It would be irresponsible for the Pirates to win now

It’s a topic to which Pat alluded and Rowdy provided a direct answer:

Which is more important to the Pirates:
1. The window of opportunity that exists from having this group together until 2009?
2. The window that exists this year by the division being so down?

That was the question Dejan set forth in Wednesday’s Q&A. He, Pat and Rowdy answered the prompt similarly:

… why should the Pirates wait until 2008 or 2009 to employ a this-is-our-chance approach? Why wait until July to determine whether to be buyers or sellers? Why hold onto $4 million in unspent payroll? For that matter, why wait until those two years to raise payroll when it could be done now?
-Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Their goal right now is 2009, a year that’s too far away to know anything about. No vision is required to set 2009 as a goal in 2006 or 2007. You say, “the guys we have will be better and these guys will be here and we’ll be good,” and like magic you have yourself a three-year plan.
Pat, Where have you gone, Andy Van Slyke?

I am no fan of “five-year plans” or, more recently, talk of “2008” or “2009.” The plan which involves sacrificing the present opportunity to better seize a mythical, coming, better one—this plan always fails. This kind of thinking has a big part in how this team managed 14 consecutive losing seasons.
-Rowdy, Honest Wagner

I have never felt so wrong as I do now, typing these words: The Pirates should ignore any thoughts they may have of competing in 2007. Even in the miserable NL Central, this team isn’t set up to be a contender.
Three great baseball minds all agree that our opposition is weak and the division is wide open. That I can’t dispute. The Brewers and Cubs have talent but are underachieving; the Astros, Cardinals and Reds are playing as poorly as they appear on paper. Quite frankly, there’s not a good baseball team to be found.
Unfortunately, the Pirates aren’t world beaters, either. At best we can consider ourselves peers of the Comedy Central’s squads, which would presumably allow us a one in six shot of winning the division and making the playoffs.
For the sake of this argument, let’s toss the second tier out of the equation. Let’s say that the Brewers, Cubs and Pirates are the only teams capable of winning the division—a contention that is certainly not written in stone.
Still, assume we’re locked in a three-way battle for the Central’s crown: Would you consider the Pirates to be favorites?
Certainly not.
I’ve written in the past that our team is not a lost cause. The potential for achievement exists. Such a drastic turnaround would be needed, though, that it’s highly unlikely Pittsburgh could manage to sneak a step ahead of Milwaukee and Chicago. Those ballclubs possess more talent than the Pirates, and if we’re capable of performing at a higher level, they most certainly are as well. We can improve, but so can they.
The way to win this year, then, is to put to use the last $4 million or so of unspent payroll, or perhaps to even up the ante as Dejan intimated. Go for broke, I suppose, and take your shot now. Close the personnel gap, if you will.
But on whom would you spend that money?
This isn’t free agency, after all, and to get you must give—so Dave Littlefield would have to move talent in order to acquire a useful puzzle piece. It’s all well and good to suggest spending more money … but what are you looking to buy? What is a seller willing to offer?
Another arm for the rotation or bullpen could help the Pirates to be more competitive, but you’ve got to score to win. I suppose a bat for the outfield might help—a center fielder with some pop, perhaps—but there are few teams that would be interested in moving such a commodity, and the price they’d ask in return would likely be unpalatable.
Would you be satisfied with trading one of the minor-league starters for another team’s castoff?
It’s true. Dave Littlefield could spend a bit more and add another player that would make a significant difference in this team’s performance. But would it be enough? And what would the consequences be?
“I’m sorry, but we can’t afford to bid on a big-name free agent,” says Ogden Nutting. “You saw us last year—we added payroll in mid-season, we took a shot. It didn’t work out. Now we have to continue to rebuild.”
If it’s an either/or proposition—that is, if resources don’t allow us to take a shot both now and in 2009—I think we’d be better off waiting. Select an impact bat in the draft, pray for McCutchen and Walker to pan out, assume that the young pitching will only improve … the Pirates’ core in two year could be formidable. Now, though, not so much. I think we can have better than a one in six chance at the division in time.
We opened the 2007 campaign with one eye on the future. Changing course in midstream will only lead to a shipwreck, I’m afraid. Put those foolish thoughts of a winning baseball team in Pittsburgh out of your mind for now. There’s always next year.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Indians Can’t Catch Up to Bison

Next Story »

Game #54 vs. Los Angeles

  • http://none Brad Crouse

    Your post made me cry.

  • http://none Brad Crouse

    Which is more important to the Pirates:
    1. The window of opportunity that exists from having this group together until 2009?
    2. The window that exists this year by the division being so down?
    That’s a trick question, right Cory? The answer should be 3.) None of the above.
    There aren’t really any windows. This team actually stinks and wont really complete by 2009 becuase DL can’t build a team. And if they do “compete” the entire “core” will be free agents in 2010 anyway. This “window” is a frakking joke. Yes, this division is so bad but once the Brewers get back here and start whoopin on the NLCD it won’t matter anyway, thats how they’ll run away with it.

  • Randy

    The problem is that I don’t have any confidence that:
    1. The club is on pace to contend in 2009 or
    2. That DL could pull off a trade that would put/keep the Bucs in contention in 2007
    If you simply undid two trades, the Pirates line-up and rotation would look like this:
    C – Paulino/Doumit
    1B – LaRoche
    2B – Sanchez
    SS – Wilson
    3B – Aramis Ramirez
    LF – Bay
    CF – Duffy
    RF – Nady/Bautista/Doumit
    SP – Snell
    SP – Gorzelanny
    SP – Chris Young
    SP – Duke
    SP – Maholm
    If that is what the front line of this team looked like, I’d absolutely go for it in 2007. And I think the club – as assemble above – would have as good a shot as Milwaukee. The sad thing is that the club really shouldn’t be that far away from looking like this. There’d be at least three guys with more than 20 HR for the first time since 1999. Good front of the rotation pitching. I’m getting ticked just thinking about this.

  • Travis

    What happens if Bay, Freddy, Snell, Gorzo or someone else gets injured in the next 2 years? A scenario that is more likely than unlikely. Then DL is forced to make a move. Any move from DL is likely to be the wrong one. BTW looking back would any of you guys still make the Zane Smith for Moises Alou trade? I thought at the time it was a bad move given upside potential.

  • Randy

    The Smith for Alou trade would be a lot more palatable had:
    1. The Bucs won a World Series with Zane on the team
    2. Smoth developed into a stud, which really would have been surprising
    3. Moises not become a good player
    I guess I’d be inclined to make that trade if I had been in Larry Doughty’s shoes. He gave up Scott Ruskin, plus former #1 pick Willie Greene to go along with former #1 pick Moises. But the Bucs were only a couple of games up at the time. Tough call, but I think I would’ve pulled the trigger. I can’t say it was a good trade, but I understand why it was made.

  • scrappy2499

    I attempted to watch the video but it said access denied.


    Great work so far Kristy.

    One suggestion, I’d use YouTube for all your videos.  Other sites are not quite as reliable and their downtime is always way higher.


    Agree with CWPCWP – Youtube works but not the twitter thing – nice report enjoyed it 

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    6 hours ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    2 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    3 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    4 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    6 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    7 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles