Posts Tagged ‘Adam LaRoche’

Please Stick To Misinformedly Ripping On Your Own Teams, New York Columnists

January 19, 2010

It’s been a while since a big-market baseball columnist patronizingly attempted to martyr himself to the plight of us unwashed smalltown folk, so let’s take a minute out of our opposite-of-busy day to comment on the remarks of one Bill Madden of the New York Daily News in his column, “Bug Selig targets small-market teams to spend ” (SIC).

Take it away, Mr. Madden:

In the meantime, the union is far from done pushing this revenue-sharing issue. Next up: the Pirates, who have been the most blatant team of all when it comes to pocketing their revenue sharing, trading off all their highest-paid players and creating a mausoleum of their beautiful taxpayer-funded new park.

Ballpark is nice, Pirates suck — not much here we haven’t heard before. Though for the record, both the Yankees’ and Mets’ stadiums were taxpayer-funded too, and the Mets are receiving roughly 800 skillion dollars from Citi for their ballpark even though Citi was lining employees up against brick walls and Tommy-gunning them to death a year ago, plus the Mets were terrible last year, but golly gee, they spent, so it’s fine.

The Pirates, who have had 17 consecutive losing seasons, have ranked in the bottom four of payroll the last six years.

The Marlins have been below them every year in that span. It’s nit-picky, but that means that the Pirates factually are not the most blatant team about pocketing their revenue sharing money. You’re gonna go back and tweak that previous comment now because of the facts that you yourself brought up, right? You can leave “mausoleum,” it’s a cool word.

Last year, they began the season ranked 28th of 30 teams with a payroll of $48 million but finished at around $25 million after trading off shortstop Jack Wilson, outfielder Nate McLouth, first baseman Adam LaRoche, second baseman Freddy Sanchez and pitchers Ian Snell and John Grabow for a bunch of minimum salary unproven prospects.

Two problems here:

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Just When You Thought The Pirates Columns Couldn’t Get Worse, Jay Mariotti Joins The Fray

August 3, 2009

I thought no pandering Pirates piece would ever top the uninformed vague-anger that was last week’s P-G editorial, but once again, I have underestimated Fanhouse’s Jay Mariotti. The following column is absolutely unbelievable, in every possible sense of the word (except any connotations of smartness).

Selig Must Investigate ‘Quittsburgh’ Mess



Pace yourself, people, it’s gonna be a long one.

The other night in Pittsburgh, where the city really is named after William Pitt and not its pits-of-the-world baseball franchise…

Ohhhh…snap? I think?

…a phenom named Andrew McCutchen hit three home runs… It’s the sort of drop-dead brilliance envisioned when they summoned the dreadlocked stud from the minors in June.

“Summoned the dreadlocked stud” makes it sound like Neal Huntington was some sort of wizard conjuring up a mythical beast from another dimension. Maybe a slightly dramatic way of saying “Called up the prospect…”

Yet rather than quiver in anticipation, fans of this ballclub — assuming any are left — sit paralyzed in fear.

Oh crap – we do?

Because when it comes time to reward McCutchen with a contract commensurate to his abilities and numbers, or when it’s clear the Pirates still can’t win even with his everyday presence, won’t management coldly turn around and trade him away? Just as the Pirates did with Morgan, Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Ian Snell, Xavier Nady, Jose Bautista, Ronny Paulino, John Grabow and, dating back to earlier this decade, the likes of Aramis Ramirez, Jason Schmidt and Brian Giles?

Wowowowow, we’re off to a terrifically insane start. Let’s try to digest this paragraph of random names.

I was unaware that the trades of Nyjer Morgan, Ian Snell, Jose Bautista, and Ronny Paulino were all salary dumps. I mean, the Pirates were crazy to let building blocks like Jose Bautista slip away, but I’m pretty sure most of those dudes were pretty crappy.

Great point about Brian Giles, though — as soon as he got good, the Pirates’ cheap, short-sighted management had the audacity to sign him to a 5-year, $45 million extension. Wait, what? Ok, fine, so they signed Giles, but then they COLDLY TRADED HIM AWAY!!! …For Jason Bay and Oliver Perez. And Bay immediately began outperforming Giles, who was clearly past his prime. NOTE TO MARIOTTI: Leave all of this out of a column ripping on Pirates management, because it is a complete counterexample to the point you are trying to make.

