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.
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!!!!!