I am just a poor boy, though my story is seldom told(Paul Simon - "The Boxer")
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.
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.