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Know your enemy: Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Bucs had a quiet winter.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Which would you say is the biggest Pirates move from this offseason?

  • Trading Ivan Nova to the White Sox
  • Signing Lonnie Chisenhall as a free agent
  • Re-signing Jung Ho Kang as a free agent
  • Signing Francisco Liriano as a free agent

Francisco Liriano! Yeah, you remember his 16-8, 3.02 ERA, 3.2 bWAR year for the Pirates, right? In 2013, that was.

So they’re putting the band back together, what with that and the re-signing of Kang, who was cleared to play again in the USA after his drunk driving conviction in Korea. Kang actually played in three games for the Pirates late last year. But he will be 32 just after Opening Day, and who knows whether he can replicate the success he had in Pittsburgh in 2015 and 2016.

Otherwise there has been very little change to the Pirates team that contended briefly last summer and finished 82-79, their first winning season since 2015, when they won 98 games and lost the wild-card game to the Cubs. You’ll never get tired of watching this, I’m sure. [VIDEO]

That was then and this is now and the Pirates look like a .500 ballclub again to me; they haven’t made any big rock-the-boat changes. They did lose Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer to free agency, and traded Austin Meadows to the Rays last July for Chris Archer. Archer was supposed to help lead the Bucs to a spot in the wild-card game, but he was decidedly mediocre for Pittsburgh after the deal. It makes one wonder if Archer’s peak has passed. Jameson Taillon is the “ace” now, and he has yet to prove he can do that on a consistent basis.

The N.L. Central will be a tough division this year. The Pirates could finish last.

The Cubs will host the Pirates for the first Wrigley Field series of 2019, April 8-10-11, and also July 12-13-14 and September 13-14-15. They’ll travel to Pittsburgh July 1-2-3-4, August 16-17-18 and September 24-25-26.