The Pirates need to pretend to go all-in


The Pittsburgh Pirates need to make a big splash when they arrive at the Winter Meetings this December. I’m not talking about having a press conference or posting something on their website telling their fans that they are going to try hard.

No, they need to arrive at the meetings the same way Rodney Dangerfield arrived at Bushwood in “Caddyshack.” Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington needs to be driving a limo with a horn blaring “We’re in the Money,” and be a big tipper wherever he goes. He needs to point to every agent wandering around the lobby and say, “I’ll sign one of your players, and one of yours…” And if he sees Bud Selig he has to stop and say, “Last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it…”

OK, so maybe I’m taking the “Caddyshack” analogy too far…

The point is, the Pirates need to LOOK and ACT like they are big shots with money to spend. They need to at least pretend to be going all-in for 2011.

There’s a rumor that they are interested in a short term offer for Adrian Beltre. But that’s not enough.

I want Huntington saying loudly, publicly and on Twitter, “Hey! Cliff Lee! I got a contract for you. You too, Carl Crawford! Jayson Werth? I’ve got something Werth your time!”

He needs to hold press conferences saying “We are actively working on bringing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera to the Pittsburgh Pirates—where they belong.”

They need to constantly throw their names into the free agent mix and act like high rollers.

“But Sully,” you say. “How can the cheap Pirates, with the lowest payroll in baseball, possibly afford such an elaborate spending spree?”


They won’t have to spend one cent.


Because no right-minded agent would send a top-tier client to baseball’s Siberia—Pittsburgh.

Cliff Lee? He’s heading to New York. A few unruly fans spitting on Mrs. Lee isn’t going to prevent the Yankees from reeling in the big fish. $125 million can buy a nice umbrella.

Carl Crawford? He’s going to be an Angel.
Jayson Werth? He’s a Red Sox for sure.
Paul Konerko? He’s going back to Chicago.
Jeter and Rivera?
Puh-lease, they are Yankees for life.

But the Pirates need to make offers to each of them, and make sure there is at least one reporter at each press conference who asks, on the record, “Did Pittsburgh contact you?” If nothing else, it creates the illusion that the Pirates are trying to make their team better.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

The Nationals have done this a few times recently. Did they REALLY think Mark Teixeira was coming to the Nats? Of course not—but at least they can turn to their fans and say, “We tried.” Now they’re throwing a hat into the ring for Cliff Lee, knowing damn well they might not even crack Lee’s “Top 29 Big League Destinations.”

The Culture of the Pittsburgh Pirates needs to change; the first step might be simply PRETENDING to change.

I read a Hot Stove preview for this offseason that said that the Pittsburgh Pirates are aiming to have a .500 team by 2013. Take your time, Pirates.

You haven’t put a MEDIOCRE team on the field since George Bush was President—the elder George Bush. There are kids in the Pirates minor league system who have no memory of Poppy Bush in office.

There are no acceptable excuses for why the Pirates are on the verge of going an entire generation without a .500 team. They can’t blame city support. Pittsburgh built them a brand new beautiful ballpark for them to suck in.

They can’t blame payroll. The Padres won 90 games last year with just $3 million more on the books than the Pirates. The delta between their payrolls was less than Kevin Correia’s salary. One contended until the last day of the season. The other was out of it by Memorial Day.

Yeah, a team can stink for a long, long time—but even blind squirrels like the Brewers and Royals found a .500 nut in the 2000s. Not Pittsburgh.

Teams like the Rays and A’s field competitive teams with low payrolls and good drafts. The Pirates have flopped in draft after draft, blowing #1 overall picks on Kris Benson and Bryan Bullington, and taking non-entities like Mark Farris, J. J. Davis, Bobby Bradley, John Van Benschoten and Brad Lincoln while passing on Tim Lincecum, David Wright, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Nomar Garciaparra (among others.)

They’ve made horrible trades, dumping players like Jason Bay, Nate McClouth and Freddy Sanchez in recent years when they had trade value. Who did they get in return? Andy LaRoche? Charlie Morton? Craig Hansen? Gorkys Hernandez?

