First Pitch: Should the Pirates Rebuild or Try to Win Now?

Tomorrow is the start of the General Manager meetings, which run through Thursday. This isn’t usually a news-filled week, despite the meetings. That tends to be an event where teams start to lay the groundwork for their offseason plans.

The Pirates don’t have a long-term GM in place, and it’s assumed that interim GM Kevan Graves will be representing the team this week at the meetings. I’m guessing that we won’t hear any rumors about the Pirates’ offseason plans this week, and that won’t change until they have a GM in place.

That doesn’t mean we can’t talk about what the Pirates should do. I’ve been focusing on the farm system a lot in the last few weeks, working on the Baseball America top 30, and preparing the early stages of our top 50 writeups.

This week I’ll be focusing on arguments for whether the Pirates should rebuild, or try to win in the next few years. I think you could make an argument either way, but there’s one argument that I feel is the better choice.

Both arguments involve a departure from the way Pirates have done things in the past, and I’ll get into that as well. And it will be an improvement just to pick a single path, rather than trying to do both and ending up around .500 at best.

Look for those articles the next two mornings, pending any news. For now, weigh in with what you think the Pirates should do going forward, and why.





By John Dreker

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a major trade made during the end of the 19th century.

On this date in 1897 the Pittsburgh Pirates made a seven-player trade, sending star outfielder Mike Smith and 30-game-winner Pink Hawley, along with cash, to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for five players. The Pirates acquired Bill Gray, Jack McCarthy, Billy Rhines, Pop Schriver and Ace Stewart. Only Schriver was still around in 1900 and he was gone before the following season. Hawley went 27-11 the year after the deal and Smith batted .342, but both quickly fell off and the short-term one-sided trade ended up being fairly even when all was said and done.

Matt Pagnozzi, catcher for the 2011 Pirates. The Pirates had a plethora of catching injuries in 2011 and Pagnozzi was one of the players who got a chance during that time. In five games, he started twice and went 2-for-8 at the plate. He played parts of five seasons in the majors, seeing action with five different teams and getting in 43 games total.

Junior Noboa, infielder for the 1994 Pirates. He lasted just two games with the 1994 Pirates, going 0-for-2 and playing one inning at shortstop. That ended his eight-year big league career, and his final game came just a week before the strike that lasted into the start of the 1995 season.

Eddie Eayrs, pitcher for the 1913 Pirates. He debuted in the majors with two mid-season relief appearances for the Pirates, then didn’t play another big league game until the 1920 season. When he returned to the majors, he was an outfielder, though he got occasional turns on the mound, with 31 innings over two seasons.

Billy Earle, catcher for the 1892-93 Pirates. He was the backup to Connie Mack. Earle played 32 games with the Pirates and batted .287 with two homers. He split 35 games between two teams in 1894, playing part-time despite a .348 average. Earle made his pro debut at 18 in 1886 and played his final game 22 years later.

Fred Roat, third baseman for the 1890 Alleghenys, born on the same day as Billy Earle in 1867. He hit .223 as a rookie in 1890, playing in 57 games. His only other big league time was eight late-season games for the 1892 Chicago Colts. He played 11 seasons of minor league ball.