Aramis Ramirez was a straight-up salary dump, no one’s arguing that. And this detail affects Neal Huntington…how, exactly? Also, note that Mariotti shamelessly engages in my new favorite Pirate-column cop-out: Lumping the Xavier Nady trade in there with all the other moves, even though he’s played seven games this year and is a free agent in two months, and thus is a stellar example of the Pirates’ current strategy working.

No reason to get too angry yet, plenty more insanity yet to come…

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This Pirates Editorial Makes Me Sad For Humanity

August 1, 2009

Oh Lord. Brace yourself, people, cause here comes the most ham-handed, uninformed, vaguely angry piece of Pirate fan-pandering in the illustrious history of ham-handed, uninformed, vaguely angry Pirates columns:

Waiting game: For loyal Pirates fans, the present never comes

Now that most of the Pirates’ starting lineup has left PNC Park, can the team’s dispirited fan base be far behind? That’s the question that didn’t seem to faze the Bob Nutting ownership regime as it dismantled first the outfield, then the infield of an entire team of popular players.

I can’t believe they traded away all these “popular players” like Ian Snell, Tom Gorzellany, Adam LaRoche, Xavier Nady, and John Grabow. My 5-year-old son was a HUGE John Grabow fan! He’s right handed but forces himself to throw lefty to be like his hero, “J-Grabes,” and always used to say “when I grow up, I’m gonna make so many appearances against lefties in the 7th inning then stay in the game against a couple righties cause Tyler Yates is so unreliable!” How can you expect me to explain this trade to my son?? What’s he going to do with his John Grabow effigy now?

These guys were so popular, you could nary walk down a block of Forbes Avenue without drowning in a sea of Ian Snell jerseys. Sadly, there’s no way fans will ever come to embrace guys like Jeff Clement with the same amount of deep, unique intimacy as they once loved Tom “Fanfave” Gorzellany. Having players who some fans like is the way to win in sports.

Also, I still can’t believe they dismantled the GOEA (Greatest Outfield Ever Assembled). There’s no telling how far ahead in the division they’d be if they still had Xavier Nady (a million billion games, give or take).

Sure, as the front office likes to cite, this collection of players — for as popular and accomplished as some of them are — was not able to keep the team near a .500 winning percentage.

Ok, I GUESS they never came close to competing, and MLB players decline in their 30s almost without exception, but we can argue semantics all day.

Also, when did these players become so “popular”? Other than Wilson, Sanchez and Bay, does any fan give a crap about any of those other dudes? I won’t argue that the players were extremely “accomplished,” though — Adam LaRoche won the Congressional Medal of Honor for greatness.

But it seems clear that around June 2008, the ownership had two choices on how to rebuild this team: spend money to buy impact players to fill in the gaps around its proven stars or trade away its players of value for inexpensive prospects who, on a hope and a prayer, might peak together around 2011 as a competitive force.

I would rather take a Jeromy Burnitz upper-cut whiff to the groin than re-read this paragraph. “Buy impact players”?? Like who? Name some guys. Who on this list would’ve made the Pirates anywhere close to competitive?

Signing Gil Meche sure turned those Royals around in a hurry, didn’t it? And I can’t keep track of how many World Series the Mariners have won since signing Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre, then trading Adam Jones for a broken-down Erik Bedard. Name some examples of teams that were bad, then signed unrestricted free agents, then were good. The Yankees, maybe? That’s the only team in baseball over the last, say, five years who have succeeded with that approach, and if your argument is that the Pirates would have improved if they had signed C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira for $400 million, then yes, I will not argue that point.

Also, “proven stars”?? That’s a joke, right? You know what other teams in baseball have proven stars? EVERY OTHER TEAM IN BASEBALL, because by definition every team must have an All-Star. Other than Bay, and kind-of Sanchez, the Pirates never had anything remotely resembling a proven “star,” and do we again need to be reminded about the 2008 pitching staff that this team inherited from the Littlefield era? You really believe the Pirates could’ve made a run with Matt Morris and Phil Dumatrait leading the charge?

How do people just completely ignore the history of Burnitz, Morris, Joe Randa, Sean Casey, Pat Meares, Derek Bell, Terry Mulholland, Pete Schourek, and the Jason Kendall & Brian Giles contracts? I feel like I’m watching the Michael Jackson Memorial and everyone’s talking about how everyone should strive to be as flawless as MJ was – surely Pirates fans don’t forget this stuff, right?

