Are You Worried About Baseball in Pittsburgh?

Are you worried about the future of baseball in Pittsburgh?
Not whether or not games will be played, mind you; I’m more concerned with the quality of the on-field product. PNC Park ensures that we’ll have a team of some kind for the forseeable future, but will it produce any results?
It’s not exactly a new question, but it’s one worth repeating.
The Pirates are committed—for now, at least—to a core of young, mediocre players. We’ve heard it over and over again: The vast majority of our 25-man roster is locked up through the 2009 season. The more I watch these guys, though, the more I start to worry. Do I seriously have to watch Jack Wilson for two and a half more years?
I’d bought into Dave Littlefield’s plan, and while I didn’t expect much success in 2007, I certainly didn’t see this coming. We’re terrible. Is there hope for the future?
How long before we cut bait on this core and start to rebuild … for the umpteenth time?
Tim Dierkes at Roto Authority wrote about “second half rookie hitters who should be on your radar.”

Steven Pearce, 1B, PIT – Pearce and Walker team up for a potent 1-2 punch in Altoona’s lineup. Actually, they bat in the 4-5 spots. Pearce has been on fire in June after a rough May. He’s at .313/.374/.566 overall in Double A. Adam LaRoche probably isn’t going anywhere but Pearce will be pushing him soon.
Neil Walker, 3B, PIT – Walker has been moved to third base. He’s got a .925 OPS this year; there’s no questioning the former first-rounder’s bat. Jose Bautista has been hitting well lately, so a call-up isn’t close. But Walker could get a look in September.

Are Pearce, Walker and Andrew McCutchen the real core that we should be thinking about? Should we be putting together a team around Jason Bay, or around these guys?

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  • Ray

    I wish I were more confident about the major league potential of Walker, McCutchen, and Pearce. Hopeful, yes. Confident, no. Given the Pirates track record of “developing” prospects, I afraid that Walker = Doumit, Pearce = Eldred, and McCutchen = Bautista. Plus they’re all in AA not AAA, so I think they’re at least a year away, more likely two. On the other hand, how much longer can the Bucs continue to send Bay out to LF? As much as I like the guy, opponents are abusing him on the basepaths. Furthermore, he continues to get pitched around. He would have exceptional value in the AL as a DH who could play some OF. His trade value has got to be at its peak, and if we’re building for the future (as always) loading up on some legitimate prospects makes more sense than keeing him.

  • Cory Humes

    I’m not sold on Pearce and Walker either, but if you do commit to building around them, you can add three elite prospects just by trading Jason Bay.
    If you do try to reload, though, you’re almost certainly punting the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

  • tammy

    All of my 41 years I have been a Pirates fan. Why are we constantly rebuilding? Back in the 70s there were trades. Parker was steady for years. Stargell would’ve NEVER beed traded. Madlock was fixture at third. Pitching was NOT an issue. Then in the 90s, the same until the mass collapse and exit. Why? All this talent we are developing…Where are they? On other teams. They DO NOT stay? WHY? What is the point of building this beautiful stadium and have a poor team? Year after year… Fans come to watch THE TEAM, not the skyline. I was there when it opened and it IS beautiful. But c’mom, how about keeping the talent and paying for the TEAM talent instead of developing them out of AAA and then shipping them away or not paying them to at least produce a competitive team. I will always love my Pirates but I will always wonder what COULD HAVE been………

  • Cory Humes

    The problem is, Tammy, a lot of fans do go to games for the skyline … and the bobbleheads, fireworks, food and beer. A baseball game is just another night on the town in Pittsburgh.
    If more fans cared about the team’s success … if losing 90+ games year after year significantly decreased ticket sales … then maybe ownership would take the steps necessary to produce a consistent winner. But when PNC Park is selling out on weekends, what’s the point? The team is making money.
    As is, we have a mediocre core and do our best to patch holes with cheap veterans and other teams’ castoffs.
    The Pirates can probably reach .500 in the next couple of years with the team they have, but I’m not sure they’ll ever contend. Parker, Stargell, et al. weren’t traded because they were winners. The Pirates haven’t won for awhile, so in my opinion, no one should considered to be untouchable.

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