How can teams like the Marlins be able to snag players like Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla and Ricky Nolasco from other teams while the Pirates can not even pick up a serviceable big leaguer?

Last trading deadline, the Pirates didn’t do their annual purging of veteran talent—because they didn’t have any!

And I don’t know where their revenue sharing money is going, but it clearly isn’t going into payroll, scouting or player development.

Let me put into perspective how bad things are for the Pirates—they haven’t been relevant since the 1992 National League Championship Series. The hard luck loser of Game seven was Doug Drabek. His son, Kyle, is now a prospect for Toronto.

That literally means a more effective way for the Pirates to rebuild would have been to take the 1992 team and put them out to stud.

The Pirates desperately need a .500 season if for no other reason than to lift that stigma off the team.

I know the Pirates have some good talent on their current team. And I know that Huntington is a better GM than his predecessor, David Littlefield. But let’s not go crazy—the Pirates are STILL the worst team in baseball, and .500 doesn’t look realistic until after the next Presidential election.

I am not asking to Pirates to scale the heights all the way to the World Series. Their Everest right now is having a team that doesn’t totally suck.

The first step is to LOOK like big spenders.

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Bob Lee
11 years ago

Wow. I hadn’t expected uninformed drivel at THT. Too bad it wasn’t funny.

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

To be fair to the Nationals, they do have the money to spend, a large yet mostly untapped market, and truly believe they are 1 star player away from being a relevant team in 2012 (yes, ‘12 not ‘11).

Making a splash for a player like Lee or Crawford could start a chain reaction with the Nationals creeping towards .500, the fans finally showing some steady interest, money flowing into the coffers, etc. Then they get back Strasburg, add another free agent, wait one more year on Harper…and bam, they have a full house, a motivated fanbase, and an 85-90 win team.

Growing up a fan of the Phillies, I watched just such a process unfold. The Phillies were able to leverage a Jim Thome signing and a couple up and coming studs into their current 4 year playoff run and meaty payroll.

11 years ago

How was it uninformed?
What did he say that was wrong?

I agree with the Nats, but the Pirates have had since 1992… more than enough time to draft a team and trade for at least one good team

11 years ago

I can appreciate pointed, well researched and well written critique of organizations. I can even appreciate some barbed humor in taking shots at current management and ownership.In the case of this article, it misses on every front.

Would love to see someone really put the work into trying to study the model the Pirates are using to rebuild from the bottom up, after years of trying to patch the top, the middle and the bottom. This article’s attempt was a swing and miss.

11 years ago

Yeah, Brad, the Nats may have the money, but they are also delusional.

Brad Johnson
11 years ago


It’s true that even a top offer to Lee or Crawford from the Nats probably wouldn’t be enough to coerce them into signing. However, the Nats do have the pieces in place to be able to say to them “we believe you are the key component to resurrecting our franchise.” They can make a unique offer to these top free agents – sign with us and we’ll not only pay you commensurate to your skills, but if you continue to play at this level you will make a place for yourself in history. Lee or Crawford might not be the players who get sold on this point, but they will eventually get someone over the next two seasons.

11 years ago

How did it miss on every front?

Have they drafted well? Clearly not, they’ve wasted their first round picks over and over. And the guy showed his work

Have they traded their veterans well? Clearly not. And again, whoever wrote this showed that.

Clearly they are a team who keeps changing managers and changing strategies and nothing has seemed to work because they are still the worst team in baseball with no end in sight.

Plus I thought it was kind of funny

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

I can’t tell if Mark is two different people or just schizo…

11 years ago

It’s not mutually exclusive. We could be 2 people but I could be schizo

I thought the same thing.

I am Mark from Florida. Not sure who the other Mark is.

Mark (not in FL)
11 years ago

There are two Pirates organizational models, the 1993-2007 model and the 2008 – present. I think that Joe Sheehan gave the fairest assessment, both good and bad, that I’ve seen written in years. The Pirates deserve no credit for what they did to this organization for 15 years, but to not understand what has taken place in the last three years is another thing.

Read this link to Sheehan’s article and tell me is you think it’s fair, accurate and on point.

