Pirates Set Up Well For the Future, But the National League Has Some Great Teams

On ESPN Insider today,  Jim Bowden, Keith Law and Buster Olney teamed up for an article in which they rank the 30 Major League teams in order of how well they are set up for the future. The article is for Insiders(subscription required), so I’ll give a brief rundown for those that don’t subscribe. The criteria used for ranking each team is based mostly on the strength of the Major League club now and the minor league system. They also factor in the management, finances and mobility, which is their ability to move potential bad contracts, if there are any on the team.

There is good news and bad news in the article regarding the Pittsburgh Pirates. The trio ranks the Pirates as the sixth best team for future power. That is obviously the good news. They like the way the team is set up now and they like all of the top pitchers in the minors that are close to helping the big league club. Specifically mentioned in the article are Nick Kingham, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow, with Kingham mentioned a second time by Keith Law as someone who could step into the rotation soon.

The bad news is that they believe the St Louis Cardinals are the fifth best team and the Chicago Cubs, with their young talent and high payroll capability, are the third best team. There is actually a big difference between the Pirates and Cubs in the rankings, as the teams are rated on a 0-100 scale. The Cubs are rated 80.9 overall, while Pirates are a 64.5, trailing the Cardinals by 8.2 points.

There is also the matter of the Los Angeles Dodgers ranking second and Washington Nationals coming in fourth place. While sixth in all of baseball is a great place to be, being the third best team in your own division and the fifth best National League team, isn’t a great position to be in for the Pirates. The New York Mets are rated right behind the Pirates, so the NL looks very strong now and in the near future.

The Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers both rank among the bottom six teams in baseball.

News and Notes

  • pilbobuggins
    March 11, 2015 7:28 pm

    National pundits will always give the cubs and cards more credence than pittsburgh, it does have some merit with the cards as they have been a top organization for a very long time. The cubs however are a different story, we have all wittnessed cubs teams that were supposed to be great over the years, they have had many,many can’t miss prospects and to this date nothing to show for it. Until proven otherwise the cubs are still the other team from chicago.

  • Well if we are getting political, Long Live Richard III, Love Live the Plantagenets. May those Welsh usurpers smolder in a fiery hell.

    I think the rankings are correct, the Pirates success over the coming seasons will depend upon the returns they get from their large investments, both picks and dollars, in pitching. It will be interesting to see how the Cubs talent adapts to the majors, last season there were frequent quotes about the widening gap between AAA and MLB and how this is a very tough environment to enter for young hitters.

  • Although the Cubs do have some very impressive young prospects, they are still prospects. Baez looks very questionable, given his strikeout struggles. Soler looks legit, Bryant as well. Castro is a decent young SS, but makes a lot of errors and is inconsistent at the plate. They still lack pitching, beyond Lester. I think they are overrated, because they are the Cubs. Until they actually do something, they don’t belong in the same conversation as the teams listed in the top 6. In fact, because of their pitching and Stanton, I would rate the Marlins ahead of the Cubs.

    • This was my thought also. It’s a 5 year projection. I can picture them winning the division in year 4 or 5, but they will still struggle the next 3 years as they have league high strikeout rates.

  • Although this points system seems terribly silly, not sure I can really disagree with the outcome.

    After all, this is an outcome you should *expect* from Major League Baseball’s financial system.

    The Pirates have done a remarkable job assembling smart, talented folks to run their organization, and the results of that labor are starting to show. They wouldn’t be ranked where they are without that being the case.

    But there simply is not *that* much of an information gap between good Front Offices, and the teams ahead of the Pirates most certainly fit that description. And at that point, yes, finances absolute should be a logical separator.

    • This is exactly what aggravates me about the MLB. Sure money isn’t that big a deal without smart baseball management but add them together and there is a clear advantage over teams without the same money (even if they have smart baseball management). Luckily the playoffs are pretty much a lottery draw, but imagine if the Pirates had an extra 30 or 40 million to spend, they could have been the team to go out and get a top of the rotation starter to add to an already good team. Now maybe even with the added money they still wouldn’t be able to sign Scherzer or James Shields (as maybe they specifically wanted to sign with the Nats and Padres), but maybe they could have signed Jon Lester.

      • You’re exactly right about the playoffs, which is why it really doesn’t matter much anymore about how many wins you put up, as long as you put up enough to get that 2nd wild card.

        There are guys on this board that still will trot out the we-don’t-need-money, just-gotta-be-smarter logic and I can never tell if it comes from a place of faux-libertarianism or they simply do not pay attention to any other Major League Front Offices.

        • When someone is a fan it clouds their logic. There is nothing wrong with that unless it reaches lunacy.

  • The Pirates will always lose points because of the size of the team’s market. That said, I like the Pirates talent more than I do the Cards and Cubs. If everything breaks right, the Pirates have the talent to win > 100 games in multiple seasons.

    Knock on wood.

    • Agreed as it pertains the the Cardinals as they currently are, but its tough to say the Cubs arent positioned basically equally as well as us going forward. If everything breaks right for the Cubs, its an offense better than any in baseball (with 2 SS capable of being at least solid starters). I think PIT is set up well, but the Cubs really are 1 front line like SP away from an above average bullpen and a really young but really talented offense (though with a good deal of Ks). PIT is just a few years ahead of CHC in terms of progression of insane amount of young talent.

      • The Cubs no doubt have some amazing hitters ready to make the jump to the MLB, but I don’t think their pitching is very strong. Then again, the Cubs can afford to go out and buy pitching.

