Archive for August, 2010

The Pirates Have To Fire John Russell

August 31, 2010

In light of Dejan Kovacevic’s damning piece on the Pirates’ historically awful 2010 campaign today, as well as this well-argued John Russell post on Bucs Dugout, I believe now is as good a time as any to state what seems like an increasingly inevitable conclusion: The Pirates cannot retain John Russell as their manager into 2011.

Personally, I have long been of the opinion that a manager in baseball has little to no tangible effect on a team’s record — managers in baseball aren’t comparable to NFL head coaches, who are universally instrumental in the building and development of their franchises as well as their players’ in-game performances, or NHL coaches, who can will a decent team to exceptional performance with defensive schemes and tactical inspiration (See: 2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes). To me, baseball managers exist to manage the personalities of an MLB clubhouse over the course of a 162-game grind, to manage playing time and pitchers’ innings properly, and to make minor in-game tactical decisions. When a manager has been given a team like the 2010 Pirates to work with, there’s simply not much they can do to affect the win column on a daily basis.

That being said, when a team like the Pirates is projected to win between 70-74 games by various neutral preseason statistical simulations (their Vegas Over/Under was 71 wins), and they’re currently on pace to come in between 53 and 54 wins, then clearly, even by the Pirates’ minuscule capabilities coming into this season, they have vastly underachieved. I’m not blaming the failures of the Pirates’ pitching staff or of Huntington’s reclamation projects directly onto Russell, nor am I even really blaming their record on Russell, but put quite simply, when a team performs as across-the-board terribly as the Bucs have this year, it’s impossible to argue that the manager’s effect on the team — even if it’s extremely minor or even nonexistent — has been a positive one.

The fact that managers are so replaceable in MLB is all the more reason why firing Russell and heading into 2011 with a fresh start makes such obvious sense. I’m certainly not arguing that another manager could’ve made the 2010 Bucs competitive, but I simply don’t see why the Pirates wouldn’t take the extremely rudimentary step of hiring a new manager for 2011 to get a fresh voice into the clubhouse and make a clean break from a season of legendary futility. No matter how often we fall back on the “this specific thing isn’t Russell’s fault” argument, at this painful juncture, I cannot imagine what negatives could possibly result from the Pirates bringing in a new manager, provided he doesn’t, say, suplex Jose Tabata or something.

I posted a lot of these thoughts in more detail on this Bucs Dugout thread, which I’ve posted after the jump — sorry for the lazy copy-paste approach, but I already resent the amount of energy I expound analyzing the Pirates on a daily basis, and I have no interest in doubling that amount:

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This Headline Doesn’t Sound Encouraging

August 30, 2010

“Status Quo?” Meaning, the amount of rape hasn’t changed?

Gotta be a little clearer with these headlines, Post-Gazette, cause it’s difficult not to immediately assume the worst. When it comes to the Roethlisberger situation, I think we’d all much rather be hearing about the “ultra-mega-super-NOT status quo.”

Mississippi Really Hates NHL Overtime

August 26, 2010

Penguins Sign Asham, Won’t Bring Back Guerin

August 26, 2010

The Penguins announced today that they won’t be re-signing Bill Guerin, just several days after (and perhaps unrelated to) signing winger Arron Asham to a one-year, $700,000 deal.

Guerin was tied for third on the team in goals last year with 21 in 78 games, and led all Penguin wingers in goals, but even with the Pens’ winger situation on their top two lines seemingly unresolved, I don’t foresee his departure as having a large effect. Yes, 21 goals was a nice total for a Penguin winger, but Guerin played essentially a full season on Sidney Crosby’s wing and on the Pens’ top power play unit (11 of his 21 goals came with the man advantage); I’d predict that any half-competent scoring winger would produce similar numbers if they played that many games in that particular role, provided their name doesn’t rhyme with Muslan Medotenko.

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Pirates’ Losing Seasons Streak Turns 18

August 23, 2010

The Pirates lost their 82nd game over the weekend, officially clinching their 18th straight losing season, an unprecedented achievement across all major North American sports leagues.

While the clinching game was in itself completely academic, as this streak-clinching season was foreseeable from about the time Phantom Menace hit theaters, I mention the milestone only so I can relay this quote from my friend Matt Little:

“On the plus side, the Pirates’ losing streak can now legally buy pornography”

People Don’t Say “No Doy” Enough Anymore

August 20, 2010

Headline on Steelers.com (click for full size):

So that’s how that works? The Steelers use the NFL Season to determine whether or not they’re successful? Hrm. I thought they just waited for Maxim’s 100 Hottest Bodz issue to come out and hoped to be on it.