Other owners may have opted for the former and embarked on a quick turnaround that would have built on the loyalty to high-performing players and put more fans in the ballpark to cheer on the team’s new winning ways.

cathy2

This sentence is beyond nonsense. Why didn’t the Pirates lock up all their thirtysomething players who couldn’t come close to even nipping the .500 mark, then add A.J. Burnett for $73 gajillion dollars who wouldn’t have signed in Pittsburgh anyway, then watch as their really expensive team declines in unison with a completely barren minor league system behind it?? At least Nutting would’ve been spending MONEY!!!! Grrrr why doesn’t he spend money!!!!!!! That is the only issue here!!!

We won’t argue that every player just traded away will be missed; Adam LaRoche and Ian Snell were clearly under-performers. Nor will we claim that all of that young, incoming talent is unimpressive; Class AA pitcher Tim Alderson was hard for Giants fans to sacrifice.

Quit getting bogged down in these trivial details and continue bashing Nutting because that is what us fans want to hear!!!! Rabble rabble rabble rabble!!

But of all the stats swirling around all the players in the blow-up of the Pittsburgh Pirates, these are the two worth keeping in mind: 31 and 50. The Nutting payroll for a Major League Baseball team was a little more than $50 million on opening day; after all the trades it’s down to $31 million. Mission accomplished.

Boom! Proven. No other factors here. The fact that the Pirates need minor league prospects and those prospects cost less than players in their 30s is irrelevant; Nutting is just pocketing money indiscriminately like his hero, the theoretical demon spawn of Ebenezer Scrooge and Bernie Madoff.

Here are two OTHER numbers to keep in mind: 0 and 3. Those are the number of black starting position players on the Pirates last year versus the number in the lineup last night. Clearly, Nutting has a conspiracy to get more black players on the team. Citing a number and then another number and not explaining them is how making an argument works.

That’s not what Pittsburghers did when they committed to PNC Park. They built the best in the majors, figuring they’d finally get a great team out of the deal. We’re still waiting.

You hear that, Huntington? It’s been A YEAR AND A HALF and you STILL haven’t turned the team with the worst pitching staff in Major League Baseball and worst minor league system in Major League Baseball and a couple decent offensive performers, two of whom were on the verge of unrestricted free agency, into a great franchise. WHY DIDN’T YOU SIGN SOME GOD DAMNED FREE AGENTS??? That would have made everything great!!!

If the Pirates don’t sign Chone Figgins to a 6-year, $92 million deal next offseason, Bud Selig ought to step in and just bulldoze PNC Park. That is how building a baseball team is done!!!!!

YARRRRRs And Ends (That Means Pirate Odds And Ends)

July 23, 2009

– Was Brandon Moss whimpering after his walk-off homer against Milwaukee?

Moss Face

– A stellar comment on the PBC Blog post about no cash being included in the LaRoche trade:

WhyStanBelinda wrote re: No cash included in LaRoche trade

Neil should be banned from trading with the Red Sox by Selig.  You are not getting good value from them.  I’m not saying Jed Lowie [SIC], but Lars Anderson would have looked nice.  They have Kotsay spot starting.

“Look, I’m not saying the Red Sox were gonna give up Jed Lowrie, a solid middle infield prospect, for two months of Adam LaRoche. All I’m saying is, they might have given up their TOP PROSPECT IN THEIR ENITRE SYSTEM for two months of Adam LaRoche. Hunnington u r so gay!!!!!”

Bob Smizik’s Blog offers a well-deserved nod to the Pirates’ improved pitching depth this season. Try to read this paragraph without wincing:

In 2008, John Van Benschoten, Yoslan Herrera and Matt Morris all got five starts for the Pirates. Jimmy Barthmaier got three. Their earned run averages for the season, respectively, were: 10.48, 9.85, 9.87 and 9.85. That’s the house that Littlefield built.

Ahhhh!!! Can we please never speak of the ’08 pitching staff ever again? I feel like those numbers just undid my entire offseason of psychological counseling. Thanks!

– Pat From WHYGAVS posits reasons why the Pirates might be shaving payroll this season. Obviously, anything is speculative without seeing a team’s books, which are undisclosed, but the reasoning appears sound.

– And some good news, the Pirates signed 7th round draft pick Trent Stevenson, one of their supposed higher-upside, above-slot type selections. Several Bucs Dugout commenters have floated the theory that the timing of the signing might be a ploy by the front office to retain some positive press in the wake of the LaRoche trade, but…is any actual Pirate fan upset about the LaRoche trade?

