Monday, August 23, 2010

Pirates' Ship Sailing Another Direction?

First off, my apologies for the lack of updates. Real world stuff happens, what can you do?

The Buccos have officially made it 18 straight losing seasons. And I think I'm the only one who's impressed. But really, where else in sports do you get that type of consistency? It's a true rarity.

But all good things must come to an end, right?


For the better part of two decades, the Pirates' ship has been lost at sea; waves crashing up over the deck, holes torn in the sails. But there have been signs of the chaos relenting, moving into calmer waters.

So what is it about the currently 41-83 Pirates that has me seeing blue skies? At the major league level, not much. We all know what we have in Andrew McCutchen. Jose Tabata and Neil Walker have both proven that they can play at a major league level, and do it well. Pedro Alvarez has struggled at times, but has shown flashes of how much of a game-changer he can become.

The pitching sucks. The team ERA is over 5.00, I can't say anything positive.


Let me defend my (very) cautious optimism.

The Buccos are spending some money. Not on players like Jeromy Burnitz and Matt Morris, rather on young talent like Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie. They took $2.6 million and gave it to 16 year old pitching phenom Luis Heredia. They've spent more money on their past two drafts than they ever have before. They've broken their Scott Boras boycott and are simply trying to draft the best possible players, rather than their old practice of drafting someone they thought they could afford.

At the trade deadline, the Pirates did their yearly salary dump. However, this year was different. There was no Nate McLouth, Jason Bay or Freddy Sanchez departing Pittsburgh. The Pirates only got rid of overpaid players that truly didn't have a place with the future of this franchise. Of the five players that left Pittsburgh July 31st, the youngest was Bobby Crosby at age 30.

Admittedly, former GM Dave Littlefield, for all of his lack of wisdom, was handcuffed behind his back by ownership. Coonelly and Huntington may be cuffed as well, but the key may be within reach.

The fortunes of the Pirates won't turn on a dime, but there are signals that they may at least start making that turn. The true test will be, when these players come to fruition (and we'll see the first batch with McCutchen, Tabata, Walker, Alvarez), will ownership be willing to shell out the money to keep these guys around? Or is this truly a vicious cycle with profit being the sole motive for the owners?

Time will tell. But the crew is on the deck, making a push for home.

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