        • Id argue their pitching is not all that different from PIT currently, and PIT is hoping (with a good deal of certainty) that Taillon becomes a TOR arm and Kingham sits somewhere in the mid rotation. If Taillon were, for some reason, to develop more into a mid rotation arm it leaves PIT with a lack of TOR arms (even if Cole takes a step forward) while CHC has one and likely will overpay for another in FA.

          • The Cubs have Edwards and Johnson right now, I’d say Edwards is somewhere between Kingham and Taillon where as Johnson is on the same level as Kingham (if not a little below). The Pirates have Glasnow though. I don’t think we disagree otherwise.

            • Right, i think PIT has a bit better options in the farm, and CHC has Lester that is a better option longterm than anything PIT has but Cole…and Cole has to take a step to be that Lester type arm.

    • Will Sanchez
      March 11, 2015 8:38 am

      the yr that that happens, the cubs will win 102 and the cards will win 104.
      CUTCH can not carry this team and he is not getting any help either..

      • Huh? Cutch is certainly the best player on the team but that doesn’t mean he is carrying the team by himself. There are plenty of other good players on the Pirates that are helping them win 88+. If the rotation is better this year the Pirates will probably win 93 or 94 games.

        • we won 88 gms by beating the cubs 15 out of 19 tries..bet it won’t happen this yr.

          • They also went 7-12 against the Reds, 7-12 against the Brewers and 8-11 against the Cardinals. What if they do better against those teams? Just because they might not do as well against the Cubs doesn’t mean the Pirates can’t win 93 or 94 games. Let’s say the Pirates win 5 less games against the Cubs, they could win 4 more against the Brewers, 3 more against the Reds, 1 more against the Cardinals and 2 more against the Braves. That would be 93 wins.

            • Yeah, study after study has shown little to no correlation between “strength of schedule” and wins in Major League Baseball. Simply too many unpredictable moving parts.

              But it’s not like facts are going to change the minds of anyone in this conversation.

            • Will Sanchez
              March 11, 2015 1:59 pm

              In order to win 93 games we need the dodgers or the Nats, Rotation. Ours is ave at best. and we are going to have 6 or so rookies(less than 1yr exp) ,Liz,Caminero,Pimentel (sitting on the bench does not count),Holdzkom ,Sanchez,Lambo and Kang

      • Cutch will not get any help?

        • Will Sanchez
          March 11, 2015 5:13 pm

          The PBC won,t spend the $. with Martin (having a career yr) Walker (they won’t extend him),Marte, and Harrison and Cutch having good yrs, we still did not get anywhere, so if you only have Cutch and ?. Who will replace Martin,and Walker’s production?

          • Does spend money mean only in FA? Or can i use things like extensions to Cutch, Marte, Morton as proof of spending….along with one of the more aggressive Latin America programs in baseball…..along with the highest payroll in many years this year….along with continually making moves at the deadline that have increased payroll in year (Lee, Byrd, Morneau). Put down the drum that you wont stop beating and do anything else.

            • The Pirates prudently spend money. They do not spend much on free agents. They draft and sign quality prospects whenever they can. Their drafts are consistently strong and Gayo has worked miracles in Latin America. They may soon have the best outfield and rotation in the Majors. That expectation does not include Bell, Hanson, Meadows, McGuire Ramirez, etc. It does not include the next breakout pitcher the Pirates draft as a projectable prospect. Nor does it include the miracles Serage and Benedict might perform on future reclamation projects.

              The future looks good.

            • Will Sanchez
              March 11, 2015 7:28 pm

              please re-read..in 2001 we had a 2001 66m 108 m revenues thats a 61% payroll and in 2013 78m 204 m revenues thats 38%
              so you can clearly see that payrroll has gone DOWN as % as revenues doubled.

              • As usual, im glad you know so many facts about the exact finances of a team that…..has not released that info. You are either the dick son of Nutting who hates his dad, or you are (per usual) using assumption without care for alternate possibilities. The fact that no one could say anything that gets you to even try to realize the other side of the argument shows you arent interested in having the argument, but pursuing an agenda.

              • source

                • forbes.com/mlb-valuations/,forbes.com/pictures/mlm45fdgdd/23-pittsburgh-pirates/bloomberg.com/infographics/2013-10-23/mlb-team-values,://awfulannouncing.com/2013/how-mlb-splits-your-tv-dollars,bizofbaseball, etc

                  • Ah okay, so estimates and guesses not to mention incomplete evaluations meant only to be taken as a rough guide for the casual reader.

            • pilbobuggins
              March 11, 2015 7:30 pm

              When your right your right and I give you credit for it. It don’t happen very often so here’s your pat on the back, don’t let it go to your head.

              • Not to nit pick, but since that was the most condescending post in awhile, its you’re not your. Im a stickler for trying to spell correctly when coming off as talking down to someone.

                • pilbobuggins
                  March 12, 2015 2:32 am

                  : (: ): ): ):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):) turn that frown upside down ya grumpy guy ya.

  • “I’d just be happy to be in there somewhere” – Navin R Johnson

  • Isn’t it wonderful that these issues in MLB usually play out differently on the field ? I would have liked to have seen how these geniuses would have done these rankings even 2 years ago. Bowden, for one, is about as myopic as one with his information track can be. As a long time Pirate fan and follower, I will leave them out of this discussion and say this : anyone who sells the Cardinals short isn’t really thinking straight.