Paul E
11 years ago

Just guessing here, but, if you’re going to dump veterans like Nady, Bay, McLouth, Sanchez, Jack Wilson, and even Nyger Morgan, I believe you have to have a better return than merely reduced payroll. 105 loss seasons don’t really help increase your season ticket holder fan base….

thank god for revenue sharing

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

Of course, of those players, only Nady, Bay, and McLouth had any real value at all. The Bay deal was a disaster, but Nady hooked them another decent role player in Tabata. It’s hard to criticize the Bucs for picking up a post-hype toolsy player like Milledge for Morgan (who’s really barely better than a 4th OF). I recall the Sanchez trade was universally considered a huge win until Tim Alderson fizzled this year.

People criticize Huntington for not getting back more, but these were generally really mediocre players (aside from Bay). I doubt there’s a team in the world who would have traded more valuable parts for any of those players.

11 years ago

And yet other teams can get at least serviceable big leaguers in trades and draft quality players in the draft.

I find the whole “Hey Dave Littlefield was awful!” argument to be as tiresome as “Hey look at how bad Bush left the country.”

We know… start turning it around.

3 years isn’t enough to turn the Pirates from a terrible team to a contender… but it is long enough to put a .500 team on the field.

Right now the team is worse on the field than when Littlefield was in charge and even the most optimistic appraisals have it be 2 or 3 years before the team is mediocre.

Yet they always draft in the top 10, they have dealt away players at the trading deadline who had enough value to at least get someone on the 25 man roster.

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

You have to have pieces with value to get returns via trade. Or you have to play the prospect lottery by trading for a toolsy long shot. As for the draft, I think that’s the whole point being made, Huntington has done pretty well for himself via the draft.

If you’re tired of the Dave Littlefield was awful approach, you probably don’t appreciate just how epically terrible he really was. Huntington inherited a 25 man roster of mostly below average players and a farm system as barren as the Sahara. He has tried to rebuild via the draft and international efforts, but prospects usually take a solid 3-5 years to develop. The earliest fruits are just now nearing readiness.

The Pirates shouldn’t even try to be competitive for the next 3 years. They need more elite draft picks to help rescue the franchise.

11 years ago

At the time Nate McLouth was 26 years old, coming off a Gold Glove season where he led the league in doubles and was a 20-20 HR stolen base guy.

And a year and a half later, the bounty for a chip like that is two 26 year old pitchers who are awful and Gorkys Hernandez who MIGHT be good but hasn’t played a game above AA yet.

Freddy Sanchez was a consistent hitter, albeit with injury issues, who gave pop in the middle of the infield.

Jason Bay was an All Star that the Red Sox felt would be a worthy replacement for Manny Ramirez.

Dave Littlefield didn’t trade them.
If they got back, not a star, but a decent big leaguer for each one of them, they would be three players closer to being OK.

Instead they basically traded Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez and Nate McLouth for Andy LaRoche

Now Tim Alderson might turn out to be OK… but like Gorkys, he hasn’t even made it to AAA.

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

The McLouth trade did seem light/rushed. I’ll agree with that.

I will not under any circumstance allow that Sanchez was worth more than a declining Tim Alderson. Just sending Sanchez’s paycheck elsewhere was a heist.

And while the Bay deal turned out awful, at the time it looked like they got a decent if uninspired return. The Red Sox held all the leverage in such a deal so it’s not surprising the Bucs were left wanting.

I agree that Huntington has done poorly in the trade market, I think he’s hurt his own image with a willingness to take the best offer even if it doesn’t feel “fair.” GM’s pick up on this and will continue to lowball him until he makes a stand. Unfortunately, I don’t think that was ever an option with any of these players. They basically all had to be traded when they were traded (aside from McLouth).

11 years ago

Wait a second?
The RED SOX held the leverage in the Bay trade?
That was a joke, right?

The Red Sox were in a position where they HAD to deal Ramirez, which is why the Dodgers got him for practically nothing.

People were killing the Red Sox giving up Ramirez plus other players for Bay.

