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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Pittsburgh Pirates

Released OF Chris Singleton.

Singleton failed his physical, so off he went.  It’s only too bad that the Pirates don’t have the same stringent requirements for performance as they do for health.

Singleton will get a minor league invitation somewhere provided the reason he failed the physical isn’t too alarming.  He had an ear infection, but I can’t imagine him failing a physical for that.

Dan Szymborski Posted: March 11, 2004 at 12:37 PM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. WTM Posted: February 03, 2004 at 02:03 AM (#572254)
I don't see the Pirates' problems as having anything to do with conflicting agendas between McClendon and Littlefield. They both seem to believe very firmly that all veterans are good and all rookies are bad. Or maybe they just say this stuff because it's what McClatchy wants to hear. It doesn't really matter whose ideas they are, because that's where the organization is headed, eyes firmly closed and full steam ahead.

Personally, I think McClatchy is a money-grubbing moron who isn't willing to take any risks and insists that every action of the organization be based on today's cash flow. They seem to be in a sort of fantasyland where they think they're trying to win now and the fact that it's not possible isn't allowed to enter into the equation. McClendon and Littlefield are just doing what the boss expects of them.

There was a story about Napoleon, in the last days before his first abdication when he'd gotten further and further divorced from reality. He ordered one of his marshals, "Take your 30,000 men and march to such-and-such." The marshal replied, "Sire, I only have 10,000 men." A moment later, Napoleon ordered the marshal, "Take your 30,000 men and . . . ." Same reply, and moments later the same order repeated yet again. At some point, the flunky learns to say, "OK, I'll take my 30,000 men and . . . ." He even learns to tell the media that he has 30,000 men, with a straight face.
   302. WTM Posted: February 03, 2004 at 04:59 AM (#572257)
Lamont always resisted batting Kendall at the top of the order. He seemed to be bothered by the idea of a catcher hitting leadoff. He'd put Kendall there from time to time, then move him down in the order as soon as he had a couple hitless games. It was only in 2000 that he finally put Kendall at the top of the order for an extended period. McClendon, otoh, said from the start that he thought Kendall belonged at the top of the order and has batted him lower only when he saw no other option. So I guess you can credit him to that extent.

And just in case you thought the Pirates couldn't get any stupider, they've reportedly re-signed Randall Simon, to be announced tomorrow.
   303. Shiny Beast Posted: February 03, 2004 at 03:34 PM (#572259)
Great comments by all on McClendon.

I think I am getting a clearer picture now.

   304. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 03, 2004 at 04:04 PM (#572260)
Yes, Grady, he's even worse than you.
   305. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 03, 2004 at 04:07 PM (#572261)
"I think, however, McClendon's preferences just mesh well with McClatchy's already extremely risk averse nature. It's a positive feedback loop."

I missed this the first time through, but I think it's absolutely 100% correct.
   306. WTM Posted: February 03, 2004 at 04:31 PM (#572262)
"It's a positive feedback loop."

Or a village idiots' convention, take your pick.
   307. Charlie Posted: February 03, 2004 at 07:53 PM (#572264)
Thanks to all who proposed questions for my dad. He ended up asking about first base and the Randall Simon rumor... I thought they might actually announce it at the gala, but Lloyd actually said that although Simon helps on offense, he's frustrating on defense, and that they were looking at several guys and hadn't signed anyone yet.

He also said he thinks first base is too "fast" for Craig Wilson. So it sounds like they're looking to sign a first baseman (McGriff? Travis Lee?), and either Wilson or J.J. Davis will get jobbed.
   308. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 03, 2004 at 10:48 PM (#572269)
Most of Wilson's defensive mistakes seem to me to result from a lack of positional instincts, rather than a lack of effort or athletic ability. I think he could be at least an average defender at any one of his three positions, provided he was able to get regular practice and field time at that position for 2 years or so.
   309. Charlie Posted: February 04, 2004 at 12:37 AM (#572272)
ERH, there's certainly no debate here. But Lloyd McClendon said, today, in response to my dad's question, that Simon frustrated him on defense but he helped the offense. Since many of Simon's at bats came at Wilson's expense, it isn't obvious to everyone that Wilson is the better hitter.
   310. Charlie Posted: February 04, 2004 at 06:23 AM (#572273)
Sorta unrelatedly, Paul Meyer in the recent Post-Gazette Q and A:

"It does seem as if there's no hope for the Pirates - and let's not hear anymore about how the Twins and the A's have done it on relatively small budgets. That's why I believe there has to be some kind of sweeping change in baseball's economics - and as you'll see if you continue reading there are other people who think so, too."
   311. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 02:37 AM (#572496)
There are two potential silver linings to this huge pile of manure. The first is that the deal's contingent on Simon passing a physical, so there's at least a slim chance the signing won't go through. The second is that there are reportedly playing time incentives in the contract, so there will be (hopefully substantial) financial reasons for the team to avoid playing him any more than absolutely necessary.

