Aug 022009
World Series Trophy

I have a question for all the Pittsburgh Pirates fans who have gone apoplectic during this most recent roster purge – what else do you want? What alternative are you looking for?

Even with the most productive outfield in baseball last season including a surprising campaign from Nate McLouth, even with a recent batting champion in Freddy Sanchez and a rock solid defensive shortstop in Jack Wilson, the Pirates went 67-95. Prior to the start of this fire sale, there were two possible courses of action – keep the batting lineup intact and try to build the pitching up quickly through free agency. Or tear it all down. Completely.

I don’t understand how we as fans can get attached to any players on a team that pretty much stunk anyway. I do have my doubts as to owner Bob Nutting’s commitment to winning but I think that critique is separate from a critique of the plan, which is the same as any small-market franchise must undertake. Build up the farm system, draft solid, develop prospects. Sure we’ve heard this song and dance before but what’s the alternative?

A picture of Lastings Milledge

OF Lastings Milledge

Barring abandoning the team, a Pirates fan has no choice but to stomach another rebuilding job. It’s sickening that we have to endure another one; that all the others have been so unsuccessful. However, I don’t believe that voting disapproval with one’s wallet is an effective strategy. With a decrease in ticket sales and thus less revenue, ownership would simply lower payroll even further and still pocket profits from revenue sharing.

I’m not willing to declare any belief that this particular rebuilding plan will work when all the others haven’t worked. But it’s still the right way to go about business. Tear down the half-assed incarnation of the last rebuilding job, build organizational depth, develop players. And with all the recent criticism (however deserved) and declarations from fans that the franchise doesn’t deserve our support, I find myself becoming somewhat defiant.

Someday, we will all bear witness to the rebirth of one of the great franchises in Major League Baseball. Remember where you were and what attitude you took during this trying time. LET’S GO BUCS!

Photo Credit: AP

Jul 312009

The Pittsburgh Pirates have completed a huge purge of the vast majority of their roster since Neal Huntington took over leadership of the franchise a few years ago. They’ve traded a large number of serviceable major leaguers including the likes of Jason Bay, Nate McLouth and Jack Wilson.

All these trades have provoked a huge amount of outrage among the Pirates’ fanbase. (Yes, there still is a fanbase). I think most fans would have preferred to keep that lineup largely intact and then perhaps raise the bar on the pitching staff by going after some free agents. Wishful thinking. Free agents wouldn’t want to come to the Pirates right now.

Andrew McCutcheon (pic)

The alternative is to develop great pitching. But by the time the pitching could catch up, the offense would have started to go down. It’s a half-assed approach. You either spend more to bring the pitching staff up to par quickly, which won’t happen, or you tear it all down. In almost all the recent trades, Pirates GM Neal Huntington has gone after pitching, pitching and more pitching.

The Pirates went 67-95 playing a large part of the last season with the most productive outfield in baseball. There was solid, if unspectacular play, from the likes of Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez. But whither the pitching.

Now I have my doubts as to whether Pirates owner Bob Nutting will pony up the money to keep a developing team together if recent drafts and trades start to pan out as we all hope. But the plan itself is solid. Some fans may have been content for the team to make a run at .500 this year, which may have been doable with the collection of players that came out of spring training. But in the City of Champions, we cannot accept anything less than a team that wants to win titles. We don’t do Loveable Losers.