The Red Sox got a player who excelled in the 2008 post season

The Dodgers got a reason to show up to the park

The Pirates got hosed… like they get hosed in every other trade… like they pass on great players in the draft… which I think was the point of this post

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

Ok I suppose I could have explained that part of it, but it’s a needless complication. Functionally it’s the same, the Pirates basically needed to deal Bay there. The fact that the Red Sox absolutely had to deal Manny did not improve the Pirates leverage with the Red Sox because that wasn’t their end of the deal.

The Dodgers had leverage on the Red Sox, the Red Sox had leverage on the Pirates, it’s not hard to see why the Pirates caught the light end of the trade.

11 years ago

The Pirates could have let Bay walk and pick up two first round picks. That would have been more valuable than the junk they got back

Either way, it’s funny how the Pirates keep getting the light end of a deal over and over again.

I like the Pirates.
I want to see them win.

But when can the scouts say “Hey! There’s a good player we can get back for this chip”? Why does it always have to end “Well, I guess we have to get nothing back”?

Other teams can get the Dan Ugglas and Carlos Gonzalez and Andre Ethiers of the world as minor leaguers and the Pirates always shrug and say “Oh well, guess we’ll get hosed again.”

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

There’s a great deal of…shall we say luck…involved in getting a guy like that. In fact I would suggest that Huntington has tried to maximize his chances of digging up just such a treasure. Either his scouts have failed him or luck hasn’t swung his way.

Dan Uggla was a Rule V pick and there was some talk of Cargo never being more than a 4th OF after his brief stay in Oakland.

Again, we can say the scouting department needs to be improved, they’ve failed with luck, or it’s some combination of the two. Personally I applaud him for trying.

It’s not that I’m saying the Pirates have done a particularly good job, I just don’t think you can make much ado about the poor returns to trade.

Mark (not in FL)
11 years ago

Granted, the near term pitching is what has caused such horrible MLB results, but one can argue that no organization in baseball has three young arms with the ceiling of Taillon, Allie and Heredia.If they can be developed as well as Alvarez, McCutchen, Tabata and Walker were, this team is going to be good.

I can’t think of the last time this organization was relevant from the bottom to the top. I think it’s getting pretty close to being able to say that.

McCutchen, Alvarez, Walker, Tabata, Taillon, Allie, Heredia, Sanchez, Rendon (likely added this year),Colton Cain and Zack Von Rosenberg have all been drafted, traded for, or developed by the current staff.

When you think about how the former regime destroyed this organization, this is a quick reversal. If (that’s the question) this ownership is willing to open the coffers to supplement that talent, it’s worth waiting for.

11 years ago

Everyone has bad luck
But when they NEVER get it right, you have to look beyond luck.

The Padres can get quality players back for a broken down Jake Peavy but the Bucs consistently can’t even get someone to crack the worst 25 man roster in the bigs.

Sorry… when it is always “Hey we were on the short end of the stick!” and “Getting good players is luck!” and “Look how bad things were 3 years ago!” it sounds like a lot of excuses and no responsibility is taken.

The Expos put a winning team on the field in 2002 and 2003… they didn’t have an OWNER! They didn’t have the money to recall players in September. They had no stadium or TV deal.

Yet somehow they won more than they lost those 2 years.

Was it ALL luck?

11 years ago

To be fair Mark NOT in Florida, I agree that with some of the players on the field, they have at least the potential for a decent lineup.

But haven’t we heard this before?
Won’t Alvarez, Tabata et al be traded away for pennies on the dollar and we’ll just hear “Oh it is so hard to draft well”?

Again… I am ROOTING for the Pirates. I’ve liked the Pirates ever since they wore the Yellow helmets.

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

Well Mark, I would say that’s when Huntington should be sent packing, if he can’t build a strong core and has to deal away Alvarez, etc. Honestly, I would leave it to the next GM to deal this round of prospects.

You can only applaud a process for so long, I think a GM who’s handed an organization as totally bereft as the Pirates should be given seven years to climb back within striking distance, especially if his plan of attack makes sense. Then ownership must assess whether the org will continue to grow or if it’s plateaued.

11 years ago

7 years.

OK… and I were ownership, you say to the Pirate fans “Hey! By 2014, we’ll be in striking distance!”