LaRoche Trade Another Excuse To Dust Off The Easy “Disband The Pirates” Jokes

July 23, 2009

Deadspin’s Dashiell Bennett, on the Adam LaRoche deal:

And the poor Pirates. This is the fifth regular starter they’ve traded in the last year and their double play combo of Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez is not far behind. Do they even qualify as a baseball team anymore? They only exist to fill in as the rainy-day backup plan for real teams that are actually trying to win. They should either be disbanded or sold to Mark Cuban, because I’m not sure how much self-destruction one fan base can take.

I realize the tone of the paragraph is intentionally exaggerated, but I feel like any mention of the Pirates from any non-Pittsburgh source — be they other newspapers, other media outlets, opposing announcers, etc. — immediately jumps to these vague pot-shots about what a joke the franchise is and how they’re not even trying to win.

Right this minute, the Pirates have a better record than Washington, Arizona, San Diego, Oakland, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Baltimore. In addition to those teams, they also have a better run differential than Seattle, Florida, Houston, Cincinnati, and the Mets. Essentially, they are performing better or at least comparably to almost half the teams in Major League Baseball; granted, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll compete any time in the immediate future, but it definitely doesn’t mean they’re some crazy, out-of-whack joke organization that ought to be quarantined into its own category of futility away from every other “Trying To Win” franchise in Baseball (like the Nationals).

The Pirates currently have a -7 run differential. One year ago at this time, the Pirates’ run differential was -78, and that was with four healthy months of the Bay/Nady/McLouth GOEA (Gretest Outfield Ever Assembled). Even if we completely ignore the Pirates’ bolstered minor league depth in the past 12 months, their major league ballclub is performing 71 runs better than they were one year ago at this time. That number isn’t the be-all and end-all of statistical information, but does that not, by definition, mean that Neal Huntington is trying to improve this team?

No, they’re just a bunch of blind money whores who hate winning and fans and freedom, I know, I know. Fair enough. I thought I had a point for a second.

Red Sox Acquire Adam LaRoche, Fill Apparent Need For Tall Frustrating Dude

July 23, 2009

The Pirates dealt Adam LaRoche to the Boston Red Sox for 22-year-old AA shortstop Argenis Diaz and 20-year-old single-A RHP Hunter Strickland. The Pirates also receive the added bonus of not having to pay the remaining $3 mil on LaRoche’s contract this season, and the added added bonus of not having to start Adam LaRoche ever again.

LaRoche’s April struggles in ’07 and ’08 led to a more dubious fan reputation than he probably deserved (he hit a mathematically impossible negative a million homers in April ’08), which wasn’t helped by fans’ initial enthusiasm for his arrival coming off a 32-homer career year in Atlanta, but LaRoche was still never better than an average offensive first baseman in Pittsburgh and frequently less than average, and with his UFA offseason pending, a move seemed pretty inevitable. Over the past four weeks, LaRoche has really been putting the cover back onto the ball, posting a pitcher-like .185 / .214 / .272, 1 HR in 84 PA, which should be the perfect spoonful of sugar to help fans swallow this trade without a problem, as if they would’ve had a problem to begin with.

Diaz and Strickland were ranked the #29 and #38 prospects in the Boston farm system according to SoxProspects.com, which may or may not be reliable but has a really cool layout, so I trust it. Both project as fringe major leaguers at best, Diaz being a fieldy, no-hit shortstop and Strickland a big, possible backend rotation guy with a low-90s heater, but combined with the $3 mil in LaRoche savings, the added playing time for Jones / Young / Pearce / Moss / Milledge, and me never again having to root for LaRoche to strike out with men on base so we avoid a double play, I have no problems with this trade.

Also, I know the budgets are “totally separate,” but with yet another $3 mil shaved off the already-paltry major league payroll, the Bucs are gonna look reeeeeally bad if they don’t sign Miguel Sano and some of these higher-upside draft picks in the next month.

And for an added laugh, check out the list of Pirates home run leaders without Adam LaRoche. Hehehe.

Why Jack Wilson Is Stupid

July 8, 2009

No, I don’t really mean the title of that post. Just that the words that Jack Wilson keeps speaking are stupid. Yes, he later apologized for his post-Nyjer-trade remarks, but he’s still spoken out vocally against his team’s front office on numerous occasions, and if we’re gonna hold Lastings Milledge accountable for high-fiving fans (that bastard!), we can hold a veteran player accountable for a lengthy, unambiguous statement spoken directly to the frickin’ Pirates beat reporter.

