Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just Say No To Bob Walk and Andy Van Slyke

After last weeks firing of former pirates manager John Russell, several names have emerged as potential candidates. Some, such as Phil Garner and Eric Wedge would be considered good hires.

There are others though, including names such as Andy Van Slyke and Bob Walk that would be awful hires.

Over the past week, both guys have been gaining some steam popularity wise and that's a bad sign. It would be just like the Pirates to offer one of these guys the job.

This is a major decision for a franchise that hasn't sniffed a winning season in close to two decades. There is more pure talent in the organization right now then there has been at any time during that span. This could be the Pirates only true chance to be competitive soon.

If they don't turn it around soon, then there is a chance they likely never will. You can't put that responsibility on a guy that has no managerial experience at all. Considering either guy simply because he has ties to the Pirates is insane.

Walk has no coaching experience what so ever. What makes you think he is capable of handling young players and handling a pitching staff that will likely struggle for 162 games?

The same goes for Van Slyke. Good players don't necessarily become good managers. In fact, there are very few cases in sports where it happens often. Van Slyke at least served under Jim Leyland's staff in Detroit for three seasons, but to think he's ready to be a big league manager is a bit of a stretch.

I would feel differently if either guy had worked his way through the minors as a manager the way the Cubs Ryne Sandberg has, or if either guy has spent significant time on successful big league staffs, but neither guy has.

Just because a guy has Pittsburgh ties doesn't mean he will be successful as a manager. Sure it could happen, but the Pirates shouldn't lay their future on a roll of the dice.

Hiring either guy won't mean a thing at the box office either. Thinking attendance will improve because they brought back a former Bucco to manage the team is also not smart. The only thing that will bring people to PNC park is wins. Plain and simple.

That's not saying having Pittsburgh ties is a bad thing. Garner and Ken Macha have them and both should be considered, although it looks like Macha won't be.

I've been wanting the Pirates to hire Garner for a couple of years now. They need a real baseball guy who has won before and at least shown the ability to handle a young team.

My top three candidates are still be Eric Wedge, Freddie Gonzalez, and Garner.

With the Pirates bad ownership and small payroll, it's also possible that these guys could fail as well, but with such a small window to hopefully succeed in, they have to give the job to a guy that's proven something as a big league manager.

The Pirates shouldn't even consider Walk or Van Slyke, no matter how much the casual fan want them to get the job. This is a bigger decision then most people realize. The Pirates haven't listened to the fans for over two decades. Let's hope they don't start now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Went Wrong?

Disappointing is the word that I associate with the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates. Others would prefer words like pathetic, awful or embarrassing.

If anyone expected this team to be good this season, well they don't know baseball very well. This was set up to be the worst season yet for the Pirates, but even I wasn't prepared for them to be this bad.

They weren't going to approach .500 this season, but 50 games under the .500 mark is a bit much even for this team.

It doesn't bother me though, as long as management sticks to the plan. They likely will be in a position to select Antony Rendon with the first overall pick. Keep drafting well.

The goal of competing may be pushed back a season though. Hitting .500 next season and competing the next is a bit unrealistic. A 50 game improvement is next to impossible.

Looking back at this season, what went wrong? Why the dramatic step backwards?

A simple answer would be everything, but I've narrowed it down a bit. This list doesn't include everything but just a quick overview. Feel free to leave your thoughts as well.

1. Starting Pitching:

It's not good when two or three of a teams starters lose double digit games in a season. It's down right awful when five starters have ten or more losses.

The sad part is that the Pirates viewed the rotation as a possible strength going into the season.

Coming off of a solid 2009 campaign, Ross Ohlendorf has exactly one win compared to 12 losses. Sure he's pitched better than than the record indicates, but in the end the numbers don't lie.

Paul Maholm and Zach Duke were counted on to have solid seasons and both took huge steps backwards. Duke was often so bad that he likely won't be tendered in the off-season.

Then there is Charlie Morton, who the Pirates had high expectations for. Instead he delivered a 1-11 record with an 8.81 era.

For the year, the Pirates have used 11 different starting pitchers, which have combined for a 29-80 record and an awful 5.50 era.

Brian Burres and James McDonald have provided bright spots the last few weeks, but it's not nearly enough to off-set the poor performance of the entire starting staff.

2. Free Agents Bust:

Pirates GM Neal Huntington thought he upgraded the roster in the off-season to the point where it could compete in the NL Central. Huntington knew he had future young studs in waiting, but the guys he added in the short term were supposed to help and add depth.

