Well it's one of my favorite time of the year, baseball season is upon us. The first spring training games have just begun and I guess that means that the Pittsburgh Pirates are now officially mathematically eliminated from post-season play this season.
Bucco fans, not only will you not be playing in October (AGAIN), but your faithful are ready to put their names in history as the worst sports franchise of all time- 17 losing seasons in a row. How can one team be that bad for that period of time? The Clippers, Rays, Lions etc. have all had playoff appearances in the time.
I can list the reason and throw out blame to just about everybody, but you have heard it all before. What i am here to do is offer hope. Yeah i said hope and I swear I'm not on drugs at the moment, although as I keep writing this maybe I should be.
When I say I'm here to offer hope, I don't mean this year or next or maybe not even the year after that, but it will happen eventually (I HOPE). First off all lets get this straight, finishing above .500 accomplishes nothing unless you make the playoffs. That's the goal here, to win.
Lets look at this years team first. The fact is they are not getting better and have no chance to compete this year. It hurts to say but this could be the worst team yet. The pitching staff as a whole stinks. I like Maholm, but not a staff ace and Capps is good at the back end of the pens, but the other 10 on the staff offer nothing for now or the future. Even if you get bounce back years from Snell or Gorzalanny or both, it still isn't any good.
Offensively, Ryan (No-Mitt) Doumitt and Nate McClouth had decent years in 08 and hopefully can continue to progress, but you look at the rest of the offense, guys like Sanchez, Wilson and both Laroche's and there just isn't cause for excitement.
I did say I would give you hope so i will give it my best shot to sell you on their plan. Actually the best hope I can offer is that the Nutting family sell the team, but that won't happen anytime soon.
First thing to do is continue to blow this team up and start over. Not one player on the opening day roster should be considered untouchable. Deal them all, but when you do, you must command top young talent in return. The problem with that is that other than McClouth, Doumitt and Maholm, they just don't have much to offer to teams in return. So if that means trading your best players away, then do it if the return is right. I know fan don't want to hear this, but the Pirates need talent throughout the organization and right now they simply don't have it.
Next, I continue to show confidence in my baseball people and continue to add to the front office. Hunnington has done some good things, give him the time to continue the plan. Don't get overly excited about giving guys like McClouth, Sanchez, Capps, Maholm, Snell and Doumitt extensions. All they did was buy out the arbitration years for these guys. If anything, I give the front office credit for making these guys have More trade value.
Next, I continue to shell out money through the draft. I was very encouraged by last years draft and they need at least five more years of that. Continue to draft the best players on the board and get as many of them signed as possible. The fact of the matter is the Pirates are paying now for having very poor drafts in the past (Matt Wieters anyone?). The early reviews of Pedro Alvarez are great right now. Imagine if you had drafted Wieters, who is hands down the number one prospect in the game, after only one year of minor league ball.
Did I mention the Nutting's could sell the team?
The fact is there are no more excuses. The Rays gave you the blueprint on how to build through the draft and all they did was come from nowhere to win the toughest division in sports. Fluke? No chance. They might not repeat this year, but they have enough young talent in their organization to stay competitive for a long while.
Finally, after you stockpile enough talent in the organization, bring them up together. Bring 3 or 4 up at a time and let them learn to win together. Once enough pieces are in place, maybe the Pirates can use free agency to improve the team and add the missing pieces (Of course Nutting would have to sell the team).
Don't be excited over this team, if the plan works out, none of them will be here when the Pirates start to win anyways. get excited about: Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchon, Neil Walker, Brad Lincoln, Shelby Ford, Jose Tabata and the new class of future Pirates
It is the only thing for Pirates fans to get excited about, because the current group is about to make history, just the wrong kind. I hope i am wrong but it doesn't look good.
Unless........ Mark Cuban still wants to buy a baseball team.