I hesitate to just copy someone else’s words onto my blog, but the following two paragraphs from Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus in his column “Whining” is basically the concept that I’ve attempted to convey in arguments (with limited success) to a bunch of my friends who are casual Pirate fans and continue to say things like “we do this every time!” (as though Neal Huntington has been on the job for more than one and a half of seventeen losing seasons) and “we were close, we just needed some guys” (my answer, “like who?” is usually followed by “I don’t know, anyone.” Anyone, like, seven Albert Pujolses who could also pitch?)

The article is Subscription Only, but if you’re a huge dork like I am, you should subscribe. Sheehan writes:

The Pirates aren’t a very good baseball team. They’re under .500, and…there’s no looking at the talent here—or the talent here three weeks ago—and concluding that they’re a contender. This same group of players, more or less, has failed year after year, and the veteran core here has no business whatsoever complaining about the direction that Neal Huntington has taken. Wilson is an overpaid mediocrity. Adam LaRoche is an adequate first baseman in the Paul Sorrento mode, and is probably the team’s best player; if your best player is Adam LaRoche, you have no hope of contending.

Huntington and Frank Coonelly have a difficult job, turning around a franchise that spent a decade in the woods. They’re doing the job well so far, and that the players they inherited—the core of those .440 juggernauts—don’t like it is perhaps the best indicator of their success. It’s Neal Huntington’s job to make Jack Wilson unhappy, no matter what the short-term ramifications of that are. Jack Wilson isn’t a part of the future in Pittsburgh. Lastings Milledge is.

I’m getting a tattoo of these two paragraphs on my face in flourescent, neon green ink just so I don’t have to suffer through another argument with another angry Pirates fan who doesn’t follow the Pirates and just shouts angry vagueries at me. No, there’s no guarantee the Pirates will start winning with the moves Huntington has made — the only guarantee is that the Pirates will definitely not start winning until moves like this have been made.

The Pirates are not good. They were not good last year. Neal Huntington is aggressively trying to make it so they are good by getting rid of players who are not good and trying to get a bunch of players who hopefully turn out to be good. Anyone who’s followed the Pirates in even the most casual of circumstances should not have trouble understanding this concept. Or at least, they won’t once I’ve gotten that tattoo.

Random Speculation: Adam LaRoche To The Mets?

June 25, 2009

Keeping this week’s theme of random predictions, the Pirates have acquired AAA first baseman Brian Myrow from the White Sox, forcing us to ask the question: Does this mean Adam LaRoche is on his way out?

Myrow is a 32-year-old journeyman (albeit with monster AAA stats),  so he’s likely gonna stick in Indianapolis barring a wave of injuries, but he gives the Pirates the organizational depth at first base to free up a LaRoche trade and allow Steve Pearce to take over at-bats at 1B with Eric Hinske as a backup/spot-starter.

But who would trade anything of value for a veteran 1B who’s four months from free agency? Well, take a look at the New York Mets’ lineup from their 3-0 loss on Tuesday, when they were shut out by right-handed-pitcher Joel Piniero, with their respective home run totals in parenthesis:

1. Cora, SS (0)

2. Murphy, Dn, 1B (5)

3. Wright, D, 3B (4)

4. Tatis, LF (2)

5. Church, RF (2)

6. Santos, O, C (4)

7. Martinez, F, CF (0)

8. Castillo, L, 2B (0)

They’re protecting David Wright with FERNANDO TATIS, a right-handed backup corner infielder with 2 HR in 133 AB this year who probably wouldn’t even make the Pirates’ roster right now, let alone bat cleanup against a right handed pitcher. How much instantly better would this lineup look with LaRoche (11 HR) playing first and batting behind Wright, freeing up a Murphy-Church-Martinez/Tatis-Sheffield platoon in the outfield (and Tatis to spell LaRoche against lefties occassionally)?

The Mets are desperate for a bat, they’re desperate for a first baseman, and they’d be getting three-plus months of a reputed “strong finisher” who’s hit .297/.360/.548 in the second half over his career, if you believe that sort of thing is significant (it certainly doesn’t hurt the situation, at least). It’s already late June anyway, and the Mets would theoretically give up more for LaRoche if they got an extra month out of him, so there’s no reason for either team to wait til the deadline to make this deal, unless posturing for a bigger/smaller return — especially when Omar Minaya is probably extra-gunshy to give up prospects after the Santana deal — holds up trade talks.

And if the Mets don’t want to make the deal, we’ll get LaRoche to change his name to “Jorge Sanchez” so that every publication can trod out its tired “this player should connect with the Mets’ significant Latin fanbase” column, and everyone’s a winner.


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