Thanks for waiting 22 years for a winning team.
There would be 30 year olds in Pittsburgh with no real memory of a relevant Pirate team.

And you can look to teams that have worse stadiums, smaller revenues, less passionate fanbases and horrible foundations turn things around in 3 or 4 years… but the Pirates will take nearly a quarter of a century to put a mediocre product on the field?

Again, the article isn’t talking about a World Series winner… it’s saying a .500 team.

If a GM can’t put a .500 team on the field in 4 years, that’s pretty sad.

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

But they don’t want a .500 team, they want a playoff contender. It’s easy to get to 81 wins, even on a tight budget. It’s much tougher to get to 94 wins, especially with that tight budget. If Huntington could pull a Hendry and just engage in a spending spree, it would be much easier. Maybe the article isn’t talking about a playoff team, but it should be. Fighting for .500 is a futile exercise.

It’s relatively rare for a GM to inherit an empty franchise. I think the comps you need to be working with are teams like the Royals and the post-‘93 Phillies. The Pirates should be about 2 seasons behind the Royals (they of the best farm system in baseball) current development path.

11 years ago

“It’s easy to get to 81 wins, even on a tight budget”

Evidently it isn’t

11 years ago

The Royals at least had a contending season in 2003.

Royal fans who are younger than 30 have a memory of an exciting season.

The post 1993 Phillies are a great example because they had 13 out of 14 losing seasons… but that one winning season was a trip to the World Series.

For the sake of building at least some positive memories for the fan base, as the children born in 1992 are at the legal age of consent, to put SOMETHING on the field that isn’t god awful?

Paul Francis Sullivan
11 years ago

For the record, I am enjoying reading all of these comments.

Brad Johnson
11 years ago

Now you’re just being contrary. What I mean is it’s easy to get to 81 wins if that’s your goal. You go out and sign league average free agents, trade buckets of prospects for guys like Prince Fielder who will be gone before you know it and poof, you get some 80-83 win seasons without ever having the chance to break the 90 win ceiling.

If you want to get to 94 wins and you’re handed a futile franchise with perhaps one quality player and a no-more-than-$60-million budget, the only plan of attack is to target some draft picks in the 1-5 range. Probably about 5 of them. Which means fielding more really bad teams. It doesn’t matter that the franchise previously received similar picks because they were squandered.

11 years ago

They HAVE been drafting in the 1-5 range! And I am not ready to bust out the champagne and congratulate them on their success until they have developed some steady big leaguers.

Alvarez is a start but even he has only 1/2 a season more in the bigs than my dog.

11 years ago

“The Pirates have flopped in draft after draft, blowing #1 overall picks on Kris Benson and Bryan Bullington, and taking non-entities like Mark Farris, J. J. Davis, Bobby Bradley, John Van Benschoten and Brad Lincoln while passing on Tim Lincecum, David Wright, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Nomar Garciaparra (among others.)”

Wow. Kris Benson, Mark Farris, JJ Davis, Bobby Bradley and John Van Benschoten all happened two General Managers and several scouting directors ago. Bullington and Lincoln happened on Littlefield/Creech’s watch. The Pirates can rebuild through the draft and have been doing a fairly credible job doing so, so far. It’s just gonna take time in which the Pirates have plenty of it…

11 years ago

“I agree that Huntington has done poorly in the trade market.”

Ehhh…more of a mixed bag.

The Bay trade gets bad reviews, and perhaps deservedly so, but it was his first big trade, and there are players that are still in the Pirates’ system. That stinker of a trade the Marlins made for Cabrera and Willis(with Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill as co-GMs, apparently) was much worse, considering the caliber of player they gave up in Miguel Cabrera now vs. the caliber of player that is Jason Bay now.

The Nady trade was good…nay, great.  Everyone thought the Sanchez deal went in the Pirates favor until the Giants went and won the World Series this year with Sanchez, while Tim Alderson fizzled(as was already pointed out.)

The Octavio Dotel trade this season was a small masterpiece, netting the Pirates both James McDonald and Andrew Lambo.  Kudos to Huntington on that.