  • Scott Kliesen
    March 10, 2015 6:04 pm

    With as little disrespect as possible, I’ll file this one in same place as Al Gore’s prediction the iceberg’s would all melt by this year.

    These guys couldnt pick the WS participants at the onset of the playoffs last year, yet we’re supposed to be worried about how the Pirates are positioned years from now based on their insight? No thanks, I’ll choose not to live in fear because of Al Gore or ESPN pundits.

    • Your climate reference is stupid. Did you think you were on Red State ? Because this is a baseball oriented blog I will let it go at that.

      • Isn’t Scott mixed up between icebergs and glaciers anyway (just curious for anyone familiar with the reference)? Confusion between punctuating plural and possessive (“iceberg’s”) is typically a dead giveaway of education level.

        • Scott Kliesen
          March 10, 2015 9:35 pm

          Now I know where Charles Schultz got his inspiration for Charlie Brown’s teacher voice. Thanks for clarifying that for me Davey.

          • Hesleepswiththefishes
            March 12, 2015 8:09 am

            I assume you are referring to “Charles Schulz” not ‘Schultz’

        • People like him are those that are now revising history to fit their political narrative. I am not surprised that he would believe liars rather than NASA scientists tracking the glacier meltdown.

          • Global warming is often treated as a binary issue, as though everybody either rejects the idea completely or completely accepts it as fact and would do anything to stop it.

            Isn’t there a third position that is perfectly reasonable: acceptance that there is global warming while rejecting the idea that the federal government can (or even wants to) help?

            I am not a G/W denier. But I don’t trust the government to do anything about it. I believe public officials in both parties simply use it as a means to convince people to give up more freedom and money to government control.

            Also, as a huge fan of Canada, I believe some global warming might actually make northern Quebec a nicer place to live. It is beautiful up there.

            Go Bucs.

      • Scott Kliesen
        March 10, 2015 9:27 pm

        When I was a kid, we were told another ice age is coming. Forgive me, but those who put their faith in those who predict the future are the stupid ones.

        • Fair to say that you dont wanna put your faith in someone predicting the future….but wouldnt an intelligent person at least look at the backing to what that person is saying? You can challenge the effect some things have on certain aspects, but going with the “Gore was wrong, things aint doing what he said” is factually dumb. Its akin to the guy throwing the snowball in congress and acting like it proves something, when weather does not equal climate. Also, its a baseball blog.

          • Scott Kliesen
            March 11, 2015 5:50 am

            You’re right, it’s a baseball blog. The point I was attempting to illustrate was a certain segment of society preys on another segment of society by playing to their fears. At it’s core, the message Al Gore communicated was we’re all doomed if we don’t change the way we live.

            And at it’s core, Tim’s article was the same doom and gloom bs based upon “expert” predictions.

            • Will Sanchez
              March 11, 2015 8:48 am

              i believe tim was stating what the article said for those of us that do not have an “insider acct”, Tim is mostly a rah rah for the Bucs person. We have disagreed on many points because of it. AS A CAUTION TO YOU, THE PEOPLE ON THIS BLOG WILL “TAR AND FEATHER YOU AND RUN YOU OUT OF TOWN ” if you don’t believe that the Hunt-Coon is the best in the MLB, that when they fart “it’s the best SMELL ever” etc. etc.

              • You guys are still hanging around?

                I thought for sure yall had crawled back under the rocks whence you came when the Pirate started winning and everything you railed on about for the first five years of “Hunt-Coon” turned out to be laughably, embarrassingly wrong.

                • Will Sanchez
                  March 11, 2015 1:31 pm

                  WS in your dreams, NL champions,hah hah hah NL central div. winners naah. Lucky to get into the playoffs last yr..You know what the say “better lucky than good”

                  • They do exist!

                    I thought your kind had gone extinct somewhere around the time you actually learned what “lightning in a bottle” meant.

            • Did you ever consider that maybe you are in a segment of society that is being preyed on by another segment of society? There is a lot of misinformation about climate change out there pushed by the oil industry, misinformation you very well might be buying into just to avoid being part of a different segment.

              • Scott Kliesen
                March 11, 2015 11:41 am

                I don’t trust that lot to tell the truth either. I only trust God created the earth and fine tuned it to such a degree that we will never fully comprehend it.

                “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord.

                -Isaiah 55:8

                • Politics, climate change and now religion. Man, you’re batting 1.000 today aren’t you. Pun intended. I respectfully request that you stick to baseball on these forums regardless of how much disrespect you intend.

                  • Scott Kliesen
                    March 11, 2015 12:51 pm

                    if you don’t like the answer, don’t ask the question.

                    • My question was rhetorical but yeah, I’m sorry for not mentioning that it was a rhetorical question. I can’t really stop you from picking the science you like and the science you don’t like. Still, it is pretty ironic that you would come back with what amounts to a “the wise man knows that he knows nothing” quote after originally making such a grossly ignorant analogy.

                    • Scott Kliesen
                      March 11, 2015 5:35 pm

                      “Grossly ignorant!” Um, ok.

                      Taking a snapshot in time of any set of data and use this information to forecast the future is almost always an exercise in futility.

                      It was for Al Gore and it almost certainly will be for the ESPN baseball experts referenced in this article, too.

                      Hey, feel free to join the chorus of Chicken Little’s yelling the sky is falling. Just don’t expect everyone to buy in.