Every day, I think there has to be a limit as to how much worse things can get. And every day, I open the paper, and things are worse than they were the day before.
   312. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 02:40 AM (#572467)
As feeble as he is, he'd still be a better pick for the team than Daryle Ward. If you're going to go with a useless player, always go with the useless player who made people happy in the past and who won't consume the whole post-game buffet by himself.
   313. Shiny Beast Posted: February 15, 2004 at 03:04 AM (#572497)
Vlad, you have my sympathies...there's really nothing else I can say.
   314. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 15, 2004 at 03:59 AM (#572468)
There's something to be said about a guy who reduces clean-up expenses. Hell, Dante Bichette would eat the whole table if something spilled, which saves a lot of dough on crew expenses.
   315. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 15, 2004 at 04:25 AM (#572499)
Somebody should dig through and add up all these useless contracts... the Pirates probably could have "afforded" an actual player or two. Would Miguel Batista have been that bad?
   316. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 15, 2004 at 01:57 PM (#572503)
Tony Alvarez and J.J. Davis are outfielders.

Who's a first baseman? Anybody.
   317. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 15, 2004 at 02:05 PM (#572471)
Every at-bat Merced gets at spring training is an at-bat that a player who actually has upside doesn't get.

Every team may sign players like Merced, but not every team has an established track record of rebuilding by signing these guys in order to screw over every player on their team that has a future.
   318. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 03:41 PM (#572472)
"How did Merced make people happy in the past? He wasn't anything special the first time he was with the Bucs, let alone 10 years later. Ward is at least still at an age where there is a sliver of hope he'll fulfill a small part of his potential."

Ward will be 29 this year, and he hasn't met even the minimum standard of competency for his position since he was 24. The chances of him suddenly learning to draw walks, hit LHP, play defense, or hit anywhere other than The Ballpark Formerly Known As Enron are almost vanishingly low.

Daryle Ward is NOT a prospect. He's filler, and he's being counted on to me more than that.

I don't have any sort of grand hopes for Merced, but he was a useful player as recently as two seasons ago, which gives him a higher chance of success than Ward, and while he was never very special as a Pirate, he did occasionally line a ball over the fence or make a circus catch during his seven years with the team. I don't want either ?ne on the roster, but if I absolutely had to take one, I'd go with Merced.
   319. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 03:49 PM (#572505)
Duke, Craig Wilson's been swinging between 1B and the OF. If Simon's at first, Wilson's not, and as a result in that scenario the team's best hitter is either sitting on the bench or taking PT away from Davis and Alvarez, which would effectively mean that Simon's taking PT away from Davis and Alvarez.

Of course, with today's signing of Mondesi, it's all a moot point. Alvarez is at AAA, again, Davis is off the roster, and Wilson's back on the bench.

I absolutely can not deal with this bullshit anymore. I'll watch the games on TV or listen on the radio, but there's no way McClatchy gets one stinking dollar from my wallet if this is the way he's going to run things. I refuse to pay for the privilege of being insulted this way.
   320. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 04:02 PM (#572506)
Also of interest: By my count, with the additions of Simon and Mondesi, the Pirates now lead the league in players with an arrest record.

Boyd: battery (2x).
   321. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 04:37 PM (#572508)
There's the potential for more, too, if they follow through on their plans to sign Urbina.
   322. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 06:07 PM (#572474)
See, I think it's more likely that the one with some recent track record of success at any level would be the one to bet on, regardless of age.

We can probably agree to disagree, since neither one's going to do **** this year, anyway.

I do know that if you added together the salaries of Ward and Merced, you could probably afford Jeremy Giambi.
   323. Charlie Posted: February 15, 2004 at 09:28 PM (#572511)
good god, BOTH of them. On the same day. This is so awful.
   324. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 09:31 PM (#572544)
"Kevin McClatchy deserves to be bankrupt and dancing naked at the bus station for nickels, not earning a profit."

