Monday, October 5, 2009

The Next Move...

I am just a poor boy, though my story is seldom told
I have squandered my resistance,
For a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jest
Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

Now the years are rolling by me, they are rockin' even me
I am older than I once was, and younger than I'll be
That's not unusual, no it isn't strange
After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same
After changes we are more or less the same.
(Paul Simon - "The Boxer")

Sometimes, GW thinks that song was written for Pirate fans of the past seventeen years. No matter who was the boss, after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same. How can Pittsburgh's suits flip that tune?

Everyone could see the 2009 train wreck coming; you can't entirely demolish a team and expect to have it compete when you turn your proven players over for a grab bag full of shiny baubles. Did it have to done that way? Maybe; it's surely open to debate.

Here's what they should do now if they want to restore trust with both the fans and the players, neither of which have reason to believe much that the suits say. Make 2010 the year of the Pirates. Focus on Pittsburgh. No excuses, no hedging.

Yes, the pitching was terrible when they got here. Yes, the minor league system had less talent than your average T-Ball team. We understand they wanted to flood the organization with players, especially at the upper levels, and some arms.

OK, mission accomplished. Four guys are left from the 2008 25-man roster; the payroll is down to $28M. A draft protocol and budget have been established, ditto a framework for evaluating international and Latino talent (although as the Sano situation showed, there's still a learning curve to be mastered).

If the suits want to continue their addiction to the waiver wire and minor-league free agents, well, knock yourselves out. Maybe there's another Garrett Jones or Steve Jackson out there. But prove to us that you're not in love with the art of the deal; build Pittsburgh a major league team.

After all, picking up a Rule 5 player in 2009 to send to Indy in 2010 or claiming a guy off waivers because you're "intrigued by players with options remaining" gets old.

Shortly some of the young hot shots will be bubbling up to the show. Pedro's due this year if he doesn't fall on his puss at Indy, and Jose Tabata and Brad Lincoln are at least on the horizon. The pieces are slowly beginning to fall in place.

Start filling in the holes. Is Ronny Cedeno the answer at short? We're certainly unconvinced, and there is some young talent out there that could be picked up in trade. It may be beyond the Pirates' ability to assemble an attractive package, but take a look, please.

The team is dying for some middle of the order presence. Quit telling us about doubles and gap power; bring in a big bopper that has a record of bringing home some runs.

And what genius decided that a bullpen without lefties was balanced? Fix that, and give JR half a chance. And what's this we read about the suits not even looking at another starter? We think a top-end guy is worth a flyer, someone like Ben Sheets who is looking to reestablish himself.

Does a rotation of Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke, Ben Sheets, Paul Maholm, and Charlie Morton (or whomever; may the best man win) sound a little stronger than what we're throwing out now?

The Pirates are in the situation now where they can expect a player or two to join the big club every year from the farm. It's time to quit worrying about Indianapolis' roster and worry about Pittsburgh.

The payroll has been cut in nearly half; don't let it burn a hole in your pocket, Mr. Nutting. Even Scrooge had his epiphany; aren't the ghosts of Pirates past. present, and future enough?

Dance to a different drummer, and get some players for Pittsburgh.


WilliamJPellas said...

I'd love to see J. J. Hardy in Pittsburgh, and there's a very logical trade that could be made to get him. The Brewers definitely need a starting pitcher, and we've got two good prospects ready for action in Daniel McCutchen and Brad Lincoln. I bet the Brewers would do Duke for Hardy, straight up.

Ron Ieraci said...

I'd take Hardy over what's available here in a heartbeat, Will. There's nothing in the pipeline with the exception of Brian Friday above Class A, and he's still looking for that breakout year.

And yah, pitching is what they'd want. I think it would take one of our lefties.

MarkInDallas said...

I like the idea of trading Duke for Hardy.

The problem with it is that, although both of them have 2 years remaining of club control, it's easier to trade a pitcher for good prospects at the deadline than it is to trade a shortstop.

Few playoff caliber teams are looking to trade for a shortstop at the deadline, whereas almost all are looking for pitchers.

So you'd have to be pretty sure that the Bucs could sign Hardy for longer term than just 2 years.

WilliamJPellas said...

Well, the thing is, we might not need him for more than 2 years. Even as a "bridge" to D'Arnaud and/or Friday as they come up through our system, I'd LOVE to see Hardy in black and gold. Not only because we'd get a still-young everyday shortstop with plus power for the position, but also because in this hypothetical trade we'd be getting an everyday player in exchange for a pitcher---albeit a better than average lefthanded starter in Zach Duke.

But absolutely, I'd still do that trade yesterday. Where do I sign?!?

Meanwhile, if Hardy returned to his previous form or something close to it, there's nothing that says we couldn't sign him longer term, say, next offseason or in 2011. He'd still be only about 28 or 29 when he's ready to walk as a free agent, and with his plus power for the shortstop position and solid glove, I'd be perfectly happy with him for the next several seasons, even if his batting average remains south of .250 (which it won't).

One thing is certain, we definitely have the dollars to invest in Hardy or a similar player.

Ron Ieraci said...

I like what I'm hearing, guys - mainly, that it's time to put together a ball club. Hardy would be a sweet first step, and I think that the players might get a little pumped if the suits brought in some bodies to make them competitive.

My guess with Hardy is that if they landed him, they would probably try to buy out his last two years and first FA season; they seem to like 3-year deals.

But they could let him simmer for a year to prove himself (a bit of a risk if he does come all the way back) and buy out his last arb year and first two FA years.

Three years is a good number; that give Friday, Mercer, d'Arnaud and company time to show if they've got the stuff or not.

MarkInDallas said...

It seems Huntington is a bit spooked by his 3 year contracts that he's given out so far, but I think that's probably what we would need.

Ideally, we will have a legit internal option at short within a couple of years. I'm kind of thinking it's going to be d'Arnaud, which means ideally he'd be up mid way through 2012, unless somehow he lights it up in Altoona next year and they promote him mid year to Indy.

I'm of the mind that the Pirates shouldn't just allow good players to leave in free agency, they need to trade them prior.

I don't think 1 or 2 picks really is equal to the value of the prospects you can get back from other organizations usually.