Author Topic: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates  (Read 696 times)

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The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Topic Start: May 01, 2010, 07:26:02 AM »
Some of us recently were discussing the Pirates and how we either dislike how much they are losing, don't care or love how they are bottom feeders. Whatever your viewpoint, I thought this was an interesting article that sort of gives the current state of the Pittsburgh team.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/paul_daugherty/04/29/pirates/index.html

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have been historically bad for 17 seasons and are primed to add to their legacy this year. They're at the bottom of the National League Central once again and last week, the Milwaukee Brewers outscored them 36-1 in three games in Pittsburgh, then came back four days later and blasted them 17-3 in one game in Milwaukee.

In the seven days between April 20 and 26, the Pirates were outscored 72-12. Not by the Yankees, or even the Jets, but by the Brewers and the Houston Astros. This isn't Major League Baseball in any way, except embarrassment.

Break up the Pirates.

No, really. Dismantle them player by player. Melt them down. Paperweights and doorstops for everyone.

Actually, the Pirates have some salvageable parts. A Zach Duke here, a Paul Maholm there. Ryan Doumit and Andrew McCutcheon would be welcome on almost any Major League roster. The rest? No disrespect, but you really have to work at losing 72-12 in one week. Name five Pirates, win fabulous prizes.

Why isn't more made of this?

I ask this as a Pirates fan, old enough to have watched the Great One, Roberto Clemente, at Forbes Field and to have shed actual tears after World Series Game 7s in 1971 and 1979. The worst moment of my sports-scribing career came in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in 1992, when -- for reasons that elude me to this day -- Sid Bream scored from second base on a hard single to left field, allowing the Braves to beat the Buccos in Game 7 of the NLCS.

Bream ran like Captain Ahab. Barry Bonds fielded the ball cleanly and made a good throw to the plate: A couple bounces, just up the baseline. Mike LaValliere handled the throw and applied the tag, just like you draw it up. Bream scored anyway, and that was that. In that instant, the Pirates ceased being the Pirates, and became the AAAA team we endure now.

Bud Selig frequently expresses a desire that every team have hope on Opening Day. Hope isn't a word I'd use to describe the Buccos in the last 18 years. Why doesn't some other team's owner -- say, some small-money owner who argues for greater sharing of revenues -- call the Pirates out?

Pittsburgh's Opening Day major league payroll was $39 million. The Pirates raked in far more than that without ever selling a ticket or a hot dog or leasing a luxury suite at the very attractive and taxpayer-funded PNC Park. I asked club president Frank Coonelly how much more. He declined to say.

As a model, let's use the Cincinnati Reds. Between revenue sharing money, money from Baseball's Central Fund, their share of MLB Properties revenues and local TV and radio dollars, the Reds took in about $70 million last year. Coonelly said the Pirates' local media dollars were less than Cincinnati's. But their take from revenue sharing was more.

It's not unrealistic to suggest Pittsburgh's haul was slightly more than the Reds' $70 million. Where'd it go?

Every time the Pirates throw out that Quad-A lineup, more wind leaves the sails of the Have Nots' boat. If you are a small-market/money operation, Pittsburgh torpedoes your desire for baseball to become a more extensive corporate welfare club, like the NFL.

Coonelly says the Pirates spend "far, far more on players'' than what they get in shared revenue. He doesn't count the generous allotment from the Central Fund. Or anything else listed above.

Coonelly says his Pirates are paying big money for high draft picks. They've tripled the money they spend in Latin America. He also says, "It's a very exciting time to be a fan in Pittsburgh. I think we have a chance to compete for the NL Central championship.''

I grab my Clemente 21 jersey and lie down in a cool place.

"The history the last 17 years is regrettable and an embarrassment to the city,'' Coonelly offers, after some prodding. Well, yeah. "But I can only justify what's happened since September 2007,'' when Coonelly left the Commissioner's office to became president of the club.

I ask him what a ball club's responsibility is to its fans and how the Pirates are meeting that responsibility. Seems like a fair question for a team that's been playing its fans for years, while buying them off with fireworks and bobbleheads If you're a Pirates fan and not a clinically diagnosed masochist, why? Loyalty? Optimism, self-loathing, postgame fireworks? What is your reasoning and why isn't someone busting you upside your head?

"Our obligation to the fans is to do everything in our power to put a winning team on the field,'' says Coonelly. "Some have questioned our plan, but they can't question our motivations."