I would now, however, like to see him go the other way and deal some of their mid-to-low Top 10 or Top 20 prospects for a decent player who’s under team control for a few years.  Also, explore the bin of non-tendered players in December and come away with a gem(perhaps a 1B, like James Loney, should the Dodgers non-tender him.)

With the top draft pick in 2011, they could get Anthony Rendon, which could move Alvarez to 1B eventually, so a fill-in 1B for the next 2-3 years would be ideal.

And contrary to the tone of most of the comments and the article itself, pursuing a bunch of free agents to build a .500 team could easily be done, but wouldn’t be too wise.  Heck, they had much the same type of team back in 2007 and 2008 before Huntington began the tearing down and rebuilding.  Guys like LaRoche, Sanchez, Wilson, Bay, and McLouth might have gotten you 81-83 wins once or twice, but that would be about it.

Matt Bandi
11 years ago

“They’ve made horrible trades, dumping players like Jason Bay, Nate McClouth and Freddy Sanchez in recent years when they had trade value. Who did they get in return? Andy LaRoche? Charlie Morton? Craig Hansen? Gorkys Hernandez?”

This is an incredibly misleading paragraph.  You can make any point you want, if you simply throw out a bunch of cherry-picked names as evidence.  The Pirates received some quality players in those trades, none of whom are mentioned for some reason.  And do people not realize how poorly Bay and McLouth played in 2010?

It is also weird that the Nady and Dotel trades are not mentioned at all.  I guess it was easier to just pick the worst players received in the least successful trades and make the claim that all the trades were horrible.

11 years ago

Matt, can you please tell me how many serviceable major leaguers were acquired in the Jason Bay, Nate McClouth and Freddy Sanchez trades?

Matt Bandi
11 years ago

Sorry, worded that poorly.  They received quality minor leaguers for Bay and McLouth, players who have a chance to impact the team in 2011 or 2012.

11 years ago


i would rather have charlie morton, jeff locke, and gorkys hernandez than nate mclouth. bucs sold high. B+

bay trade defintely looks bad, but bryan morris could salvage some value. D

alderson for sanchez looked ok at the time, aldersons velocity took a big hit last year. he is still only 21 so there is time for him to improve. jury is still out C

nady and marte for tabata, ohlendorf, karstens, d. mccutchen. tabata projects to be a .300/.360/.450 solid defender in LF. ohlendorf is a very decent #3/#4 pitcher. big fat A+

11 years ago

As I said… I am a Pirates fan.
And I’ve heard the song and dance before of HEY! We got a great draft and if you just wait 4 years, maybe 3 of them will be Pirates long enough to be traded for 5 cents on the dollar.

I’m not ready to celebrate the brilliant work of Huntington building the worst team in baseball, trading away veterans for junk and having people say “MAYBE by 2020 you’ll have a watchable product.”

Meanwhile the Tigers can go from 119 wins to the World Series
Meanwhile the Marlins who DIDN’T EXIST in 1992 can win a World Series… tear it down… win another one… tear it down and put together ANOTHER winning team before my team can put a team together that doesn’t suck.

Meanwhile the Rays can draft players and make the World Series

Meanwhile the A’s can put together playoff teams in an awful stadium and no TV deal

Meanwhile the Padres can contend with a small payroll.

They can all do it. But the Pirates? I have to listen to people like you saying “HEY! Just wait 5 more years and you’ll have the outside remote chance to have a team that is only mildly terrible” and I’m supposed honor the Pirates front office for acquiring a decent AA player while I see the players dealt away winning World Series titles.

Sorry… until proven otherwise, it is Littlefield all over again.

Think that is harsh? It’s been 3 years, the team is worse and there is no hope for next year of the year after that.

But you are right… they’ve done a bang up job

I want ONE YEAR where my team isn’t a punching bag.

How many fans are going to wait 4 more years until they MIGHT become mediocre?

I love PNC park.
There’s always a lot of room to stretch out.

But seriously, why can other teams rebuild but the Pirates can’t do it.

We used to have the Brewers as our partners in futility, but they had a playoff series a couple of years ago and a fun finish?

What do we get?
Hey! The Dotel trade wasn’t a disaster! WOW! When do we schedule the parade?

11 years ago

Jobu, I assume that was a joke about the McClouth trade.