Instead, they were all awful.

Starting with Aki Iwamura, who was supposed to hold down the second base job. The Pirates didn't do the necessary homework on his knee and Iwamura turned out to be damaged goods. The former Tampa Rays second baseman was no where near the player he was in Tampa.

Iwamura had zero range in the field and only hit .182 before being shipped to the minors.

Ryan Church was signed to be a quality fourth outfielder, but hit under .200 and turned out to be an all-around lazy player.

The same for Bobby Crosby who provided zero production.

These guys were all just stop gaps and weren't going to be around anyways, but while they were here, they produced nothing and took at bats away from younger players that should have had them.

It's not all bad news though. Huntington did add some quality bullpen arms through free agency and turned Octavio Dotel and the rest of the bums I mentioned before into James McDonald, Andrew Lambo, Pedro Ciriaco, Chris Snyder and John Bowker.

Also, Iwamura's struggles opened up a spot for Neil Walker to shine.

3. Most of the Returning Players Also Sucked:

I've already detailed how bad the pitchers coming back were, but the everyday players were just as bad.

Ryan Doumit started the season batting in the middle of the line up and has practically played his way out of Pittsburgh. He's been awful both at the plate and in the field.

Andy Laroche was expected to improve, but regressed and is batting .206.

Guys that were on the opening day roster, including: Lastings Milledge, Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Clement, Delwyn Young and others showed no consistency.

Even Garrett Jones failed to meet expectations, although he didn't have a terrible season.

Overall, Andrew McCutchen was the only everyday player on the opening day roster that continues to get better.

4. Road games:

Remember, the goal is to be able to compete. However, for those of you that feel like finishing .500 would be something special; here's an idea. Maybe the Pirates could play every game next season at PNC Park.

At home, the Bucs are a respectable 36-39 on the season. On the road though, it's a much different story, where the Pirates are a miserable 15-59.

How did they ever win 15? It's a miracle.

The Pirates finished the season 5-4 on the road against the Cubs and 2-1 against the Rockies, which means they are 8-55 against the rest of baseball on the road. That's hard to do.

The road record is a huge cause of concern. There's no reason to be that bad on the road.

More often than not, the Pirates don't even compete away from home. All of the blowouts aren't good for the teams confidence.

You can't compete when you have very little chance in 81 games of a 162 game schedule.

5. No Power:

Not having power and run producers in the middle of the line up has been tough to deal with. Especially as bad as the pitching has been.

Pedro Alvarez has shown glimpses of what he will be able to do, but as it stands right now, Garrett Jones leads the club with 20 homers.

The top three Pirates leader in homers: Jones (20), McCutchen (16) and Snyder (14, not all came with the Pirates) are only one more combined then major league leader Jose Bautista(49).

When the Pirates fell behind in games, especially early; before Alvarez, Walker and Jose Tabata were called up, they simply didn't have the bats to compete in games.

6. Fundamentals:

The finger here has to be pointed directly at Pirates manager John Russell. Way too often this season, the Pirates played lazy baseball.

A team takes on the personality of it's manager, and that's the way this team played.

Have you even seen a team lack so many basic fundamentals.

Not knowing what base to throw do. Not being able to lay down bunts. Not being able to hit behind runners. Not being able to turn routine plays on defense and finally the countless base running mistakes all were factors in the countless Pirates losses this season.

Average teams execute most of the time. Good teams execute most of the time. Bad teams, well they play like the Pirates.

That's the most disturbing part. The talent is starting to emerge, but at times it looks like these guys have never played the game before.

Changes will and must be made before next season.

Not everything was bad this season. My next column will be a look at the positive things we saw this season.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is Zach Duke the worst pitcher in baseball?

Pop quiz: Who is the worst starting pitcher in Major League Baseball over the last four seasons?

If you said Zach Duke, then you nailed it.

The Pirates lefty has flat-out not been very good for a span that's lasted four seasons. In that time he has compiled a 26-51 record and a 4.99 ERA and more than once has led MLB in hits allowed.

He put together a decent first half of 2009, where he was rewarded with an All-Star selection, but if Duke has proved anything, it's that he can't get major league hitters out consistently.

If you say he hasn't been the worst over that span, give me a name, because I've run the numbers on pretty much every pitcher that has had a regular rotation spot.

In 2010, there is no doubt he is the worst pitcher taking a regular turn on an MLB staff. His losses are tied for fifth among pitchers with at least 120 IP. His 5.47 ERA is the second highest, and his .320 opponents batting average against is easily the worst. That's actually embarrassing.