Pirates Win A Thing! (The Draft)

August 18, 2010

Sorry again for the spotty posting, been out of town most of the past week, and even when I have been around, the only news to report is ultra-preliminary Steeler training camp stuff about which I have no educated opinion (but who WILL snag that 8th linebacker spot??), and Pirates stuff, which is, well, like writing about how throwing mosquitoes on yourself every summer results in those mosquitoes biting you a bunch of times.

Fortunately, this week brought some legitimately good Pirates news, and not of the “grasping at straws” variety, but more like grasping at really significant straws, just straws that won’t have an impact for 3-4 years, when I’m entering my thirties. I’m gonna skip a couple lines now so I don’t have to look at that last sentence.










Anyway, the good news is, the Pirates had another monumentally successful draft this year, locking up #2 overall pick Jameson Taillon as well as second round pick but consensus first-round-talent Stetson Allie to deals worth $6.5 million and $2.25 million respectively, as part of $11.9 million in total 2010 draft spending (second most behind the Nationals), pushing the Pirates’ total draft spending under Neal Huntington to $30.7 million over three years, the most in the majors in that span.

Baseball America also named the Pirates as one of the “Winners” in this year’s draft, along with the Nationals and a couple individuals, with the Brewers and Padres falling into the “Losers” category. The Pirates don’t win a lot of things nowadays, besides the Great Pitching On Opposite Day contests that I just made up, but they absolutely took care of business in this draft, dealt out above-slot bonuses across the board, and infused their system with another rich class of badly needed talent, particularly on the pitching end. A week like this is far more significant to the franchise than the Brandon Donnelly release or the Iwamura trade, even if the attention it receives from the mainstream press is comparable. “Comparable,” meaning, the Pirates never get any attention for anything ever, unless an injured sausage is involved.

Speaking of the actual team, how many hits did they manage against Ricky Nolasco tonight? Negative three? Cool.

Mostly Good News: Pirates Trade Deadline Review

August 4, 2010

Keith Law, ESPN:

Dodgers give up too much for Dotel

The Pirates get an absolute steal of a return on Octavio Dotel by getting two out-of-favor prospects from the Dodgers, creating a situation in which if only one pans out they still see a significant gain.

Jack Moore, Fangraphs.com:

Huntington, Pirates Win At Deadline

Given the fact that the Astros and Indians had to throw money into trades with the Yankees, it seems hard to believe that the Pirates could acquire value for this ragtag group without at least throwing in a significant sum of cash.

That, however, is exactly what Neal Huntington managed to do, turning this group of players into Chris Snyder, John Bowker, Joe Martinez, Pedro Ciriaco, James McDonald, Andrew Lambo, and, perhaps most shockingly, $2.5 million dollars…Given the fact that the Pirates traded essentially useless players with limited team control to acquire this group, that’s a big time win, and the kind of moves that teams in the Pirates position need to make.

Christina Kahrl, Baseball Prospectus:

Now that, folks, is turnover. There’s no Bagwell-level, franchise-changing loot, but it’s a fine haul for ditching a ton of thoroughly dispensable junk, and some of it should end helping man a better Pirates ballclub on the diamond in the near term, providing a decent collection of supporting players to a team that needs help in every dimension. Essentially, Neal Huntington managed to purvey a lot of his trash into other people’s treasures, with treasure being a relative term.

Bob Smizik, Post-Gazette.com:

[Huntington] traded closer Octovio [SIC] Dotel and Javier Lopez, the team’s top left-handed reliever. As near as I can tell, the primary reason for doing this was salary relief. Same old, same old, it seems.

…If the Pirates kept Dotel next season, he’d be due $4.5 million. The Pirates, not surprisingly, wanted no part of that. So instead of declining the option at some point in the off-season, when it would clearly be a financial move, the Pirates attempted to cloud the issue by trading him.

Once he was dealt for pitcher James McDonald and outfielder Andrew Lambo, the Pirates were a lesser team — today and for next season.

In Conclusion:

NEWS IN BR…F: Wednesday, August 4th 2010

August 4, 2010

  • Report: Favre To Retire, Boy Cries Wolf



  • Celtics Begin Youth Movement, Sign Shaq



  • Haynesworth Unable To Finish Dinner



  • A-Rod Hits Nice Round Numbered Home Run



  • Chicago Releases Blackhawks To Get Under Cap