                    • Good job building that straw-man and knocking it down!
                      FYI, in case you missed it, “taking a snapshot in time of any set of data and use this information to forecast the future” is not how climate science works nor is it what Al Gore referenced. Also, Al Gore isn’t a scientist. Also, science isn’t a “chorus of Chicken Little’s yelling the sky is falling”, that would be the garbage that the oil industry want’s you to believe so they can keep the status quo and make money now.
                      It wasn’t too long ago that the oil industry spent millions to try and convince people that lead in gasoline was perfectly fine. It wasn’t too long ago that cigarette companies spent millions to try and convince people that smoking doesn’t cause health problems.
                      You’re skepticism of climate science is unjustified. You should try applying your level of skepticism to the anti-climate science crowd.

                    • Sorry I missed this debate. Your critiques of the oil industry and cigarette industry are justified 7. But the “industry” that is writing the “climate science” papers is also bought and paid for by the “global left”. A thinking person evaluates both sides of an issue critically. Al Gore is not a scientist, but a politician who attempted to force (and get rich from) a solution to an hysteria he promoted. The models predicting global warming are too simplified to correctly predict nature’s future. The sun’s radiation intensity varies substantially with time is one significant variable that is ignored. Warming produces clouds which reflect sunlight which acts as negative feedback working against the re-radiation of IR from CO2 is another. There is substantial evidence that we may actually be entering a period of global cooling, not warming. There are many climate scientists who are skeptical of global warming. The (former) head of the meteorology department (don’t remember the exact title of the school) at MIT is one. But there are hundreds of others, they just aren’t publicized by the press. I’ve known a number of climate scientists both academic and commercial. The one making the most money (he makes millions selling accurate weather forecasts to Home Depot, Wal Mart and their ilk so they have enough snow shovels for blizzards and bottled water for floods etc.) thinks global warming is complete BS.. So please don’t think that the discussion about global warming is a “done deal” and that only the smart people think as you do.

                    • What “industry” is writing the “climate science” papers? Do you mean science is an industry? No, science is not an industry. So science is bought and paid for by the “global left”? What is the “global left”? Does the “global left” have more money than the oil, coal and gas industry? If science can be bought and paid for, why doesn’t the oil, coal and gas industry just buy the science? Is the oil/coal/gas industry not as rich and powerful as the “global left”? Willie Soon seemed to be doing pretty well receiving funding from the oil industry.
                      What do you mean by both sides? Science only has one side, and a thinking person evaluates the science. Science is self correcting, regardless of what people like Al Gore do. I really have no interest in Al Gore and his movies or what he has to say as he is not a scientist. I have interest in what qualified peer reviewed science has to say. Hysteria? Reporting conclusions on scientific research is not hysteria. You might be conflating media with science as I’d completely agree that the mainstream media is notorious for sensationalism and generating hysteria. That’s why I almost completely ignore mainstream media.
                      Please share your source for the substantial evidence that we are entering a period of cooling. To save time, I mean a scientifically peer reviewed journal source. Problem with other sources is they almost always cherry pick the data (or they are just plain making things up). The cherry picking is usually done by picking specific time periods or localized data and then drawing incorrect conclusions from the data to fit their narrative. Climate Science requires one to look at the big picture and all the data to even begin to come close to being able to draw conclusions (and that includes sun activity and water vapor). As I said, the oil/coal/gas industry is pushing misinformation (including sun activity and water vapor).
                      The MIT scientist you’re likely referring to is probably Richard Lindzen but maybe not. Lindzen has often been taken out of context by the anti-climate change crowd as Lindzen actually agrees that Global Warming is occurring, he only is critical of the media sensationalism and is skeptical of how much impact human activity has. I’d agree, how much impact we have on climate change is still unclear. If you were referring to a different MIT scientist, I’d be interested in learning more about what they have to say.
                      You might be making the mistake of assuming I don’t research “both sides” when actually I do.

                    • Now THAT comment is hilarious !

                • This is as close to scripture that should be quoted on the site;

                  you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better
                  for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting
                  your time on this earth.”

                  -Clemente 60:71

                • “I only trust God created the earth and fine tuned it to such a degree that we will never fully comprehend it.”

                  Humans do not need to comprehend wholly and without a bit of doubt the earth. What humans need to comprehend is this: By releasing tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, they will have condemned the many species that cannot survive but in the ecological conditions that define the Holocene.

                  Predicting the future is not at all difficult: 2 ➕ 2 will sum to 4 eternally; tomorrow, the earth will continue its rotation around the sun; etc.

                  • Well said, but I fear your effort will be wasted as he thinks the Earth was/is “fine tuned”, which is a concept wrong on so many countless levels.

                    • Scott Kliesen
                      March 11, 2015 6:58 pm

                      What I find ironic is you most likely believe the device you used to post this comment was fine tuned for its’ purpose, yet you fail to recognize the earth which gave the designers the materials to make the device was fine tuned for its’ purpose.

                    • I’m an atheist. The planet mimics the universe as a whole. It has no purpose; it fails to express an intention; it lacks a designer.

                    • Scott Kliesen
                      March 11, 2015 7:52 pm

                      Noted Atheist, Stephen Hawking, has determined at the moment the Universe came into existence, if it’s rate of expansion was faster or slower by something like even 10 to the billionth power of a second, it would’ve collapsed on itself.

                      Thus to believe the Universe is not a byproduct of a Creator is to believe we are as lucky to be here as someone who has the luck to win Power Ball tonight and every other night there’s a drawing for the rest of my life.

                      Might want to go buy a ticket.