Once or twice out of 10 starts, Duke can turn in a good outing, as he did against the Mets a little over a month ago, but the overall body of work has not been good.

In his latest outing, he couldn't get an out in the second inning. There is no longer an upside to Zach Duke. He can't be a part of the Pirates rotation going forward.

What do you do with Duke?

He's making $4.3 million this year and is third-time arbitration eligible after the season. On innings pitched alone, he's going to get a raise.

The Pirates can't allow that to happen.

The only move that makes sense is to non-tender him after the season. His career as a Pirate should last two or three more starts.

It's very unlikely Duke gets a major league offer from another team. He's looking at signing a minor league deal with an invitation to some team's camp.

The Pirates can't spend over $5 million on a guy that just can't get outs.

The production Duke offers can be found on the waiver wire for a lot less money. Take Brian Burres, for instance. His 3-3 record and 5.75 ERA can be found easily and a lot cheaper than $5 million.

It's almost fitting that the Pirates have the worst pitcher in the game, but to turn the corner, management has to start parting ways with guys that are incapable of getting the job done on a consistent basis.

There is nothing about Duke that warrants him being part of the 2011 Pirates team. It's such a shame after the way he came up as a rookie in 2005. Injuries set him back, and that 2005 Zach Duke was entirely a different pitcher than the guy wearing that jersey now.

Duke fans, enjoy him while you can, because he is more than likely spending his final few weeks in a Pirates uniform.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pirates Enjoying the Role of Spoiler

The Pittsburgh Pirates have waited all season long to get good outings from their starting rotation. Little did they know that they would have to wait until September against the first place Atlanta Braves. The Bucs received back-to-back solid outings from the likes of Brian Burres and James McDonald. While that’s great for the Pirates, it’s next to crippling for the Atlanta Braves.

While the Pirates are enjoying the the role of spoiler, the Braves offensive struggles have knocked them out of first-place for the time being. The Braves have no one to blame but themselves. Quite frankly there is no excuse for a team like the Braves to get shutdown on consecutive nights by a team that is 44 games under .500 and sports a major league worst 5.12 team era.

Quite frankly, a team that scores one run in 18 innings of play against the Pirates doesn’t really deserve to make the playoffs anyways.

The Braves can and likely will turn things around, but they have to get the bats going. The pitching is there.

One guy who will be heavily scrutinized is first baseman Derrick Lee. Lee has been a total bust since the Braves acquired him and has left a small village on the base paths for Atlanta hitting in the middle of their order.

To make it a successful final season for manager Bobby Cox, the Braves offense must heat up. If they finish the season a game or two out of first, the can look directly back at this series in Pittsburgh as the one that cost them.

For a two game stretch, the Pirates are showing a combination of good pitching, flawless defense and timely hitting.  What happened the other 100 + games.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Does Brandon Moss Deserve another Look?

With a couple more September call-ups likely to be recalled after the Indianapolis Indians complete their regular season, the Pirates face a difficult decision on right fielder Brandon Moss.

Moss lost his right field job in Pittsburgh in 2009 after not being able to provide consistent production. He's coming off a fantastic season at AAA where he was recently voted the clubs MVP.

Moss is hitting for power and driving in runs, something he was expected to do in a Pirates uniform. Moss is currently hitting a respectable .265 with 22 homers and 95 RBI. Granted it's AAA pitching , but for a team that has so little power at the corner outfield spots, has Moss done enough to warrant another look from the Pirates?

A couple things may stand in the way. First, Moss isn't on the 40-man roster at the moment. The Pirates would need to create a spot for him and that seems almost unlikely.

Secondly, if they were to call up Moss, would there be enough at bats to justify it? They aren't going to bring him up to have him ride the bench.

The right field spot is open for competition. If Lastings Milledge isn't the everyday right fielder next season, then the Pirates will need another option. That option isn't Ryan Doumit, who the club will likely explore trade options for during the off-season.

It would be nice to have some power from the right field position. It can't hurt to take another look at Moss, who still has that "P" work attached to his name- potential.

The word potential is thrown around as much as the term "great stuff," but the Pirates haven't been the only club to see something in Moss.

Moss becomes a minor league free agent after the season if he's not called up, so Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington is faced with a difficult decision regarding the 27-year old right fielder. There is little chance Moss would re-sign with the Pirates if that were the case. He would more than likely pursue an opportunity that could lead to a major league opportunity.

