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.