                    • Yes, it’s true. The universe and everything within it exists because an improbable, unintended event happened. So what.

                    • Scott Kliesen
                      March 12, 2015 7:16 am

                      An improbable, unintended event happened. You can no more prove that than I can prove it was spoken into existence by God. In either case, a leap of faith is required. What’s the upside of believing as you do since you’ll never know if you’re right? Especially since the consequences of being wrong are catastrophic?

                    • Well, atheism is a lack of belief, not an active belief. Why does believing something need to have an upside? I believe that 7 people were killed in the Challenger disaster. There is no upside to that. Should I believe they didn’t die and are still alive today because there is upside to that?
                      You’re last question is called Pascal’s wager and it is quite silly if you read up on it. Some problems with it include there are thousands of other gods you’re not worshiping, most of which will punish you for worshiping the wrong god, therefore you’re basically just as likely to be wrong. There is no evidence that such catastrophic consequences even exist so believing something just because of imagined consequences is idiotic. I haven’t even gotten into the deeper philosophical questions and problems.
                      I’ve probably said too much though. I ask that if you have religious questions that you search out a different forum that would be better suited to answer your questions.

                    • “Well, atheism is a lack of belief, not an active belief. ”

                      Nah! Atheism is as much an active faith choice as is belief in God.

                      “I’ve probably said too much though. I ask that if you have religious questions that you search out a different forum that would be better suited to answer your questions.”

                      Odd that you would comment so thoroughly, then ask that Scott refrain from commenting.

                    • “Nah! Atheism is as much an active faith choice as is belief in God.”
                      Are you serious? I can’t tell. In case you are and for the benefit of someone who might read your comment, I’ll say that you couldn’t be any more wrong. To explain how you are wrong, let’s step away from religion and God as I have no intention of offending you or anyone else’s beliefs. Let’s look at something else, and I do this to help you and anyone else understand atheism. I assume you don’t believe in Santa Claus, right, so think about how you feel about Santa Claus. Have you made an active faith choice that Santa Claus doesn’t exist? Or do you simply lack belief that Santa Claus exists. I assume you’re like me and don’t need to actively believe that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. I spend zero percent of my time, energy or thoughts concerned about whether Santa Claus actually exists or not, therefore I lack belief that Santa Claus exists.
                      Often times people become offended because they think I’m comparing God to Santa Claus. I’m not. I’m merely giving you a point of reference to help you understand atheism because the same way you feel about the existence of Santa Claus is the same way an atheist feels about the existence of God. It is only a comparison of how a person feels about the existence of something.
                      “Odd that you would comment so thoroughly, then ask that Scott refrain from commenting.”
                      Well, I wouldn’t say I was thorough, I was responding to a few of his questions fairly briefly to give an idea of the rabbit hole he would be traveling down. I didn’t ask that he refrain from commenting. I asked that he search for a different forum which is tailored to discussing these topics. He is free to respond and I’ll be more than happy to discuss, but these are topics that require a lot of thought and understanding which is difficult to achieve on a baseball blog comments section.

                    • Yes 7, I am serious that atheism is an active faith choice. I think it is an easily defended statement. We talk often on this site about being cautious with small sample sizes when evaluating how a player may perform in the future. Yet an atheist confidently asserts that there is no God, despite the fact that the extent of his/her knowledge is extremely limited compared to all there is to know in the universe. To state with believable certainty (without faith) that there is no God an atheist would first have learn the full extent of all human knowledge, then explore all that humans have yet to discover while thoroughly searching all the eleven dimensions posited by M theory and truthfully discover no evidence of God. No one will ever be able to do that. Instead an atheist, full of faith, says “based on my small sample size of knowledge I confidently project that there is no God to be found in that expansive area of knowledge that I don’t yet know.” Not sound reasoning in my opinion.

                      Regarding comparing Santa Claus and God, I am not insulted. God may or may not be, you can ask Him when you meet Him. But yes, I made an active choice not believe in Santa. I can still remember how PO’d I was at my Mom when at age about 4 I reasoned out that Santa didn’t exist, and I told her so. That’s why we never told our kids to believe in the Santa myth, we just read the story for fun.

                      Most theists that I know believe in God because they have encountered Him, and have no need to project into the unknown.

                    • Well, we seem to have a disagreement on the definition of atheism. Your first paragraph seems to be aimed at what I would call a gnostic atheist. A gnostic atheist claims there is no god in which case I agree with you. One cannot prove a negative without being omniscient. The word atheism by itself is not a definition of knowing or not knowing, it is simply not theism. Theists believe in a god or gods. Some theists claim to know a god exists (gnostic theist), others just believe one exists out of faith (agnostic theist). Most atheists fall under the “don’t know if a god exists or not” but just don’t believe one does, which is an agnostic atheist. The word agnostic means don’t know while the word gnostic means knows.
                      I think it is important that you understand the definitions of the words, otherwise you’re going to be labeling someone something they are not. You wouldn’t like it if I defined what you are as something you are not.
                      I really doubt you needed to actively choose not to believe in Santa, especially considering you reasoned it out. If your reasoning something out you don’t need to choose as Occam’s razor would naturally take hold. Even still, you missed the point as you no longer have to actively believe Santa doesn’t exists do you? Do you say a few words before you eat dinner about how Santa doesn’t exist every day, or maybe before you go to sleep every night you kneel at the side of your bed and think about Santa not existing?

                    • Santa is an idea. God is a being. They are fundamentally different (though Plato might disagree with that thought).

