole lot this season and a lot of outsiders and even new fans may not realize it. A lot of it has been injuries but there has also been some poor play.
Catcher: The Pirates top 3 catchers, Snyder, Doumit and Jaramillo have all missed a good bit of the season due to injury. The Pirates 4th string catcher Dusty Brown was just plain awful in his time in the majors, not only struggling with hitting but simply catching the ball. Toregas, the 5th string catcher, had limited time but has also missed a good bit of time due to injuries. The 6th string catcher and catcher of the future Tony Sanchez has had an awful year and in the eyes of many has fallen from top prospect status. The Pirates have actually been forced to use their 7th string catcher, Eric Fryer. In addition to Fryer they acquired Michael McKenry.
1st Base: In an attempt to solidify the position the Pirates signed Lyle Overbay but the signing proved to be a complete bust as Overbay didn’t hit and didn’t show the defense ability he was said to possess. To try and patch up this hole the Pirates traded for Derrek Lee who after a very short time ended up breaking his hand and ending up on the DL. To fill this hole the Pirates took their opening day starting RF and put him there.
2nd Base: This has been one of the good positions although Walker has shown some inconsistency. Thankfully injuries have played a very minor role.
3rd Base: Alvarez was supposed to be a fixture here but due to injury and poor play he has been anything but. The first attempt to replace was Steve Pearce but he too suffered an injury and has spent a large portion of the season on the DL. The Pirates have since been trying to fill the position with their top SS prospect, d’Arnaud, a waiver claim, Brandon Wood and a player who was considered a fringe prospect, Harrison.
Shortstop: Going into this season this was considered the Pirates weakest position. It has actually received some consistent albeit below average play. Cedeno did suffer an injury but it was minor and he was only out a short time. The Pirates have had a major issue with the backup SS position though. Josh Rodriguez started the year but was waived to make room for Brandon Wood. Pedro Ciriaco has been on and off the roster several times and d’Arnaud has held the role as well.
Left Field: For a while this position stayed healthy but it didn’t last. The Pirates lost their starting LF, Tabata, replaced him with Presley who subsequently got injured so to fill the hole the Pirates traded for another LF, Ludwick who you guessed it got injured. Xavier Paul, a waiver claim has also been forced to fill in.
Center Field: Not every position has had problems.
Right Field: The platoon of Jones and Diaz has failed to produce as expected. Diaz has hit lefties decently as late but has not shown any power. Jones has been up and down all season and has now been forced to 1B. Xaiver Paul has also gotten plenty of playing time RF. Currently the Pirates are playing their original LF in RF.
Rotation: There is a belief that the Pirates were rather lucky here until recently, that is simply not true. James McDonald missed most of Spring Training and had to have his first turn in the rotation pushed back due to injury. This may sound minor but it caused him to use April as his Spring Training so essentially he missed the first month. Scott Olsen was considered the favorite to win the 5th starters job but he has yet to pitch because of injury. Ross Ohelndorf the 3rd starter missed most of the season due to injury. Brad Lincoln the 7th starter was injured at the start of the year and was unavailable to replace Ohlendorf meaning Karstens the 8th starter had to. In addition to the early season injuries Maholm and Correia have recently went down forcing Ohlendorf, Lincoln and Thompson to make starts.
Bullpen: The bullpen has actually been fairly healthy with two notable exceptions. Joe Beimel the top lefty in the bullpen missed the start of the year due to injury and later landed on the DL. The second is Evan Meek who has missed the majority of the season. His presence has been sorely missed in the 8th inning. The only other issues have been some minor injuries to the likes of Crotta and Leroux.
Its been a painful year for the Pirates in nearly every area. Hopefully 2012 brings us a healthier year. The Pirates have currently used 48 players. With September call ups likely the number could easily surpass 50.