OK, but 17 seasons of bad, plus one week of 72-12 from hell, could equal cynicism, Frank. "We're not going to panic because of one bad week,'' says Coonelly.

One bad week?

"It was painful and in fact embarrassing to the organization,'' says Coonelly. "But it was a week. Seven games.''

In the meantime, the Pirates will build for a future that never arrives, or at least never has. They will sell their product with fireworks -- eight big shows this year! -- and giveaways. Endure the game, stay for the George Thorogood concert. And until baseball makes its teams plow all their welfare bucks back into players, not much will change.

Seven games?

If only, Frank. If only.

Offline Minty Fresh

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #1: May 03, 2010, 02:52:43 PM »
I like it.  Someone needs to call them out.  Sid Bream ripped my heart out (the Pirates were my NL team in those days along with the Dodgers).

This is a proud organization (one of the longest tenured teams in baseball history) and it's sad to see them this bad for this long.

Offline Minty Fresh

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #2: May 03, 2010, 02:58:08 PM »
This reminded me to post this I received in my e-mail during spring training.  I kept this along with the letter the Nats wrote after the Strasburg signing.

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The following is an excerpt from an open letter to Pirates fans from club president Frank Coonelly.



Dear Pirates Fan,

As we begin the 2010 offseason, I would like to take this opportunity to let you know how grateful we are that you continued to show your passion through some very difficult decisions to accelerate the overhaul of the organization during the 2009 season. Like you, we are extremely disappointed with the performance of our Major League Club. But, for the reasons illustrated in The Pirates Blueprint, we are just as encouraged about direction of the organization and its future.

As we have said from the beginning, we are not interested in being just an average Major League Club. Our unwillingness to accept mediocrity has caused you additional aggravation over the short term. We regret that this was necessary but you deserve much more than a mediocre team. In the fine tradition of this city, you deserve a team that competes for championships. The bold steps taken this year, I hope, have demonstrated that our only interest is in giving you that type of team again.

I cannot emphasize enough the appreciation we have for your continued support of the Pittsburgh Pirates. We understand that we have tested your patience but hope you understand that we have done so in order to make the blueprint for success in Pittsburgh a reality and to do so as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

 

Frank Coonelly
President, Pittsburgh Pirates 

Offline KnorrForYourMoney

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #3: May 03, 2010, 03:02:19 PM »
They're not willing to be an average big league club.  They want to be great!  That's why they acquired people like Lastings Milledge, Jeff Clement, and Ronny Cedeno - those guys have such bright futures in the big leagues. :crazy:

Man, this is so sad to see.  Honestly, I said I wanted them to fail and I sort of do (I definitely do this year), but part of me does wish for the Pirates and Royals to get better some day.  These are two proud franchises with so much history (especially the Pirates), and this is where they've fallen.

I really wish the Royals would stop being so incompetent, though.  Even though I have other AL teams I like more right now (Tampa, Detroit, Seattle), I have an affection for that franchise.  There's a history on my mom's side of the family of Royals fandom.

Offline PatsNats28

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #4: May 04, 2010, 07:54:40 PM »
I've always liked the Pirates since they were my first Little League team (at least that I can remember).

Online houston-nat

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #5: May 05, 2010, 11:18:49 PM »
I've always liked the Pirates since they were my first Little League team (at least that I can remember).

My first little league team was the McDonalds. Guess who our sponsor was.

Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #6: May 06, 2010, 11:14:39 AM »
My first little league team was the McDonalds. Guess who our sponsor was.

Five Guys?

Offline Ali the Baseball Cat

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #7: May 06, 2010, 11:23:05 AM »
My first little league team was the "Incremin Ironmen"...Incremin made chewable iron supplements for kids in Asia.  I have no idea why they sponsored a baseball team, since no expat kids were allowed to use their product (parents generally viewed locally produced vitamins as being one step removed from rat poison) and the Thai kids had no clue how to play baseball.  

I would have loved to play for a team with a stud name like "the Pirates"  :rofl:

Online Vega

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #8: May 09, 2010, 11:42:51 PM »
Doumit, Maholm, Duke, Iwamura, Church, Cedeno, Crosby, Dotel, and a couple of their veteran relievers will probably be moved by the deadline. Hopefully, they'll be able to get a few good prospects from all of those guys.