                      I actually do, and did, understand the definitions of the words. From Websters: “atheism – the belief that there is no God”, “agnostic – one who believes it is impossible to know if God exists”. An agnostic atheist seems like an oxymoron to me. Sorry, you can’t be both, you have to choose. No having your cake and eating it too. You can however be an agnostic and choose to live practically as an atheist would, ignoring God completely. That’s actually what most people do day to day.

                      It seems that we have radically different ideas about the harmony of reason and faith as well. In fact we probably wouldn’t agree about much of anything of the deeper issues of life other than it’s great to be a Pirates’ fan!

                      None the less, I’ve enjoyed our conversation, thank you for it, and will now have to return to work. As the topics we have been talking about are really “off topic” from Prates’ baseball why don’t we move back to baseball related topics? If we ever meet personally I’ll be happy to discuss more existential topics in depth, after buying you a beer!

                    • The thing about the definitions is, I’m trying to help you understand what atheism actually is. You basically saying “nuh uh, atheism is something else” is irrelevant as you don’t get to define what atheism is if you’re not an atheist. I assume you’re a Christian. Would it make sense for me to say Christians believe Muhammad is the father of Jesus? No, absolutely it wouldn’t.
                      I completely understand that you believe Santa and God are fundamentally different. For a theist, this is absolutely correct. What I’m trying to explain to you is that for an atheist, Santa and God are fundamentally the same. I know, this is a difficult concept for theists to understand and they often assume the atheist has an equal amount of faith. Really it comes down to evidence. For a theist, they believe they have evidence that there is a god or gods. For an atheist, they have no evidence in order to believe that there is a god or gods. It’s why I used Santa as an example, because we both can agree that neither of us has evidence that Santa lives in the north pole, flies around in a sleigh giving presents out to all the children of the world on X-mas via chimney with a magic bag.
                      Webster’s definitions are pretty much inaccurate. I don’t have to choose between two definitions that are wrong. How about you tell me what word you think describes “lack of belief”. “Lack of belief” is the only description that actually matters when describing atheism. Anything else is just an attempt to describe other peoples state of belief/non-belief in a way that suits you.
                      Regarding faith, you’re probably right as I don’t view it in a positive light.
                      I think we often do agree on subjects relating to the Pirates and baseball and yes this has been a pleasant discussion and I’m glad it has remained civil. Too often discussions about either religion or politics can easily become uncivil.

                    • You can choose your presuppositions sze.. but making a presupposition doesn’t create a fact. Earth doesn’t mimic the universe as whole, which by and large is empty, void and cold. What it expresses is up to the eye of the beholder. Was it a Simon and Garfunkle song that said something like “man hears want he wants to hear and disregards the rest..” That applies here. One person looks at the intricacies of the universe and is overwhelmed by the evidence for a Designer. Another person looks at the same evidence and is unimpressed.

                    • I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said for the most part in your reply to szielinski as I don’t really agree with szielinski regarding “Earth mimics the universe” and use of the terms improbable and unintended since I have no clue what he meant by the mimicking and there is no way for us to know the probabilities or if intentions even apply.
                      I do think you’re last sentence is misguided though as not being impressed is not what it is about. The other person can look at the intricacies of the universe and would be equally overwhelmed and impressed. The difference between the two people is what each thinks constitutes evidence for a designer. Just because one thinks the same evidence does not imply a designer does not mean they are unimpressed.

                    • Lol, okay sure, uh huh, I fail to recognize eh. I’ll tell you what I do recognize, that we live on a planet that happens to exist in a shooting gallery of comets, asteroids and exploding stars, thousands of which could end life on Earth. The tilt of planet Earth is such that temperatures vary greatly over the course of a year between hemispheres resulting in drastic whether changes, dangerous weather patterns (like tornados, hurricanes, typhoons and blizzards) that harm life, cause droughts and famine. Plate tectonics which cause earthquakes, tsunami’s and volcano’s and it should be noted that some volcano’s have the potential to end life on Earth as well. All life on Earth is in a constant state of competition just to survive, not to mention virus’s and diseases are a danger to all life.
                      I also recognize that the human brain is conditioned over hundreds of thousands of generations to recognize patterns and it is this conditioning that leads you to believe that the Earth was designed, because you see other things that are designed (like the device you use) and associate the two. The thing is, the more you learn about the nature of the world you live in, the more you realize things aren’t as simple as you think and human intuition is fairly useless.

                    • Scott Kliesen
                      March 12, 2015 7:25 am

                      Finally, something we can agree on, the world and universe as we understand it has a degree of brokenness. I doubt we would agree on why it’s this way. In any case, for every example you site of why it isn’t fine tuned, hundreds of examples could be shared of why it is.

                      Basically, it boils down to are you a glass half full or glass half empty person? I choose hope over dread.

                    • You seem to be assuming I’m choosing dread, which would be false. I am an optimist for the most part and a realist in some part. Accepting the science behind climate change isn’t about giving into fear, quite the opposite actually as it is about understanding nature and acknowledging what the facts are no matter if they are appealing or not. From my perspective, it is you Scott who is choosing dread and giving into fear.

                    • Oh yeah, it only takes one example of why it isn’t fine tuned to demonstrate that it is not fine tuned. All your other examples of why it is fine tuned become meaningless. If it were in fact fine tuned, there would be no examples of why it isn’t fine tuned. The Earth is the way it is, that’s it. Just because you like certain aspects about it doesn’t mean it’s fine tuned. Don’t get me wrong, Earth is a great place, I’m having a blast, but I don’t need to make assumptions that it was fine tuned specifically for me or anyone else in order to feel special.

