The Pittsburgh Pirates are not going to be good in 2011. Anyone who knows anything about baseball, and even those who know nothing, knows this to be true. Their lineup doesn't have a big bopper (Alvarez still needs time to develop), it needs at least one more good right-handed bat and the pitching staff is a bunch of four or five starters.
With all that being said, is it really necessary for fans and media alike to make fun of every move this team makes? Did you really expect the team to try and get the likes of Adrian Beltre, Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee and any other of the top free agents out there? If you did, you have not been paying attention to baseball recently. The only teams that could have afforded these guys are the big players like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, etc.
|Sure, he is better than Jeff Clement, |
but who isn't?
I hear a certain radio host on 93.7 The Fan make fun of the Pirates every day because while other teams are signing big name stars, the Buccos are grabbing Scott Olsen, Kevin Correia and Lyle Overbay. But that's what a small market needs to do. The Pirates, and many other teams in baseball, can't give out $100 million contracts. All it takes is for that player to be a bust or get hurt, and the franchise is set back years.
These critics of the Pirates will point to teams like the Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers making the World Series. All of the above teams had lower payrolls, but have been competitive recently. But here's the thing, they have been competitive because they developed their own talent. Tell me what big free agents these teams have recently signed. Pat Burrell? Jason Giambi? The key to these teams' success has been good drafting, player development and smart front office moves.
Just look at the Rangers for an example of a massive contract gone wrong. They signed Alex Rodriguez to a record-breaking deal in 2001. They never made the playoffs with him and could never afford to add more stars and pieces to the roster.
Then there is the case of Carl Crawford. After being developed in the Rays' system and becoming an all-star, he left because the team he had spent his entire career with couldn't afford him. Hell, they couldn't afford to even make him an offer that he might consider.
Of course, the Pirates have been terrible at drafting and developing talent for a long time. But that looks like it's changing. Scouts and followers of the game are actually agreeing with the moves we're making in the draft. It's not a quick fix, but it's the only possible one the team has at this juncture. Unfortunately for fans, that means they have to settle for seat warmers like Olsen, Correia and Overbay until their young crop is ready to take the reins.
Bruce Hornsby - Mandolin Rain