Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Note To My Many Irate Pirate Fan Readers

I evidently hit a nerve when I needled the Pirates for firing Joe Kerrigan and Gary Varsho from the coaching staff. Anyone who questions the passion of Pirate fans should take a look at my comments and also my e mail in box.

Pirate passion is alive and well, even if their team isn’t.

Let me say this, my Pirate fan readers, and be as clear as I can be.


Besides the Red Sox (my childhood team) and the Giants (my dad’s team) the Pirates are the team I would want to see win the World Series most of all.

I have written about why I like the Pirates… from my memories of the 1979 World Series and their great history.

And I’ve also said that an argument can be made that current Pirate fans are the best and most loyal in baseball, as they have a franchise that has given them NOTHING back in nearly 2 decades.

But I also am tired of the excuses.

Yeah they don’t have deep pockets and they’ve had to shed payroll. And yes, Dave Littlefield was possibly the worst General Manager in baseball history as he traded big leaguer after big leaguer for pennies on the dollar and constantly drafted players based on cost rather than getting the best player into their system.

But guess what? Littlefield has been gone since the end of the 2007 season.

At one point you’ve got to stop blaming the previous administration and demand some results from Neal Huntington.

Yeah, he is doing better than Littlefield in that he has drafted players like Alvarez and McCutchen. Plus taking a chance on Lastings Milledge could pay off. And Ross Ohlendorf has had some nice games.

But he is also the General Manager for the team that as of this writing is the WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL. And the bounty for trades like Jason Bay, Nate McClouth and Freddy Sanchez are still all in the “potential” category a year or more after they were dealt.

And while each of those players have dealt with slumps and injuries since leaving the Pirates, they were PRIME TRADE CHIPS when they were sent on their way.

Who did they get in exchange for them?

Andy LaRoche is a spot starter at first base and hasn't been able to put up any numbers of note.

Charlie Morton... who has been a bust and will be 27 next year, or around the time a player ceases to be a prospect.

Craig Hansen was as much a bust in Pittsburgh as he was in Boston. His career is in danger as injuries has pushed him all the way down to the Florida State League.

Brandon Moss has had a decent year in AAA but at age 26, he is

Bryan Morris has been adequate at AA. He'll be 24 next year and needs to make the jump to AAA.

Jeff Locke has looked good in single A. Forgive me if I don't get excited about him until he sees a big league game.

Gorkys Hernandez is OK... at AA.

Tim Alderson has been a disaster in A and AA with a combined ERA over 6.00.

Why are small market teams like the A’s, the Padres, and the Rays able to get players who can contribute on the big league level when they deal off a player but this ability constantly eludes the Pirates?

Why are teams like Marlins able to consistently put a team above .500 on the team with a smaller payroll and a worse stadium situation?

I am not going to praise GM simply for being better than Littlefield, especially since that assessment is only made on reputation. GMs presiding over the team bound to get the first pick in the amateur draft shouldn’t have adulation showered on them. They should be wondering if they have a job next year.

As for the criticism of Kerrigan and Varsho being canned, I will take a little step back from my original criticism… but not THAT much.

I remember Kerrigan being Dan Duquette’s pick to replace Jimy Williams in 2001 and Derek Lowe saying something like “Now the whole team will see what a prick he is.” Then again, as much as I love Lowe, he seemed to have issues.

And evidently Gary Varsho wasn’t a popular guy in the clubhouse. But when you are the worst team in the game, are you really allowed to be picky on your coaches.

That being said, it seems like they were also undermining manager John Russell and the dumping of these two is a commitment to Russell as manager.

Alrighty… better get some results.

If the Pirates put a winning team on the field, I will be the FIRST person to praise them. The Pirates should be one of the proud franchises and Pittsburgh fans, who had a lot to cheer for recently with the Steelers and Penguins’ titles, should be loving the Pirates.

It’s going to be 18 years this year and it will probably be 19 years in 2011 since Sid Bream slid across homeplate.

Now things could be changing, especially next spring when they will have a top 3 pick in the Draft and maybe get the ace the pitching staff so desperately needs.

But once again, it all is potential.

As someone who likes the Pirates, I am tired of potential. I want to see results too.

There are other bad teams that I don’t care about.
The Diamondbacks can keep losing for all I care.
I have no love lost for the Orioles… or the Royals… or the Nats… or the Mets.

If those teams turn it around, fine. I can be intrigued by a comeback story.
But they don’t intrigue me.

The Pirates do.

Now I know it can suck to hear someone outside your fan base saying this and it isn’t anything you’ve haven’t thought yourself.

But I WANT a higher number in the Pirates W column… starting tonight against San Diego.

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