Any time he feels like doing this, by the way, he can count on my nickel 100%.
   325. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 09:34 PM (#572512)
Like most of the guys on the list, Mesa's never been convicted of anything in a court of law. I just found it interesting that the Pirates appear to have gone out of their way to acquire players who, in the best possible light, have a history of placing themselves in questionable situations.

Much to my surprise, Urbina would add THREE charges to the list. There were initially two different firearms-related charges on his latest run-in with the law, and I'd completely forgotten about that whole nightclub brawl in 2000.
   326. Clyde Posted: February 15, 2004 at 09:42 PM (#572545)
Looks like they have 4th place just about sewn up.
   327. rpND Posted: February 15, 2004 at 09:56 PM (#572546)
This offseason for the Pirates may be some of the worst mismanagement of a team I have ever seen. These three signings are a collective kick in the crotch to any Pirates fan who had a glimmer of hope for the future. Excuse me while I go ice my groin...
   328. Charlie Posted: February 15, 2004 at 10:01 PM (#572547)
Agreed. I love the Pirates, LOVE them, and this is really pushing my loyalty to the brink.

In even more depressing news, KDKA is reporting that the Pirates are in talks with Bobby Bonilla.

I'm not kidding about this.
   329. Charlie Posted: February 15, 2004 at 10:02 PM (#572548)
... although I must admit that I did not personally hear the report.
   330. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 10:08 PM (#572549)
Well, anything's better than Stynes at third, I guess.
   331. Eugene Freedman Posted: February 15, 2004 at 10:38 PM (#572551)
I thought you weren't going to post likely moves until completed anymore. I figure that's why ARod isn't up here yet. Mondesi doesn't have a lot of suitors, but try to stick to the same rules.
   332. rpND Posted: February 15, 2004 at 11:06 PM (#572552)
Let's hope they just want Bonilla to be the Pirate Parrot. It's a pretty big bird, they need someone who can fill out that costume.
   333. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 11:14 PM (#572553)
"I thought you weren't going to post likely moves until completed anymore."

Dude, relax. It's in the papers and everything:

"On a day when the Pirates announced the signing of Orlando Merced to a minor-league contract, they also agreed to terms in principle with free-agent outfielder Raul Mondesi on a major-league deal.

Mondesi came to terms Saturday on a one-year deal that is believed to contain an option for 2005. The signing is contingent on Mondesi passing a physical. An official announcement on the signing will be made this week by the Pirates, who also plan to announce the signing of free-agent first baseman Randall Simon. "
   334. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 15, 2004 at 11:23 PM (#572554)
I like to wait for official announcements when possible.

You never know if Randall Simon's "official," but when A-Rod is acquired by the Yankees, one would damn well know when that one's official.
   335. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 15, 2004 at 11:28 PM (#572555)
And for anyone who's curious, on my DMB disk, in which virtual Derek Jeter actually displays real leadership qualities, Jeter is moving to third to make way for the better shortstop since that's what's good for the team.
   336. Charlie Posted: February 15, 2004 at 11:50 PM (#572557)
Pure Bull, are you making a joke I'm just not smart enough to get?

Why is Craig Wilson a "platoon guy"? He wasn't great against righties for a few months this year; so?

Mondesi has nothing to do with Tike Redman, since Mondesi can't play center.

J.J. Davis just clubbed the PCL this year, and he's out of options. He's clearly a pretty decent prospect, and now is the time to see if he can cut it in the big leagues.
   337. Charlie Posted: February 15, 2004 at 11:55 PM (#572558)
c. wilson, ops against righties 2001-2003: .790
   338. Charlie Posted: February 16, 2004 at 02:31 AM (#572561)
? thats a much smaller sample size for wilson

what's your point?
   339. pyrite Posted: February 16, 2004 at 03:59 AM (#572562)
How remarkable is this Pirate management trifecta?

1. Screwing the present.
   340. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 16, 2004 at 05:17 AM (#572563)
" thats a much smaller sample size for wilson"

It's all the sample size he's got. If you're upset that it's that small, blame Pirate management, not us.

