Saturday, January 27, 2007

New Improved Pirates Lineup Still Has Ways to Go

Even with all the giddiness about the new, improved Pirates lineup -- with newly acquired slugger Adam LaRoche joining former top rookie Jason Bay and 2006 batting champ Freddy Sanchez -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Bob Smizik warns not to start ordering World Series tickets quite yet.

Sure, Smizik likes the new lineup, but he points out that you don't have to go all the way back to the days of Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla to find a better one.

In 2003 the Pirates trotted out -- in order -- Kenny Lofton, fourth in the league in stolen bases; Jason Kendall, hitting .325 from the catcher's spot; Brian Giles, slugging .521 with four minimum 30-homer seasons under his belt; Aramis Ramirez, enroute to a second, consecutive 100-RBI season; and Reggie Sanders, homering 20 times in only 305 at-bats.

And what was the 2003 murderers' row record? Try 75-87.

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