                    • Scott Kliesen
                      March 13, 2015 6:38 pm

                      Seven Patch, I must say you are way out of my league. I have no business debating you on any of the subjects brought up in this discussion. Furthermore, I have great admiration for the civility you bring to the table. It’s very easy for these type of conversations to become ugly. I appreciate you were respectful, even though you had to realize I was a neophyte compared to you.

                      I will make two final points before deferring to you to close out this matter, if you so choose.

                      First, when I claim the universe is fine tuned, I mean it has features that allow for vastly different components of the universe to work together so the components involved will survive, and for some of these components to replicate themselves by interacting with each other in an instinctive manner. Quite frankly, from a mathematical standpoint, the odds of this happening by chance is beyond unlikely.

                      And secondly, the mathematical odds of the universe coming into existence by chance is so far fetched, I can’t believe anybody would believe it could happen. If Stephen Hawking is correct about the speed of which the universe came into existence, and the minute amount of variance allowed for it not to collapse on itself, it is also well beyond the realm of unlikely. I would put it at about as unlikely as your neighbor entering her pet turtle into the Kentucky Derby this year and winning.

                      And for these reasons, and many more, I will never be swayed to believe there wasn’t an architect involved in the design of our universe.

                      And finally something I think we can agree on, let’s go Bucs!

                    • I appreciate the kind words, I hope at least I was able to convey some thoughts clearly and understandably as that was my only intent.
                      I agree that the universe is quite an amazing place, whether you’re talking about chemistry, biology or physics. I’ve studied all these subjects quite a lot in my life as they all interest me greatly, especially theoretical physics. I read more non-fiction and science books/research papers than I read fiction (which is rare, the rate is probably 100 non-fiction to 1 fiction book). This is probably why I love baseball, numbers and statistics are also a passion of mine.
                      Regarding odds, I’d say the problem with determine the odds is you really need to know all the information and variables in order to calculate realistic odds. Is it mind blowingly amazing the way things currently are in the universe? Sure, absolutely. The thing about the universe the way it is, it might be that it was inevitable or expected to be the way it is just due to the nature of what it is. If you start getting into quantum physics, things start getting really weird (and that is a gross understatement) and even further still is M-theory. I don’t think we can say for sure with any reasonable certainty how likely or unlikely it is that the universe would be the way it is. What we do know is that it is here and it is amazing and strange at the same time while we are here, self aware and able to semi-comprehend how amazingly strange it all is.
                      As far as chance goes, I’m not sure that such a word applies. With how weird quantum physics is, the universe may not really have come into existence in the way that you think it did. What I mean by that is that there may not be any such thing as non-existence or nothing. It’s not like there was nothing and then poof everything came into existence. Science doesn’t actually say that (that is not what the big bang theory really is). There is still so much we don’t know that it is impossible to put odds or chances on things happening or existing the way they do. You could be right and it could be such a miniscule unlikely chance or it could be 1 to 1 odds that things had to be the way that they are. Also, if things were different, then we wouldn’t be here to talk about odds and chances anyway but who knows what other outcomes might have resulted in different self aware life forms who would have been discussing odds and chances.
                      I think the problem is, the more we learn about the universe, the more we realize how much more we don’t know. Go back 7 or 8 thousand years ago and we didn’t even realize that the Earth was spherical. Go back a thousand years and there was debate over whether the Earth was the center of the solar system. We kept progressing in our knowledge and the world/universe kept getting bigger and bigger with each leap in understanding that we took.

                    • Scott Kliesen
                      March 13, 2015 9:57 pm

                      From now on, I pledge to not engage in any debate with you any more complex than the pro’s and con’s of the DH.

                      Good game Sir!

                    • The argument that the life on Earth is full of hazards is not an argument against fine tuning.

                    • Sure it is, otherwise you’d be engaging in special pleading. Imagine if I said ” The argument that life on Earth exists because Earth is in the goldilocks zone is not an argument for fine tuning”. I expect though that you think hazards is not an argument because they are necessary or something along those lines, to which I respond bollocks. No one can actually know that these hazards are necessary or not. All that we know is that they are indeed here. Hazards is not something I associate with fine tuned. Although, I suppose we could be talking about how a crazed maniacal inventor fine tunes something.

                    • Not familiar with the terms “special pleading”, and didn’t understand what you were trying to communicate in your second sentence. But as to why I think that the presence of hazards is not an argument against fine tuning I say that the world is a dangerous place because that is the way it’s Creator has willed it to be. Why would that be so? Perhaps one reason would be that it presents the opportunity for it’s occupants to learn that there are always consequences to actions. The “perfectly fine tuned” world that you posit wouldn’t promote that. What I hear you saying is that because the world isn’t as “perfect” as you can imagine it might be, that that constitutes proof that a perfect Creator could not have created it. I remember reading Hitchens making the same argument. But you might alternatively conclude that the Creator is more”dangerous” than you might hope, and therefore is greatly to be feared. It’s not without reason that the warning has been given that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But a God who is to be feared as well as loved and adored is never a popular concept. It won’t be a surprise if it isn’t acceptable to you.