" J. J. Davis isn't the greatest prospect in the world"

J.J. Davis is a 25-year-old former first-round pick with a cannon for an arm who last year finished third in the PCL in homers and put up a .896 OPS in a pitchers' park. As hitting prospects go, he's plenty good enough for a team like the Pirates.
   341. Kyle S Posted: February 16, 2004 at 05:47 AM (#572564)
I think the sample size comment indicates that while we might guess that Wilson can't hit righties, we KNOW that Mondesi can't. Awesome.

Why exactly didn't the Pirates resign Stairs? Did they not get the memo about the TPS reports? I'm sure the true Pirates fans must agonize about this all the time, but moves like dumping Stairs for Mondy, blocking key prospects with submediocre players like Simon, and having to pay Jack Wilson almost 2 million bucks for replacement-level offense seem, uh, suboptimal.
   342. Charlie Posted: February 16, 2004 at 06:48 AM (#572515)
The post-gazette reports:

Playing time for Mondesi and Simon will be split with Craig Wilson, who will play right field and first base under a plan to get him a season's worth of at-bats.

Not sure why they're finally coming to their senses, at least where Wilson is concerned. And it looks like Davis is REALLY toast. We'll see whether Wilson actually plays every day.
   343. NTNgod Posted: February 16, 2004 at 07:25 AM (#572566)
Keep it up, Littlefield. This Brewer fan approves!

$30 mil payroll or not, we'll be moving on up at this rate!

Reds and Pirates, here they come...

A lack-of-Selig in the future, a highly rated farm system, divisional GM incompetence....aah, sometimes it's good to be alive :)
   344. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 16, 2004 at 12:46 PM (#572517)
For the record, they said at this time last year that Wilson would have 400+ AB in 2003, and he ended up with 309.
   345. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 16, 2004 at 02:02 PM (#572568)
Mondesi might be "decent" in the field, but he's not anything more than that, and there's virtually no chance that he'll get better. He had 2.30 defensive win shares per 1000 innings in the field last year, essentially the same total as Manny Ramirez. He's not running around out there saving tons of runs with his glove, and at his age, the presence of reasonable speed in a past season isn't necessarily any guarantee that this won't be the year it goes.

Wilson's defensive numbers at first or in right don't actually look all that bad, though his ones behind the plate are admittedly a bit rough. He's acquired a reputation as a poor defender mostly through comments from Lloyd and the perception that a guy who moves between three different positions MUST be a poor defender, but it's tough to find a defensive statistic that had Wilson as a worse defender in RF than Mondesi in 2003 (Wilson wins in defensive win shares per 1000 innings, BP's rate2, Range Factor, Zone Rating, and even straight fielding percentage). I'll admit that he can occasionally look clueless on routes to a fly when you see him in person, but that's nothing that you aren't getting with Mondesi as well, and since Wilson's only played in the outfield for parts of two seasons as a pro, it's not entirely out of the question that he'd actually improve there if the team would just let him pick a position and stick with it.

Check out the two players' scouting profiles by STATS, Inc.: Wilson is "shedding the reputation of having an iron glove. He has made himself into a decent right fielder with improving range and an accurate, though ordinary, arm." Meanwhile, here's Mondesi's rep: "Long known for his strong throwing arm, Mondesi still has a gun. But he has a tendency to rush throws and thus be off line."

It's not sane or reasonable to penalize Wilson for not facing many RHP unless he's the one opting out against them, just like it's not fair to penalize Davis for not "establishing" himself as a MLB regular when he's not the guy in charge of promoting minor-league players. They've both done all that could be expected with the opportunities that they were given: Wilson's hit fairly well against RHP whenever Lloyd's deigned to allow him to face one, and Davis spent 2003 smacking around AAA pitchers because that's where Brian Graham decided he should play. To insinuate that they should've done a better job converting on opportunities that they haven't received is lunacy.

Reggie Sanders is, by far, a better player than Mondesi.

To me, it's also ridiculous to somehow give Mondesi a pass for failing to hit RHP in Toronto because he "never wanted to be" there. It's OK to struggle, as long as you whine and kvetch at the same time? There's a big secret here, and that secret is that Mondesi probably doesn't want to play in Pittsburgh, either. Think about it. The city isn't particularly large or high-profile, the weather here's generally cold and rainy, and the franchise doesn't have much recent tradition of adequacy, let alone excellence. The city doesn't have a large Dominican population to make him feel at home. Mondesi didn't give the franchise a below-market deal to sign here; he waited until there were absolutely positively definitely no better offers on the table, then signed without giving one media-friendly "just glad to be here, let's get 'em in 2004" interview. One year ago, he said that he would definitely retire at the end of his contract with the Yankees, and he also said that he felt like he was 37 years old going into spring training. Assuming that you're correct, that Mondesi could've hit against RHP in Toronto had he wanted but that he petulantly chose not to, what leads you to believe that he'll be any happier or have any more motivation this season with the Pirates?
   346. Charlie Posted: February 16, 2004 at 05:35 PM (#572571)
Of all the moves the Pirates made, Mondesi is the least questionable one, I think.

