Pirates Q&A With Lab Experiment Gone Wrong Anthrax Jones

Every so often we like to check in with our favorite Pittsburgh resident, or maybe we just say that because we’re afraid of him, Anthrax Jones to talk about the Pirates. He’s always so sunny and cheerful about them. Follow him on Twitter @AnthraxJones.

So how much does the Marte suspension really hurt? Austin Meadows is really struggling in Triple-A. Can he save them? Is there another way?

It hurts. For a team as dependent on walking a defensive tightrope as the Budget Bucs, losing a premiere defensive centerfielder for any amount of time is a killer. Austin Meadows is still a year or two away from being an everyday player, so it’s Polanco/McCutchen and a rotating cast of characters that they pulled from Hollywood Squares. In fact, Charles Nelson Reilly started in right field today. And as much as Andrew “Thousand Yard Stare” McCutchen believes he’s still a premiere defensive centerfielder, for all the chest-pounding and screaming about THIS IS MY SPOT… he’s a liability. Also, McCutchen spiked Marte’s powerade with steroids. I can’t prove that, and made that up. But can you imagine if he did?

Wasn’t this team always going to go as far as Cole, Taillon, and Glasnow take them anyway?

I wouldn’t even have Glasnow in this discussion. It’s Cole and Taillon, and hoping to god Ivan Nova is better than Ivan Nova. Glasnow wouldn’t have even made this rotation if they had a viable fifth starter. Drew Hutchinson was supposed to be that viable fifth starter, and then the Pirates discovered that Drew Hutchinson is a wacky-waving-flailing-arms-inflatable-tubeman, except less reliable. Glasnow is still as raw as tartare and from the looks of it may be ready to fill a top three spot in a major league rotation sometime during the first Chelsea Clinton presidential term.

Josh Bell has gotten off to a slow start, but he murdered the minors the past two years. What should the expectations be for him?

I’ll be interested to see the adjustments Josh Bell makes to the adjustments major league pitchers have made to him. He has a terrific eye for balls and strikes, and he seems to be a pretty cerebral player. I’m not gonna overreact to any struggles he has this year, because frankly it’s not gonna matter anyway, and I think he’s gonna end up being a guy who consistently hits .300+ with some power when he is seasoned enough to be too expensive for the Pirates to keep. I feel acid rising in my throat.

The Bucs have gotten good work from Nicasio, Hudson, Rivero, and Watson in the pen. Can they hold up over the entire season?

I’m extremely skeptical of this bullpen. People keep saying it’s potentially the strength of this team, and if it is, it’s damned by faint praise. I think Rivero will be the closer by June, and Watson will be gone by the trade deadline. Nicasio and Hudson are what they are: serviceable middle relievers who will go through spells where they have a gas can sitting next to them on the mound. Rivero will be one of the more fun players to watch though, because his arm is a snapped electrical wire. I’d be terrified getting in the box against him.

We said this was a wild card team before the season. Can they still be?

Where can I get some of whatever you guys were drinking when you said that? The only way that was happening is if the Cardinals inexplicably shit themselves to a 75ish win season, and the rest of the division was historically bad. This is a 75-79 win team at best, and with Marte out for half the season, I can be talked down to 72-75. That’s what Bob Nutting is willing to pay for, and that’s what the fans of this city will get. The window is closed.

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