                    • Special pleading is where a person asks for special rules or allowances in order for their argument to be valid.
                      The second sentence was an illustration of special pleading in reverse in which I ask for a special rule to argue that fine tuning is invalid.
                      Your reasons why you think hazards is not an argument against fine tuning did end up falling in the “necessary” category as I expected. You’re also making assumptions. First you assume the hazards present are the only way to achieve an opportunity to learn. Second, you assume a perfectly fine tuned world couldn’t achieve the same thing as what you call fine tuned.
                      I generally agree with the rest of your reply except I’m not sure exactly what you mean by if it isn’t acceptable to me. If indeed there is a creator god, it would almost certainly be some kind of trickster, malevolent or incompetent god. When we talk about hazards, I think we’re getting into the problem of evil discussion really. I might agree that some evil might be necessary, but there are plenty of examples that are blatantly unnecessary and cruel.

                  • Scott Kliesen
                    March 11, 2015 6:56 pm

                    What humans need to comprehend is this: By releasing tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, they will have condemned the many species that cannot survive but in the ecological conditions that define the Halocene.

                    In the late 1960’s, environmentalists (doom and gloomers) like Paul Ehrlich predicted mass starvation, depletion of resources and unlivable pollution by 2000. The fact is today the population has doubled, we use exponentially more energy than 45 years ago, yet the average person is better fed, we have more energy resources than known at that time and air pollution has declined.

                    Now what about Global Warming?

                    The release of carbon dioxide does produce a greenhouse effect, but the effect is not linear. Every time a molecule of carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere it has a decelerating and logarithmic effect. Which is to say the new molecule is less potent than the proceeding one. The result being since 1850 carbon-dioxide levels have increased in the atmosphere by .03 – .04%, temperatures have risen less than 1-degree Celsius. And in the last 15 years, a period of record emissions, there has been little to no warming. Hence the need to change the narrative from global warming to climate change.

                    What alarmists like Al Gore and Paul Ehrlich fail to recognize is our ability to adapt through new technology.

                    • Ehrlich’s concerns about overpopulation is in no way comparable to climate science. Also, overpopulation is still a concern even if many of Ehrlich’s “predictions” or scenario’s were inaccurate.
                      I see you are referencing Alex Epstein, a supporter of the oil and gas industry. Yeah, no conflict of interest there. By the way, Epstein has a bachelor arts degree in philosophy. So, let me get this straight, you buy what a non professional, non scientist says about science, but you don’t buy what professionals and scientists say? FYI, the idea that CO2 having a logarithmic effect means we don’t have to worry about adding more CO2 is false, the end bands of CO2 still absorb infrared radiation just fine so adding more CO2 is still going to cause warming (greenhouse effect).
                      Source regarding little to no warming in the last 15 years. All scientific data I can find shows that the Earth is continuing to get warmer and is matching the climate models. Your narrative about the narrative is misinformed. Global warming is a more direct description of what is happening, the term hasn’t gone away or been replaced. Climate Change is a more big picture description. More likely people stopped using Global Warming as often because idiots say “duh look at how cold this winter is, those global warming guys are stupid”, not realizing that local whether patterns are entirely different than the global climate.

                    • A lag exists. This has been known. Its existence does not undermine claims that global warming is a present day phenomena.

                    • The mechanism of absorption and re-radiation of IR by CO2 is a present day phenomena. Whether that is a major or minor factor in determining the course of the climate is an unproven. It’s probably very small compared to fluctuations in the sun’s radiative intensity.

            • No… Al Gore’s message was that we are all doomed unless we surrender more freedom and money to the federal government. You can be sensitive to the environment while also completely rejecting Al Gore’s message.

        • I heard an old favorite of mine from the ’80’s the other day titled ” Lunatic Fringe ( I know you are out there ) “

          • Scott Kliesen
            March 11, 2015 11:10 am

            I like that song Leo. Is it your walk up music in your softball beer league?

            • You are a real jag off, aren’t you ? You ought to attempt thinking before typing …..if that is possible.

              • Scott Kliesen
                March 11, 2015 5:40 pm

                Maybe you should take a deep breath while you can and smell what you’re shoveling, Leo.


                Jag Off

      • And there you go again, Leo.

      • Pretty sure all he was trying to illustrate is that those who think or try to predict the future are not always correct. As many variable factors play a role in outcomes based on predictions. The “climate reference” is not stupid, because clearly his statement is factual, he showed how a prediction was made that many people believed in and has turned out to be wrong. As these predictions are made I’m guessing a majority of them will turn out to be wrong as well.

        • His reference is stupid. First of all, Al Gore is not a climate scientist (or even a scientist), he was only reporting one worst case scenario estimate based on a study done in 2006/2007. Artic sea-ice is indeed shrinking, so to use such a reference to illustrate that predictions could wrong is arbitrary at best and stupid at worst. Comparing or relating scientific estimates made based on years of research and an abundance of real data to unscientific predictions about a game is the very definition of a false analogy which is stupid.

          • Case and point of his argument was a “prediction was made and turned out to be false”, that is factual. He was simply using this analogy to show predictions generally do not come true. Was it the best analogy? No, but based on simply looking at prediction and fact of his statement he was correct in pointing out factually a “prediction was made turned out to be false”. Again this is a baseball blog, no need for liberal rants or propaganda or man made global warming talk.

            • The thing you are missing is that there are different types of predictions and different quality levels of predictions. One prediction being wrong is not the same as another being wrong and by no means can it be said that “predictions generally do not come true”. In science, nature and reality, predictions coming true is necessarily true. You are ignoring that and stretching the imagination to a breaking point to justify defending his false analogy. He was comparing apples and oranges and did so like a troll would do it.