Thursday, July 30, 2009

Giving up the ghost

Steelers open camp Friday.
That is good news for the Pirates organization, which hoisted the white flag on the season Wednesday by trading away shortstop Jack Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez. The purge is probably complete as eight starters (not including pitchers) from the opening day lineup are gone.
These last moves assured a 17th consecutive losing season, the longest for any North American professional sports organization in history.
Well, at lest the Pirates are No. 1 in something.
The trades have left the Pirates in shambles. It is an awful team, maybe even worse the the Washington Nationals. I didn't think that was possible. It's difficult to lose 100 games in a major league season but the Pirates now have the pieces in place to do so.
Maybe you can defend these moves as a way to build a winner, except the Pirates are incredibly inept at developing talent. Quick, name one player this organization has drafted and developed into a star, or even a top-notch major leaguer.
Can't do it, can you?
So it's easy to see why Pirates fans have little or no faith in this organization's ability to build a quality team. It's a reputation that has been earned.
Just look at pitcher Ian Snell, a 20th-round selection who appeared to be the exception to this organization's dismal ability to handle players. He is in Seattle now, dumped there after a tumultuous year.
Why should Pittsburgh fans believe it will be any different with the players the Pirates received in return for this summer selloff?
Last season's trades of Jason Bay and Xavier Nady brought new faces, but none of them shows star potential. And some, such as outfielder Brandon Moss, are apalling inept. Even the success stories from those deals - pitchers Ross Ohlendorf and Charlie Morton, and third baseman Andy LaRoche - are no more than above-average players.
The Pirates have insured a losing season for this and most likely the next three seasons. Their payroll, post trades, is just above $30 million so there is money available for free agent signings.
But who would want to play here?
The remainder of this season will be depressingly similary to next, and maybe the next, a continual string of losing that might be stopped if the organization can develop talent.
General manager Neal Huntington is gambling his job that these moves will turn the team around. If he is right, then he will be considered a hero in the eyes of long-suffering fans.
If he fails, then the next five-year plan will go into place with a new general manager. It's the Pirates' way.


  1. Joe-

    Do you really think the Pirates had a shot at a winning season with Wilson & Sanchez? They have been the middle infield of the worst franchise in history! Don't get upset because they gave away a couple of hometown heroes. if you are going to rebuild, rebuild the whole damn thing! Give it to 2012 to turn around under this regime.

    The Ghost of Dave Parker

  2. Come on Joe. Where the hell were the going with the current roster? Nowhere.
    At least the current management is stockpiling youngsters instead of signing has-beens to fill out the major league roster. That had been the case for most of the previous GMs. Can't get good when you're going out and signing five Matt Stairs to start every year.
    By the way, how're your Indians looking about now?
    They're doing basically the same thing the Pirates are - dump, dump, dump.
    It's a Major League Baseball problem, not a Pittsburgh problem.

  3. Oh no! We've now traded John Grabow and Tommy Gorzelanny for 3 prospects!!! That is what a true YINZER is thinking just about now.Neal Huntingdon definitely has a big, sweaty set of balls! I give that little red-headed stepchild a lot of credit for what he is doing. Totally changing the culture of the whole freakin' farm system. Great job, Neal.

    The Ghost Of Jim Bibby

  4. I couldn't possibly disagree more. This blog post sounded like the typical Johhny Raincloud yinzer called on Mark Madden's show. The Bucs have acquired real talent and top notch prospects. That hasn't happened since 1993. Way to go Neal. What a fantastic week for the Bucs and the future of baseball in Pittsburgh!

  5. Go through enough of these demolitions and you tend to see a pattern. How many 5-year plans are there now? Eight? You stop believing after a while. And the team just become irrelevant.

    You think they got "real talent" in these deals? How do you know? You can't tell me that any one of the players acquired in these deals are going to turn this franchise around. No one can. It's just a guess.

    Maybe Huntington is right, and this is a great day for Pirates' baseball. Who can tell right now?

    What I do know is this: This upheavel means the Pirates won't be competitve for at least three more seasons. And 100 losses are not out of the question for next year.

    How can anyone be excited about that?