With the team going no where, it can't necessarily hurt to take another look at a guy like Moss.

Did the Pirates drop the ball on Aroldis Chapman?

If you've been paying attention lately, the Cincinnati Reds called up left-handed phenom Aroldis Chapman and his 103 mph fastball this week.

That's right, I said 103 mph. He was actually clocked at 105 mph during a minor league game a week ago. Now, I have no problem with Chapman or the fact that he's wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform. What I have a big problem with is why he's not wearing a Pirates uniform instead.

The deal Chapman signed with the Reds was for six years and $30 million. The sixth year is an option year worth $5 million and the money is spread out pretty liberally. His signing bonus, which is worth around $15 million of the deal, is spread out between when he signed the contract and 2020. That seemed to be the best way for the Reds to fit the big contract into their small budget.

If the Reds could do that then why not the Pirates? What the Pirates do need is a phenom left-hander who can hit triple digits. The Pirates have done a fine job of rebuilding the organization, but this was a guy to go out and get.

There's no excuse. You can't use the usual built in excuse that, "the Yankees will out bid us."

It's one thing to get beaten out by the deep pockets of the Yankees or Red Sox, but being out bid by the Reds shouldn't have happened. That's no knock on the Reds at all. I like what they are doing and good for their organization and their fans.

The Pirates were involved and it's rumored that they fell under $1 million short of Chapman's asking price.

That's absurd.

That should have been exactly the situation where the Pirates swept in and trumped everyone with a bigger number. Give the kid $7-8 million. We keep hearing that money isn't an issue and the Pirates will spend.

Yet in less than a year, the Pirates have lost out on two potential phenoms. They lost shortstop Miguel Angel Sano to the Twins over a mere $500,000 and must now watch Chapman excel for the rival Reds, when maybe a couple more million may have had him wearing a Pirates uniform.

Very few opportunities come along where you can get a guy that can make an impact like Chapman will, and while it's likely Chapman wouldn't have signed with the Pirates, the reality is that they had a chance and once again flat out dropped the ball.

If the Reds can do it then the Pirates better be able to do it as well.

That's right though, money doesn't matter. Remember that when both of these kids become major league stars and the likely only thing that kept them out of Pittsburgh was a tight check book.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Is Jose Tabata the MVP of the Pirates?

In the midst of another miserable season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, it's often tough to find real bright spots to talk about, but the Pirates have one in outfielder Jose Tabata.

Neil Walker gets the press being the hometown kid and he's deserved it. Walker is having a tremendous rookie campaign and has cemented himself as part of the future core of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pedro Alvarez also gets a ton of attention paid to him. Coming up as "The Savior" of the Pirates hasn't been easy for Alvarez, but he's handled it well and has shown at times what type of major league player he has the potential to become in the upcoming seasons.

Having said all of that, is it possible that Jose Tabata is the best of the three future Pirates stars?

Since his June 9th call up, Tabata has been nothing short of outstanding for the last place Pirates. He's definitely been the most consistent.

Tabata has settled in very nicely in the 2-hole in the Pirates lineup. What seperates him from the others is his approach at the plate, which is the best on the team. Tabata is the one guy on the team that simply hits the ball where it's pitched. He's a very good situational hitter as well.

He's even shown some pop. The power will come. He's shown he has it. he's never going to be a 30+ homer type guy, but with time he has the ability to hit 15-20 a season.

Add to that outstanding speed and solid defense and Tabata could be a future all-star.

His 2010 numbers are very good. In 70 games, Tabata is hitting .312. His four homers and 21 RBI are modest numbers, but Tabata has shown he can hit well at the MLB level.

He's also stolen 14 bases. He's been caught seven times, but that percentage is likely to go up as he learns the pitchers around the league.

Other impressive numbers for Tabata,

. His .312 batting average ranks second among all rookies with at least 300 at bats, behind only the Giants Buster Posey.

. He reaches base consistently, reaching base safely in 58 of his 70 starts.

. He has 59 hits since the All-Star break, ranking him second to only the Cubs Starlin Castro.

. Tabata's 87 hits since his call up ranks him second in baseball behind only Albert Puljos (88). That's great company to be in.

That's quite the early resume for Tabata. He will only get better with experience. He deserves some votes for Rookie of the Year. While he has no chance to win the award, he should be recognized along with some of the other great young players in the game.