This is not saying very much. See Vlad's post for responses to the rest.
   347. Charlie Posted: February 16, 2004 at 05:41 PM (#572518)
Pirate fans: Pray for Simon-Mondesi-Stynes to arrive at camp out of shape and develop nagging hamstring injuries that will land each on the DL for half of each month all season.

That's a good point. I hadn't considered that they might get injured, which actually makes this all seem better. Now if Daryle Ward, Orlando Merced, Bobby Bonilla, Carlos Rivera and, like, Ed Sprague and Dante Bichette also all get injured, and if Lloyd McClendon has an aneurysm or something, J.J. Davis will get some playing time!
   348. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: February 16, 2004 at 07:14 PM (#572520)
So wait a minute, the Pirates are interested in dealing JJ Davis? I hope Duquette finds out about this before DePodesta gets him to LA.
   349. Charlie Posted: February 16, 2004 at 07:37 PM (#572521)
So wait a minute, the Pirates are interested in dealing JJ Davis?

Yes! Isn't this completely off the wall? A team going nowhere signs a couple of mediocre veterans to get in the way of one of its better prospects, who also happens to be out of options. Then they try to trade the prospect.
   350. Charlie Posted: February 16, 2004 at 09:42 PM (#572522)
To complete the cycle they should sent Davis to the A's for Frank Brooks.
   351. Walt Davis Posted: February 16, 2004 at 11:50 PM (#572572)
I must agree that the Pirates look clueless.

Clearly Bay, Davis, Redman, and Wilson (at the very least) should be getting the vast majority of the PAs in the OF and 1B. Signing one of Mondesi, Simon, or Merced (in roughly that order of usefulness) would make perfectly good sense as long as it was clear their role was 4th OF, backup 1B, etc.

A team in rebuilding mode could use some proven major-leaguers ... but not at the positions at which they have their best prospects. Davis will continue to not get ML experience (at least not with the Pirates, but if he's out of options then someone else might well give him a shot), Wilson will continue to be a platoon player, and next year the Pirates can go through this same charade again.

It was one thing to do it last year when they were able to land Sanders, Lofton, and Stairs. But Mondesi, Simon, and Merced are well below those three ... and the prospects who weren't ready last year are deemed still not ready this year.

Either way, it's a condemnation of the Pirates organization. Either they have to sign vets because they can't develop their top prospects to the point where they're even as good as a 33 year-old Mondesi or they can develop prospects but they're too stupid/scared to let them play. Both those spell continued doom for Pittsburgh in the future.
   352. Charlie Posted: February 17, 2004 at 06:03 AM (#572575)
Is it that hard to accept the simple fact that as a proven major leaguer, the Pirates might be better off having him out there day in and day out...than they would be having an unproven guy *make it or not*?

Yes, that is hard to accept, because it's completely ridiculous. Mondesi will not be on the next good Pirates team, but Wilson or Davis could be. Both of them are also likely to improve, while Mondesi is likely to decline, and both will be relatively cheap the next couple years. If Mondesi has a good year, he will be gone, and the Pirates will still be terrible. Small-market teams must depend on cheap young talent to be successful, and mediocre veterans that are not a substantial improvement over the young talent at hand actively hurt the team's future, especially when that team isn't close to contending. Not to condescend, but...

He's not old. He's not slowing down. He's got someone else paying most of his salary.

Actually he IS old (even if we believe 33 is his real age), he WILL slow down, and no one is paying his salary but the Pirates.

He wanted out of NYC because they wanted to turn him into a platoon player with Karim Garcia.

And he was right for bucking that...judging from what he did as a fulltime guy over the course of the entire season.

Maybe. Maybe not. But it doesn't follow from the idea that he's a league-average right fielder that he's a good fit for the Pirates.

Wilson isn't particularly young. Neither is Davis.