He was a solid young trade chip

They got Charlie Morton who is dreadful and on the wrong side of 25.

And they got Locke who was good at Single A.
They got Hernandez who was OK in Double A.

How can I possibly give a trade an B+ when none of the players are contributing on the big league level.

I’m a Pirates fan. I’ve seen a lot of players put up good numbers in AA and never produce in the show.

Bobby Bradley anyone?
Oh remember how awesome Duaner Sanchez was supposed to be?

I don’t three years is asking a lot to have a product that is closer to .500 than when they started.

So the McClouth trade is incomplete at best.
And yeah they sold high… as in they were high

Matt Bandi
11 years ago


None of those teams were put together overnight.  Here are the best players on the teams you mentioned that reached the World Series.

Tigers – Reached World Series in 2006
Carlos Guillen – acquired in trade before 2004
Brandon Inge – drafted in 1998
Curtis Granderson – drafted in 2002
Ivan Rodriguez – signed as a free agent before 2004
Jeremy Bonderman – acquired in trade in late 2002
Justin Verlander – drafted in 2004

Marlins – Won World Series in 2003
Ivan Rodriguez – signed as free agent before 2003
Luis Castillo – signed as an amateur free agent in 1996
Juan Pierre – acquired in trade before 2003
Mike Lowell – acquired in trade before 1999
Derek Lee – acquired in trade before 1998
Josh Beckett – drafted in 1999
Mark Redman – acquired in trade before 2003
Carl Pavano – acquired in trade in mid-2002
Dontrelle Willis – acquired in trade before 2002

Rays – Reached World Series in 2008
Evan Longoria – drafted in 2006
B.J. Upton – drafted in 2002
Carlos Pena – signed as a free agent before 2007
Dioner Navarro – acquired in trade in mid-2006
James Shields – drafted in 2000
Andy Sonnanstine – drafted in 2004

11 years ago


We’ve been waiting 18 years!
I can sleep with a girl who was born in 1992! (OK, my wife might object)

And your chart kind of makes Huntington look WORSE

You have a bunch of players all acquired within 3 or 4 years of the pennants… and going into the 4th year of Huntington I am supposed to praise him for…….?

I’ve heard “It’s a great draft” already
Until they become big league players, this is Littlefield Part 2

Matt Bandi
11 years ago

“We’ve been waiting 18 years!”

I thought we were talking about Huntington? He’s been around for 3 years.

“You have a bunch of players all acquired within 3 or 4 years of the pennants”

There are also several players acquired 5, 6, 7, 8 years beforehand.

11 years ago

We Pirate fans have been waiting 18 years…
And so far Huntington has shown that at BEST he is subpar at trading players, his draft picks are unproven and he has made a bad team worse

You will forgive me if I am not going to praise him until he does ANYTHING

Having a club that only loses 89 games would be a nice step in the right direction.

Now do you see this team NOT losing 90 games in 2011?

OF COURSE they are going to lose 90 games in 2011.

So that will be 4 years of dreadful baseball to go along with the lousy trades.

Exactly how many years of putting together teams that are Godawful is he going to get before, oh I don’t know… ANYTHING positive happens?

And don’t insult me by saying “Hey! You’ll get a good pick.”

I’ve seen pick after pick get wasted.
Again… I know he isn’t Littlefield.
But until the product reaches the unreachable star of “OK”, why would I praise Huntington until he produces something worth watching.

I know you think he should win GM of the year because he has done one good trade in 3 full seasons.

I wouldn’t mind seeing progress.

And I watch the Pirates.
Don’t tell me about patience.
Don’t tell me about draft picks and trading for prospects. The praise some of you lavish on the team is over a bunch of guys who aren’t even in AAA.

3 seasons should show progress.

I guess I am demanding.
I guess I am crazy to think that in 3 years the team wouldn’t be WORSE than when he found it.

matt w
11 years ago

“I guess I am crazy to think that in 3 years the team wouldn’t be WORSE than when he found it.”