While he won't win the Rookie of the Year, Tabata should win another award and that's the team MVP. He's definitely the Pirates MVP at the moment. No one else has stood out to make a strong case this year

Maybe it could go to relievers Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek who have both had outstanding seasons out of the Pirates bullpen. However, if you are giving the award to the guy that's had the best season, then Tabata has to be considered the Pirates Most Valuable Player.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Charlie Morton's Last Stand

The Pittsburgh Pirates will do some tinkering to the starting rotation this week. Jeff Karstens is being shelved for the time being with a tired arm. Daniel McCutchen will assume Karstens spot in the rotation tonight against the Cardinals.

They will also need a starter for Sunday, as Ross Ohlendorf won't be taking his scheduled start. The guy to keep an eye on is Charlie Morton. Morton needs this opportunity. Pirates fans need it as well.

Morton deserves at least a five-start look at the end of the season. The Pirates have to find out which guy they have. Is it the Charlie Morton that showed towards the end of 2009 that he can be a capable major league pitcher? Or, do they have the Charlie Morton that simply couldn't get major league hitters out consistently in 2010?

The Pirates should believe in Morton still. He has all the tools. He has a great arm with a fastball that can top 95 mph and can back that up with above average breaking stuff.

I vowed to never use the term "great stuff," after hearing it over a thousand times this year during Pirates telecasts, but Morton has it.

Morton has to show better command this time around. He has to locate better or he will get crushed. He has to pitch off his fastball more. It's a weapon and he needs to use it to get people out.

He also has to be much tougher mentally as well. He's too talented to fold and start giving into hitters. The scouting reports on Morton, dating back to his days in the Atlanta system, have always questioned his head. With the "stuff" a guy like Morton has, he has to have a bulldog-like mentality.

Throwing to Chris Snyder instead of Ryan Doumit should help out as well. In his short time in Pittsburgh, Snyder has shown that he will call the game to the pitchers strengths instead of working to their weaknesses, which Doumit is very fond of doing.

Morton is a much better pitcher than his 1-9 record and 9.35 ERA indicate. If the opportunity is given to him, he must take advantage of it.

This could be a second chance served up to him on a silver platter. He must approach it with that attitude or risk not being part of a future Pittsburgh Pirates rotation. He needs to succeed. The Pirates need him to succeed. The fans need him to succeed.

This could be Charlie Morton's last stand as a Pittsburgh Pirate. He needs to come out fighting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ranking the Top 10 Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects

For all of the doubters, take a look at where the Pirates overall organizational depth is right now, compared to where it was at this point three seasons ago.

While it doesn't currently show at the major league level, Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington and staff has done a tremendous job of loading up the organization with young talent.

For a change, the Pirates have "real" prospects in the organization and that's a positive sign that things will eventually turn around. Now that another successful draft is over for the Pirates, I thought I'd take a look at the Top 10 Prospects currently in the organization.

This list was harder to cut down to ten than I originally thought, so enjoy and feel free to comment with your top 10.

10. SS Chase D'Arnaud- D'Arnaud isn't having one of his best seasons, currently batting .246, 3 HR, 40 RBI at Altoona. He's still one of the best athletes in the system though.

He's a slick fielder who has shown the ability to hit at other stops. It should only be a matter of a year or two before D'Arnaud is starting in PNC Park.

9. LHP- Rudy Owens- Owens is a lefty who opened every one's eyes a season ago with a 10-1 season at West Virginia. He doesn't have over powering stuff, but throws strikes and has great command.

At Altoona, Owens currently is 10-6 with a 2.67 era and has an impressive 118 strikeouts to only 22 walks.

8. RHP Bryan Morris- Morris was acquired from the Dodgers in the Jason Bay trade and after dealing with injuries, has shown everyone what the big deal about him is all about.

He started the season in Bradenton and quickly was promoted to Altoona. He's hit a wall as of late and will likely be shut down to his innings count, but has an outside shot at a big league rotation spot next season.

Morris features a fastball in the low 90's and has good command of his pitches; including a very good curve ball.

7. LHP-Jeff Locke- Locke was acquired as the big piece of the Nate McLouth trade and has done a lot this season to open up some eyes. Locke started the season at Bradenton where he went 9-3 with a 3.54 era.

Locke has a solid four pitches and throws strikes. He since was promoted to Altoona where he's gone 2-1 with a 3.07 era. Combined at the two stops, Locke has struck out 123 batters in 127.1 innings pitched and only allowed 22 walks.

6. OF- Andrew Lambo- Lambo was acquired from the Dodgers along with James McDonald at this seasons trade deadline in exchange for Octavio Dotel. This will go down as the best trade Huntington has made yet as Pirates GM.

