The Littlefield Fallacy

With the recent non-tender of Matt Capps, I felt it was appropriate to address (and label) a certain line of thinking that exists amongst Pirates fans.

The Littlefield Fallacy: an argument that Neal Huntington is discriminating against players in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization who have been acquired by Dave Littlefield, and in the process of this discrimination, performing a mass exodus of Littlefield acquisitions from the roster.

In the past two years, Neal Huntington has done a complete overhaul not only on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 40-man roster, but throughout the organization.  The Littlefield Fallacy is often brought up as an attack of an unpopular roster move.  Some common examples have been the Nyjer Morgan trade, the recent Capps non-tender, and the John Grabow trade, even though Grabow was acquired by Cam Bonifay.

The problem with this fallacy is that it’s an unavoidable situation.  Following the 2007 season, the entire organization was made up of Dave Littlefield and Cam Bonifay acquisitions.  It would be impossible for Neal Huntington to remove players he acquired, since he didn’t have any such players.  Even after adding some players, the ratio of Littlefield/Bonifay to Huntington players is still heavily in favor of the old regimes.

The major problem with this fallacy is that it ignores a few key transactions.  Andrew McCutchen was drafted by Littlefield in the first round of the 2005 draft.  He is currently the starting center fielder.  In fact, the argument that Nate McLouth was shipped out because he wasn’t a Huntington acquisition doesn’t hold much weight, since his replacement wasn’t a Huntington acquisition either.  The same argument can be made for Brad Lincoln, and for Paul Maholm, who was extended after his breakout 2008 season.

On the flip side, Huntington has let go of his own acquisitions such as Phil Dumatrait, Luis Cruz, Robinzon Diaz, Craig Monroe, Eric Hinske, and Jeff Karstens, although Karstens is still with the team after clearing waivers and being removed from the 40-man roster.

The talent level of guys like Diaz and Cruz doesn’t nearly match the talent level of guys like Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez, and Matt Capps.  However, the bulk of the talent Huntington has acquired is in the minors.  The only major league success stories we’ve seen are Ross Ohlendorf, Evan Meek, and Garrett Jones, and unlike Bay, Sanchez, and Capps, all of those players are at the beginning of their control periods, rather than the end.

Overall there may be some truth to the notion that Huntington likes his own acquisitions over the players acquired by the former regimes.  That’s just human nature.  Generally we prefer our own accomplishments over something that’s given to us.  That’s why a piece of furniture you built is more likely to be kept around for years to come, compared to a piece of furniture bought from IKEA.  That said, the idea that Huntington is getting rid of Littlefield players because they’re Littlefield players is really an unavoidable coincidence.  The plan seemed to be blowing up the major league roster to rebuild the minors.  Since Huntington didn’t have any established major league players close to free agency, he could only trade the players brought in by Littlefield.

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Cruz’s Big Day; Four RBI for Gimenez

Next Story »

What is the market value for Matt Capps?

Latest Analysis

  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What Led to Keon Broxton’s Breakout Year in Altoona?

    4 hours ago

    Keon Broxton used to be one of the top prospects in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system. Baseball America ranked him as high as tenth in the system ...

    Read More
  • Adrian Sampson

    Don’t Forget About This Pitcher When Creating Your Pirates Dream Rotation

    1 day ago

    If you’re setting up a dream rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the not-too-distant future, then you’re going to be throwing out names like Tyler Glasnow, Gerrit ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    Jose Tabata Changed His Swing After Talking With Marlon Byrd

    2 days ago

    Yesterday, Jose Tabata put one on the roof of the batting cages over the left-field fence at Pirate City. Today, he added two more. By that pattern, ...

    Read More
  • Antonio Bastardo

    How Ray Searage is Trying to Fix Antonio Bastardo’s Control Issues

    2 days ago

    Tony Watson has established himself as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. Out of 142 qualified relievers last year, he ranked 21st in WAR, ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    Q&A: Will PNC Park Burn Down When Neil Walker Eventually Leaves?

    2 days ago

    Last week we started a Q&A article that will run every Friday. Right after the first article went up, we got a lot more questions. Normally I’ll ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow

    The Change That Will Help Tyler Glasnow Reach His Upside

    3 days ago

    The 2011 draft made headlines for the Pittsburgh Pirates for two main reasons. They selected Gerrit Cole first overall, and gave him a record-setting bonus of $8 ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More

    Advertisement