Mark, you should look at the following article by Charlie Wilmoth:

He points out that as far back as 2007, it was obvious that the Pirates would be horrible in 2010, because Littlefield had constructed a time-bomb of a roster. Almost all the key players were scheduled to be free agents in 2010, and there were very few decent minor leaguers on the way to replace them. So yeah, it’s crazy to think that Huntington would’ve been able to improve the major league team in three years. The point is that he’s done a lot for the minor leagues, so the future looks better than it did when Littlefield was in charge.

(And this isn’t just hindsight; he provides links where he was already saying in 2007 that the Pirates would be horrible in 2010.)

Also, the Pirates didn’t get two 26-year-olds back for McLouth; Jeff Locke is 23. Are you thinking of Craig Hansen? Anyway, you have to be joking if you think they didn’t sell high on McLouth; if they hadn’t traded him when they did, they’d be paying someone to take him off their hands.

11 years ago

Did I say they got two 26 year olds for McLouth?
If I did I was wrong. I know who they got… the future.

The same future that’s been sold to us since Barry Bonds left.

Look, I know it is chic to look down on fans as silly and reactionary and I guess you are saying that “Hey, you’ve sucked this long. What’s 5 more years?”

But it will be 1/5 of a century that the Pirates haven’t been able to be mediocre. And I’m sorry, I am so sick of hearing about “this prospect will be good” and “we’ve got a plan” that I am saying “ENOUGH WITH BLATHERING ABOUT 3 OR 4 YEAR PLANS! Enough with the lame excuses!”

The Pirates had to trade McLouth. Fine… but how about getting ONE player back?

Why can the Padres deal a broken down Jake Peavy and get some good players back and we have to constantly hear “Aw, it is hard to make a good trade”?

Why can other teams have players come up from the minors who “play hard beyond their abilities” and the Pirates can never do it.

3 years is too long to improve?
They are WORSE! This was the worst Pirate team in 58 years! GREAT JOB!

And they will suck next year.
And the year after that.

Healthy people only have four 20 year periods in their life.

Sorry, all I’ve heard on this board is a bunch of people saying “Oh it’s harrrrrrd to draft players… it’s harrrrrd to make a trade… it takes DECADES to be mediocre.”

I still wear my Pirates hat.
They are my team.
I know for a lot of you people that’s silly and who cares?

But I am guessing you’ve had years since before Clinton was elected to cheer for YOUR team.

Until he proves otherwise Huntington is just Littlefield Part 2.

Can he make a trade? Nope.
Can he put players on the field who can at least play? Obviously not.
Can he draft? Maybe.
Is the team worse since he got there? Well they are the worst team in baseball… which I guess for you guys is satisfactory, but it’s not your team.

Heard that before. Been fooled before.
Heard about great prospects and long term plans.

Want to have a seat at PNC? Good seats are available.

3 years is more than enough time to make your team NOT the worst in baseball. I know that is a crazy statement, but I stand by it.

matt w
11 years ago

Hey, I’m a Pirates fan too. I wouldn’t care about this if I weren’t.

Anyway, Peavy >> McLouth. McLouth was one of the worst players in the majors this year, when he was in the majors.

11 years ago

Hindsight being 20/20 about McLouth

At the time he was a young All Star with power, speed and a gold glove.

That is worth… oh I don’t know… ANYTHING

Yeah yeah yeah, I know. We got some GREAT minor leaguers.

I’ve heard this story since the great rebuilding of 1993.

Until I see some results, this is the same old story:

They’ll stink… they’ll develop 1 or 2 decent players… they’ll trade them for 30 cents on the dollar… they’ll whine about how hard it is to reach .500 (even though teams with smaller payrolls find a way to win.)

Nobody wants to see the Pirates win more than me.
But I’ve been fooled too many times.

this is rebuilding #4 or #5.

How’s about some improvement before I praise anyone?

11 years ago

who gave the troll an article?

11 years ago

It’s all moot… they are in rebuilding mode #5 and I guess I am in “I won’t get excited until I see some results” and “Worst team in baseball with no hope for the next 2 seasons” doesn’t qualify as results for me.

I would love to be proven wrong.
But I’ve been burned too many times

11 years ago

Great post. Thanks. I’ve been fooled by the Pirates too. Stop the hurt!