Monday, June 14, 2010

The Pirates Have Been Plundered

Even the Pittsburgh Pirate himself is pained by watching the games.

At some point, you have to feel bad for Pirates players. The recent eight game losing streak certainly hasn’t been for lack of trying on their part. It is merely a reflection of ownership’s unwillingness to spend the money it would take to make this team competitive on a yearly basis. Three years ago, when previous owner Kevin McClatchy left Pittsburgh, there was a sense that the new ownership may break the spell and begin to take the team in a different direction.

But in the words of the great author George Orwell, “This new version is the past, and no different past can ever have existed.”

New ownership, same tactics. You can tell how bad things are when you start to feel bad for players who are drafted by the Pirates (sorry, Jameson Taillon). It’s simply unfair. It’s unfair to the fans, those who knew better days for the Pirates, and those who didn’t. It’s unfair to the players, many of whom work extremely hard on the field and do many great things in the community. It’s not fair to the city of Pittsburgh, which deserves a baseball team worthy of the beautiful complex the city provided.

If you are fan enough to watch Bucco games with any consistency, I’m sure you feel the same. It’s one of those rare instances when players can’t truly be blamed for the team’s performance. They have been handcuffed and blindfolded by those above them. There are some good major league players on the Pirates, one of whom is a budding superstar. But the vast majority of the Pirates are players with more heart than talent. Having heart is valuable, I don’t want to take that away. But you don’t win baseball games without talent, and if you watch a Pirates win, you get the sense that it wasn’t because they were better than the opposition, it was because they just wanted it more.

It is to that point that leads us to wonder, where is Pedro Alvarez? I know that there are no quick fixes for this team; no saviors. But why bring up Lincoln and Tabata without Alvarez? It certainly wasn’t for lack of production, as Alvarez leads the Indianapolis Indians in home runs and RBI’s by far. At this point, every day that Alvarez spends in AAA ball hurts the Pirates. Alvarez is not a raw 19 or 20 year old (Note: Tabata, who is with the big squad, is merely 21), he’s a 23 year old who has spent significant time in both college ball and the minor leagues. Alvarez needs to be up sooner rather than later.

I’m not entirely pessimistic about the future of the Pirates. They have young talent with McCutchen, Brad Lincoln, Tabata and Alvarez. But until management ponies up the money to spend on these players, they will face the same fate as players such as Nate McLouth and Jason Bay, gone before their time.

The cards have been dealt. Will management ante up? Or will they fold once again?

A quick note to Pirates players:

Additional note: My good friend Pat has started a blog. He is an exemplary writer and human, and you would be doing your brain a disservice by not reading.

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