Wilson's 27; Davis is 25. Both much younger than Mondesi and therefore likely to get better, not worse. And they both have to stay with the Pirates the next couple years.
   353. WTM Posted: February 17, 2004 at 06:51 AM (#572576)
"Isn't the new park in Pittsburgh a decent hitter's park?"

Only if you hit LH. It's a great park for LH power hitters, bad for RH power hitters.
   354. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 17, 2004 at 11:58 AM (#572524)
Thanks, Derek. I'd almost managed to wipe all memory of that team from my mind.

How sad is it that McClendon was right for using Abe Nunez as his primary PH that season? I hope I never again see such a scrubby bench.
   355. Shoeless Joe Posted: February 17, 2004 at 05:19 PM (#572578)
As an aside, is there a worse city in pro sports at the moment?

I think that Chicago is worse, and I've lived here my whole life rooting for the home teams.

I hate the Cubs, their success pains me. They have a likable team and I love some of their players, but I can't do it. I tried rooting for them last year but it just can't happen. I wish I were more sane. I'm sure that Cub fans would say "we don't need you anyway, too late for the bandwagon."

The Bears had a great 3 year run-18 years ago. Since? One playoff victory, IIRC, and only a couple of token playoff appearances.

The Bulls had the good fortune of drafting Michael Jordan after two other clubs passed on him (Houston defensibly, Portland not so much). He gave them six rings to rule them all, and then the darkness came. They are a lock for their sixth straight lottery, with no end in sight. As an extra kick in the nads, they teased us into thinking they would become great again. No.

The Blackhawks were voted the worst franchise in all of sports, according to an ESPN pool. By their own fans!

My White Sox? They've won exactly zero playoff series in my lifetime. From Jerry Dybzinski overrunning 2nd base in the 7th inning of Game 4 of the 1983 ALCS (as a 13 year old I screamed "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!!" at the TV, only to weep as Tito F-ing Landrum homered off a spent Britt Burns in the 10th inning) to Dave Stewart dominating the 1993(?) club (rather than the "proven winnner" Jack McDowell, in a series that featured Bo Jackson whining about PT only to go something like 0-10 with 7 ks when he did play) to the Edgar Martinez homer off Keith Fouke in the 2001 ALDS (I don't think that ball has landed yet, and IMO the team never trusted him again despite his brillance) to teams such as the 2002/2003 squads that looked great-until they took the field; being a White Sox fan is to be set up to fail.

Do I need therapy?
   356. Walt Davis Posted: February 17, 2004 at 05:28 PM (#572579)
Is it that hard to accept the simple fact that as a proven major leaguer, the Pirates might be better off having him out there day in and day out...than they would be having an unproven guy *make it or not*?

Sure, they may be better in 2004, maybe by as much as 1-2 wins. Yippee.

Prospectus has Mondesi at 6.5 WARP over the last 3 years, most of that last year. So yes, even if Davis were to tank, Mondesi would add about 2 wins to the Pirates. Davis can't really be any worse than that.

Meanwhile the 2005 Pirates will still decide they have no one ready in RF and will decide to sign someone like Mondesi for fear of feeling embarassed more than they already should feel. No risk, no reward.

As I said, the signing of Mondesi or Simon or Merced are justifiable. The signing of all three is not. And none of them will do anything to help the Pirates teams of the future. It's not even clear any of these guys will be flipped for anything worthwhile -- last year the Pirates did not flip Stairs or Sanders and they flipped Lofton essentially for cash (i.e. relief from the Ramirez contract) and Simon for pretty much nothing.

And no, Wilson and Davis aren't young. That is a condemnation of the Pirates approach -- they're now 27 and 25 and we still don't know what they can do over a ML season. Next year they'll be 28 and 26 and we still won't know. How can anyone think this is a good way to run a non-competitive team?

If the Pirates' plan is to not trust their development system and play cheap vets year after year, then this is a doomed franchise until they change that plan.
   357. Charlie Posted: February 17, 2004 at 05:34 PM (#572580)
To the Chicago guy, please quit your whining. It's not worse than Pittsburgh or any number of cities.

Sure, they may be better in 2004, maybe by as much as 1-2 wins. Yippee.

Walt's right, but I would like to point out that this is not a sure thing, at all.
   358. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 17, 2004 at 08:53 PM (#572582)
If the Pirates' plan is to not trust their development system and play cheap vets year after year, then this is a doomed franchise until they change that plan.

