Sunday, January 13, 2008

Through the looking glass.

Words of wisdom from our #3 starter in today's P-G:
"We've got the pieces," starter Paul Maholm said. "But, like they've said, it's a matter of having some accountability. We need to step up. We need to win. No excuses."

That's right! We're going to demand accountability! Clear the decks! No job is safe! We aren't going to take this failure lying down!

Oh, wait.
The Pirates' roster, despite precious few changes this offseason, is pretty much set for 2008.

"From a substantial additions standpoint, yeah, I think we are," general manager Neal Huntington said during a break at the team's minicamp.
If nothing more happens, that will mean the Pirates are keeping together essentially the same group that went 68-94 last season, made no notable acquisitions beyond the signing of utility infielder Chris Gomez and five waiver claims, lost relievers Shawn Chacon and Salomon Torres without finding comparable replacements and added no significant talent to the minor-league system.

When did the White Queen start running our franchise? Accountability yesterday, and accountability tomorrow, but never accountability today.

(Just one point of comparison: The Royals hired Dayton Moore as their new GM on March 31, 2006. Know how many guys who were on KC's 40-man roster when he took over are still there? By my count, twelve. That's 70% turnover in a year and a half.)


Also submitted for your consideration: this quote from Adam LaRoche:
"There's no doubt in my mind we all can get better, including myself," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "And I think we will. I like the direction this team is headed in, just like I did last year."

Adam was obviously trying to say something nice, but that sentiment is actually pretty dispiriting once you unpack it. Since the team was pretty uniformly lousy last year, and we're still heading in the same direction with the same group of people, where exactly does he think we're going to end up this time? Does he like losing, or does he just think that we're due?


RichieHebner said...

On top of the dearth of talent, we are cursed to suffer quite possibly the dumbest collection of players in the game. I got a headache reading that claptrap.

WTM said...

Look at it this way--even Allard Baird accidentally had a winning season. Sooner or later, a team is going to have a season where a bunch of guys have career years or the team has a fluky record in one-run games or whatever. DL was just so monumentally incompetent that he defeated the laws of chance. NH may figure all he has to do is not affirmatively ruin the team's chances and eventually it has to have a good year . . . and then it can sink back into decrepitude.

WilliamJPellas said...

"NH may figure all he has to do is not affirmatively ruin the team's chances and eventually it has to have a good year . . . and then it can sink back into decrepitude."

I'll say this: it's starting to get difficult to draw any other conclusion based on what we've seen to this point. To be fair, it IS still very, very early in the Coonelly-Huntington regime. Also, we might reasonably expect at least moderate improvement from guys like Snell, Gorzellany, Maholm, etc., as long as they stay healthy.

But generally speaking, as all of us have said elsewhere, a thorough if not complete overhaul of the entire organization is needed, top to bottom, if a legitimate foundation for consistent competitiveness is ever going to be laid here in Pittsburgh. At minimum, that means 1) dealing our current crop of desireable veterans for a truckload of good prospects, and 2) reinvestment in, and revamping of, our entire system of amateur drafting and player procurement, with a particular emphasis on international talent. (The Dominican Academy looks like a good first step in that direction. We'll see.)

Again, it's early. But if we go all the way through 2008 without seeing substantial progress in the two areas listed above, it could literally be decades before this team recovers.

WTM said...

The best defense of NH right now is that he figures there's little he can do until he has a chance to address the farm system, meaning he needs a few drafts, a chance to make an impact in international scouting, etc. If he's focused on the farm system, you wouldn't expect him to fritter away resources on middle relievers the way DL would have done. The only thing he could have done is trade vets for prospects, and his view seems to be that he hasn't been offered the sort of prospects he wants. Without knowing what he's asking for--Is he undermining his chances by insisting on major league ready guys the way DL did?--it's hard to judge. But I have trouble understanding why he can't do better when the Nats are able to pick up Lastings Milledge for a 4th outfielder and a declining, no-hit catcher.

RichieHebner said...

The acid tests will be what they does with Bay, Nady and some others when they are perfoming next Spring, followed by the draft. Personally, I think they know they need to do a tear down and rebuild, but that Nutting won't let them. If that is the case, then these guys have been set up to fail. All that said, I am with Wilbur. How can Bowden extract Lastings Milledge from the Mets for Church and Schneider? I would happily have given them one of our outfielders and Paulino, or maybe two of our outfielders and Paulino.