Offline spidernat

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #9: May 10, 2010, 08:50:46 AM »
I'm sure we have a few here who will be drooling to get Church back.  :lmao:

Offline JMW IV

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #10: May 10, 2010, 04:32:31 PM »
I'm sure we have one single solitary turtle with a everlasting mancrush here who will be drooling to get Church back.  :lmao:

fixed

Offline GMUNat

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #11: May 10, 2010, 05:19:54 PM »
I want Church back. He got a raw deal in Washington (and New York). I want the team to make up for the injustice he had to face.

Offline tomterp

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #12: May 10, 2010, 05:46:34 PM »
I'm sure we have a few here who will be drooling to get Church back.  :lmao:

Church is a beast!       :az:

Online Vega

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #13: May 11, 2010, 12:19:35 AM »
At least the other two horrid teams (Astros and Orioles.) have some decent players to trade for prospects. The Pirates, however, have somehow managed to field an entire team of retreads and AAAAers who have almost no trade value. It's quite remarkable, really.

Offline soxfan59

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #14: May 11, 2010, 07:59:58 AM »
At least the other two horrid teams (Astros and Orioles.) have some decent players to trade for prospects. The Pirates, however, have somehow managed to field an entire team of retreads and AAAAers who have almost no trade value. It's quite remarkable, really.

Yet, the Pirates swept the Cubs.

Offline HalfSmokes

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #15: May 11, 2010, 01:12:23 PM »
At least the other two horrid teams (Astros and Orioles.) have some decent players to trade for prospects. The Pirates, however, have somehow managed to field an entire team of retreads and AAAAers who have almost no trade value. It's quite remarkable, really.

The Astros have better players, but they have horrid contracts and no-trade clauses that would make them luckey to get anything in return. They also have no prospects. The Pirates are starting to get a core together, I would say they are where we were two years ago. Alvarez will be there this year and Tabata is tearing it up in the minors now. They have no real rotation, but they will have high enough draft picks to change that, and they are just as capable of dumpster diving as we are.

Online Vega

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #16: May 12, 2010, 12:40:55 AM »
The Astros have better players, but they have horrid contracts and no-trade clauses that would make them luckey to get anything in return. They also have no prospects. The Pirates are starting to get a core together, I would say they are where we were two years ago. Alvarez will be there this year and Tabata is tearing it up in the minors now. They have no real rotation, but they will have high enough draft picks to change that, and they are just as capable of dumpster diving as we are.
True. If I'm remembering right, the 'Stros have the worst farm system in the majors, according to some experts. Their main problem is that their GM can't seem to get it through his head that this Astros team is far past it's expiration date and needs to be rebuilt. It's like he thinks that a Brett Meyers here and a Pedro Feliz there will make them contenders. Idiot.

Online houston-nat

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Re: The State Of The Pittsburgh Pirates
« Reply #17: May 12, 2010, 12:28:38 PM »
True. If I'm remembering right, the 'Stros have the worst farm system in the majors, according to some experts. Their main problem is that their GM can't seem to get it through his head that this Astros team is far past it's expiration date and needs to be rebuilt. It's like he thinks that a Brett Meyers here and a Pedro Feliz there will make them contenders. Idiot.

If you asked me which Nationals farmhands have a 20% or higher chance of reaching the majors some day, I would probably list Strasburg, Storen, Espinosa, Burgess, Marrero, Kobernus, Meyers, Eury Perez, ... and so on. I don't know how long the list would be.

Now compare that to this.

Houston-Nat's Comprehensive Guide to Astros Prospects with at Least a 20% Chance of Reaching the Major Leagues
1. Jason Castro. Projects to be an MLB-average catcher, possibly above average at the plate. Currently batting .244 at AAA, but with a .381 OBP. 23 years old.
2. Yorman Bazardo. Relief pitcher. 2009 major league stats: 7.99 ERA, 22 BB, 17 K. 25 years old.
3. Polin Trinidad. Starting pitcher at AAA doesn't project to be anything particularly special, but his 2.94 ERA at AA last year was the lowest in the Astros' minor league system. By a lot. Last year between two levels of minor-league ball, a 112/35 K/BB.
4. Koby Clemens. Son of THAT guy. AA first baseman who hit 22 home runs last year and already has 9 this year. Has shown flashes of brilliance but not consistency.
5. Jordan Lyles. AA starting pitcher who has 31 Ks in 35 IP - at age 19. One of just two Astros, along with Castro, to make the Baseball America top 100 prospects.

That's it. Now, on the other hand, if you have ever wondered what happened to Gustavo Chacin, Roy Corcoran (11.12 ERA for the 2006 Nationals), Chris Shelton, or Gary Majewski, well, they're all playing for the AAA Round Rock Express.