Lambo was the Dodgers number one prospect a season ago, but was suspended for 50 games for PED's and fell out of favor in Los Angeles.

Lambo is a five tool player that has potential stud written all over him. In 14 games since being acquired, Lambo is hitting .340 with 2 HR and 7 RBI. Scouts have raved about the young outfielders all around talent.

5. OF- Starling Marte- Marte is another five tool talent that is part of a future Pirates outfield. Marte was slowed this season by a broken bone in his hand, but after an early season promotion to Bradenton, the 22-year old is hitting .320 with 25 RBI and 17 steals.

Marte might be the most gifted all around talent in the entire organization.

4. RHP- Luis Heredia- The Pirates made waves by recently signing the 16-year old Mexican prodigy, which could wind up being one of the Pirates best international signings ever.

Heredia projects to be around 6"6, around 200 lbs. and already throws in the mid-90's. He won't be rushed, but on potential talent alone, he ranks very high on the list.

3. C- Tony Sanchez- Sanchez ranks a little higher on the list because he likely will reach the major's by 2012. The 2009 first round pick is said to be big league ready defensively and his bat has been a pleasant surprise, hitting .312 with modest power this far in his young career.

Sanchez took a pitch to the face which cost him some time, otherwise he likely would be in AA by now. Chances are he opens the season in Altoona next year and with a solid showing could force the Pirates hands on a quick call up.

2. RHP- Stetson Allie- An organization desperate for pitching, nabs the two best arms in the 2010 draft. I've seen all these guys pitch, including Allie and the kid has a lightning bolt for an arm.

The one thing the organization was lacking is starters with ace potential and Allie is now one of two that fit the bill. He has some things to learn, including some command issues, but you can teach command. You can't teach 100mph.

1. RHP Jameson Taillon- The Pirates made the pick they had to make in Jameson Taillon and they gave him a record $6.5 mil. Taillon is a guy that can get it up to 98 mph and has four out pitches and can throw them for strikes in any count.

Taillon has the tools to be Josh Beckett like, something the Pirates have been missing for far too long. If he and Allie become a solid 1-2 punch within 2-3 years, the Pirates will be well on their way to being competitive once again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Future of the Pirates Could Ride on the Signings of Taillon and Allie

Decision time nears for Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington and the rest of the front office staff. First and second round picks, right handers Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie must be signed by tonight’s midnight deadline.

This becomes the toughest decision Huntington has ever had to make as General Manager of the Pirates. It’s even tougher then the Pedro Alvarez negotiations that nearly turned into an embarrassing mess for the Pirates.

The facts are that if the Pirates didn’t come to terms with Alvarez, there would have been some uproar, but in the end, the situation would have been viewed as “Same Old Pirates,” and been forgotten. In the end, the decision becomes easy for the Pirates. Just pay the kids.
This case is different. The Pirates absolutely have to sign both of these kids. What would happen if they don’t?
First of all, the Pirates would alienate the fan base they do have. They would lose trust and would have little chance of gaining new Pirates fans in the future, something they desperately need.
Owner Bob Nutting would be the one and only target of the backlash. We’ve heard time and time again the past year about how the Pirates are no longer in a position where money matters. He’s stated time and time again that the club will pay for talent. Now is the time to quit telling the fans and start showing them that you are serious.
If they don’t sign both, what exactly is the point of the rebuild? It makes little sense to start to rebuild the organization with young talent to just quit and give up on it half way through. If they fail to lock up both, the terms “rebuilding,” and “future of the Pirates,” can never be used again. Fans just won’t be able to take the front office seriously.
The final and most important reason that the Pirates need to sign these guys is the on-field performance of the pitching staff. The Pirates need quality arms in the system. One thing they are lacking is arms that have staff ace potential. These two kids fit the bill. You can teach kids whatever you want about pitching, but one thing you can’t teach them is how to throw 100mph.
After the deadline passes on Taillon and Allie, Huntington must turn his attention to signing highly touted 16-year old pitching prospect Luis Heredia out of Mexico. Heredia recently said he wanted to play for the Pirates. When is the last time you heard anyone say that?
Huntington has a busy couple weeks ahead of him. He can get off to a good start tonight by simply getting a couple signatures on a couple of contracts. The decision is an easy one. Give them whatever they want. Show them the money. Fans have watched this franchise count nickles and dimes for far too long. The decision is simple. Do what it takes to get the kids signed.