Well, that's been their plan since 1998, so I don't know why anyone would expect it to change now. It won't change as long and Kevin McClatchy and company are in charge, because that's what the partnership wants - a team that won't have an embarrassing record.

Perhaps the best thing that Pirate fans can hope for, as awful as it sounds, is for all of this year's veteran patches to implode, and the team to lose 100-110 games *with* Stynes, Mondesi, Simon, et. al. seeing significant time. The problem has been that the imports have worked, sort of; the Bucs haven't been truly awful, and have shown flashes of being halfway decent (management loves to point out that they were over .500 over their last 98 games last year). I think that's unlikely to happen; they're just good enough to post a record similar to last year's, and management will be encouraged yet again.

-- MWE
   359. Walt Davis Posted: February 17, 2004 at 10:24 PM (#572583)
Well, that's been their plan since 1998, so I don't know why anyone would expect it to change now. It won't change as long and Kevin McClatchy and company are in charge, because that's what the partnership wants - a team that won't have an embarrassing record.

I won't disagree with that, but in most of those years I wasn't under the impression that they had much minor-league talent to plug in. That could be way off-base of course as I play squat attention to Pittsburgh's system. Of course they still don't have a ton, but there's just no reason to play a Stynes, Mondesi, Simon (not to mention Jack Wilson) over Wilson, Davis, Sanchez, Hill.

Stynes I'd forgotten about until mentioned. What an awful signing. Only once before in his career has a team been dumb enough to give him something close to a full-time job ... and that was last year in Colorado and he posted an 85 OPS+. How weird would it be for Stynes to have his first season with 550+ PA at the age of 31?

I mean I'm to the point of thinking that Bobby Hill ain't every gonna do much, but you'd have to be nuts to make Stynes an everyday player.

But at least Littlefield is no longer making the mistake of signing the mediocre or worse vets to long-term contracts. Granted, that cash is surely ending up in McClatchy's pockets, but it's a step in the right direction.
   360. WTM Posted: February 18, 2004 at 05:41 AM (#572586)
"But at least Littlefield is no longer making the mistake of signing the mediocre or worse vets to long-term contracts."

Of course, all this means is that the names change every year. Everything else stays the same.
   361. flournoy Posted: February 18, 2004 at 09:59 PM (#572588)
I'd be interested to know how many of the following signings Littlefield was responsible for: Kevin Young, Pat Meares, Kevin Elster, Jason Kendall, and Derek Bell.
   362. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 19, 2004 at 03:14 AM (#572589)
"compared to some of the worthless pieces of shiite Randy Smith brought to our team"

Like, say, Randall Simon?

Yeah, he was better in Detroit, but I couldn't resist the straight line.
   363. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 19, 2004 at 03:20 AM (#572590)
"I'd be interested to know how many of the following signings Littlefield was responsible for: Kevin Young, Pat Meares, Kevin Elster, Jason Kendall, and Derek Bell."

None, as I'm sure you're aware.

What was the point of bringing those guys up? They don't really have anything in common with each other; you've got a good signing that looked good at the time (Elster), a bad signing that looked good at the time (Kendall), a bad signing that looked justifiable at the time (Young), and two signings that were misguided from the get-go. You've got three long-term contracts, a two-year deal, and a one-year deal. Did you just pick a bunch of transactions at random?
   364. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 19, 2004 at 03:57 PM (#572593)
What was the point of bringing those guys up?

Clearly, the intent was to point out that bad signings for this team are hardly limited to the Littlefield era.

I don't want to harp on this all the time (really, WTM, I don't), but the Pirates have been on this path since 1998, pre-Littlefield. That year's Bucco team lost 25 of its last 30 games, mostly in embarrassing fashion, after a 1997 season in which the Pirates finished second (thanks mostly to several underperforming teams in their own division) and a close-to-.500 record as of mid-August 1998. Following the 1998 season, the voters of Pittsburgh overwhelmingly rejected the initial funding proposal for PNC Park, in part because the avalanche of negative publicity that surrounded the collapse made people more receptive to the arguments of the main opponents of that plan. It took a lot of backdoor politicking and a questionable use of Regional Development Authority funding for a financing package (the infamous Plan B) to make PNC Park a reality, with further negative publicity.

