The Pirates in 2011 improved from 105 losses to 90, certainly a significant step forward even though they remain a bad team.  With the playoffs still underway, however, they’ve made it clear that they intend to move quickly backward toward another 100-odd losses in 2012.  It’s long been known that they don’t intend to exercise catcher Ryan Doumit’s two-year, $15.5M option.  Team President Frank Coonelly has now added the news that the team is “unlikely” to exercise left-handed starter Paul Maholm’s $9.75M option for 2012, or to sign Maholm to a multi-year extension.

Make no mistake, these are significant downgrades.  Maholm has been an underappreciated pitcher for years, struggling along with a Keystone Kops defense behind him.  The absence of fielders who can catch the ball has left hi...

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