Many people in Pittsburgh would think I'm an idiot for a lot of reasons. One of them is unfair, though. I actually like the direction the Pittsburgh Pirates are moving in.
Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. The team will stink this year. But they actually have a legitimate plan in place that makes sense. The minor leagues are beginning to actually have talent that could be stars in the next few years. Under previous management, the the organization drafted players that had very low ceilings, helping extend the dark ages of Pirates baseball we've been stuck in for 18 years.
People think I'm an idiot for actually buying into this plan of drafting players with high ceilings and building from within. I understand how the organization and owner Bob Nutting have asked a lot of the fan base and many are unwilling to trust the Pirates now. But it still bothers me when you hear local and national media folk and Pittsburghers crying about ownership and their unwillingness to spend.
|Is there a more hated man living in Pittsburgh?|
The national media is actually letting up on the Buccos. Guys like Pete Gammons and Buster Olney occasionally have nice things to say about the team and its direction. Baby steps.
But back to the angry fans and the relentless local media. They are very quick to pointing out how terrible the team is. Look at Joe Starkey's column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review today. There is nothing new in this story. He makes fun of the Charlie Morton and the rotation and how the team will struggle to win. And just like the everyday callers to his and other radio shows, Starkey provides no solutions.
It's very easy to point out the flaws of anything. The real challenge comes in then proposing ideas that could help improve the problem. Oh, and spending more money doesn't count. Just saying "Spend!" makes it sound like that's the only issue. It's not.
I've noticed many critics never give a specific area to spend more money on. They might say on the Major League team, but that's as far as the realistic answers go. Maybe Starkey or others would have liked the team to bolster the rotation with a quality starter. That's a great idea, but what starters were out there this winter? Cliff Lee was there, but he would never have come to Pittsburgh and one starter would not have made this team relevant.
Or maybe the team should have brought in a big bat. Adam Dunn and Adrian Beltre were out there, why not buck up and pay these guys. Well, one or two sluggers doesn't do much when your rotation is terrible. I don't think the Washington Nationals did much with Dunn in the lineup. And Beltre has had two great years that just so happened to be contract years. The rest have been eh.
So now I'm asking logical people out there to provide realistic solutions for the Pirates that could actually help the team in the long run. It doesn't have to be a blockbuster move. Just something that could help the team get out of the cellar.
The Texas Rangers have a big slugger in their farm system named Chris Davis. He has received some playing time in the majors with mixed results. In 2008 he had 17 homers in less than 300 at bats. The man can mash. But he lacks plate discipline and strikes out a lot. We're talking Mark Reynolds-like. He had an excellent spring with five homers, 18 RBIs and a .362 average. He still had the strikeout problem, though, so the Rangers sent him back to the minors.
|Davis has excellent form when it comes |
to heading soccer balls.
Davis requested a trade. Why not try and package one of our crappy pitchers like Paul Maholm to the pitcher-needy Rangers for Davis? Of course, I don't know how realistic this is, but I think moves like this can't hurt. Maholm is never going to be any more than a No. 4 starter, if that. Moving him will not hurt this team. Davis may turn out to be another Jeff Clement, but there is no harm in taking the risk. Grabbing a young, cheap player with 30-homer potential won't make them division contenders, but it can be a nice piece.
One thing the Pirates are already doing, but I would put even more emphasis on is international scouting. These players don't have to enter the draft. If the Buccos can find some treasures that other teams miss, it could greatly speed up the process of bringing a winner back to Pittsburgh. The key is to find players that other teams don't have on their radars yet, because the Pirates just can't win bidding wars at this point.
Any other suggestions?
REM - Shiny Happy People