The 1998 collapse was largely blamed on *all of those kids* playing, with Jose Guillen and Aramis Ramirez being the poster boys for the team's need to force unready players into the lineup. It was in the 1998-1999 offseason that the first wave of mediocre veterans arrived -Ed Sprague, Mike Benjamin, Brant Brown, Mike Williams, and Pat Meares - and the team snapped back to a respectable 78-83 record, with some people blaming an ugly injury suffered by Jason Kendall for keeping the team below .500. Ever since then, the team has been consistent in signing marginal veterans to avoid playing those *unready* players. Sometimes those signings have worked - VanderWal in 2000, Lofton, Sanders, and Stairs last year - and sometimes they haven't - Omar Olivares, Armando Rios, Randall Simon. Meanwhile, younger players who demonstrated some talent in the minors - Guillen, Ramirez, Chad Hermansen, Freddy Garcia, Emil Brown, Warren Morris, Enrique Wilson, Craig Wilson - got occasional shots, even full-time play (Morris lasted two seasons), but if they didn't make good quickly, and continuing to play well, they were just as quickly yanked from the lineup amid very public comments about the things that they *weren't* doing. Maybe those players weren't good enough to hold a full-time major-league job - none of the guys who left, except for Guillen last year, has done much since, with the jury still out on Ramirez. But maybe, also, the constant negativity and drumbeating about their perceived shortcomings sapped whatever confidence they had; certainly Hermansen became very tentative at the plate since the Pirates began harping on his strikeouts, and Guillen was the same way until last year.

The Pirates, as an organization, have an attitude that their minor-leaguers have to be *ready* in order to play. That attitude stems from the post-1998 fallout - and IMO it comes directly from the one guy who is still in the same position now as he was then, the managing general partner. I have no doubt that Kevin McClatchy's directive to the GMs is that it's not acceptable for the team to swallow a *rebuilding* year a la Minnesota in 2001 and Detroit last year, and that the team needs to give the *appearance* of being competitive. Young players tend to play only if they are *scrappy*, like Jack Wilson and Rob Mackowiak - even if they don't perform all that well, they're competitors, and they give the *appearance* of a team that's trying its darnedest.

Grin and bear it, guys. We're probably doomed to 75-87 seasons for the foreseeable future - but at least they'll look good.

-- MWE
   365. RickG Posted: March 11, 2004 at 04:24 PM (#572894)
Harris can (theoretically) play second base, and Singleton had one good season. That about sums it up.
   366. Mikαεl Posted: March 11, 2004 at 04:44 PM (#572895)
Singleton is only a useful player if his defense is good. By UZR, he was excellent in 00-01, but merely average in 02-03. Pinto's numbers have him as average last year, too. If Singleton's glove isn't a big plus anymore, he is probably just a 5th outfielder.
   367. WTM Posted: March 12, 2004 at 09:43 PM (#572900)
The Pirates actually have a better alternative than Singleton now in Ruben Mateo. He's still only 26 and, unlike Singleton, he at least was a good hitter in the minors. In fact, even with all the problems he's had, he hasn't been a significantly worse hitter than Singleton in the majors.

Part of Singleton's attraction to the Pirates was that he was a "left-handed bat," and they've been desperate to add LH hitting. Being the Pirates, they never ask themselves why it's better to have a LH hitter who can't hit anybody than a RH hitter who can only hit LHPs.
   368. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 15, 2004 at 11:40 PM (#572902)
Bay or Alvarez could probably stand around in center in emergency situations as well.

I read somewhere that Singleton might be re-signed by the Pirates if/when his physical problem is no longer a problem.
   369. pyrite Posted: April 03, 2004 at 07:00 PM (#572060)
For the three remaining Pirates fans who still care. Hot -- er, lukewarm -- off the wire...

<i>4/3/2004 12:51:00 PM ET

Pittsburgh Pirates -
   370. mange Posted: April 03, 2004 at 08:46 PM (#572061)
Pyrite -

Where are you hearing the Benson/Bradley rumors? I have heard lots of speculation from the masses, but not any info that makes me believe it's likely. Do you know of anything substantial?
   371. Sam M. Posted: April 03, 2004 at 11:11 PM (#572063)
Milton look good in chaps.

Yo, Milton. How do you feel about apples? BIG apples? And mascots with a humongous baseball for a head? And the 7 train? How do you feel about the 7 train?
   372. Charlie Posted: April 04, 2004 at 12:13 AM (#572064)
I don't know about Benson, but Bradley to Pittsburgh has been floating in the Post Gazette and the Sporting News.
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