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Wakeup Call: More on Pirates, SEALS, collapse, etc.

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Friday column is about the Pirates still being losers even after some winning, and it’s led by some stuff I found out about the team bringing in former Navy SEALS to drill prospects in Bradenton this weekend.

As promised in the print edition, here’s more on that topic from my interview with Kyle Stark yesterday …

On the event itself: “We have chosen to add extra days to the Florida Instructional League for some additional training and have some of our players coming in early. An organization composed of former Navy SEALS will be in to do some stuff with our guys and share their experiences. This same group shared some lessons with guys in spring training and worked with our extended spring guys this year — and has worked extensively with many different successful, high-profile collegiate, Olympic and professional teams.

On the objective: The goals for this training include:

1. To give our guys a unique training experience to reinforce various lessons we stress all the time pertaining to leadership, team building and mental toughness (confident and calm under pressure).

2. To allow our guys to be around elite performers in another field.

3. To gain some perspective on another way of life with different demands.

4. To set the tone for our camp by getting the guys to share a unique experience.

On concerns about player injury in such a setting: We always have concerns about player health as every decision we make includes a cost-benefit analysis. The reality is that guys get hurt in all kinds of ways all the time. We did not have anyone get hurt this spring. This group works closely with our athletic training and strength staffs to ensure safety, and we believe in the benefits from the experience.

To clarify, we’ve done some non-traditional training in the past and have had guys experience some normal bumps, nicks and soreness, but no one has ever had a season negatively impacted.

>> I say my piece on this topic in the column. And to give you the fullest possible picture of the Pirates’ perspective, I quote Stark in the column and print for you everything else he said above.

Also in that spirit, I can share with you that I heard from a number of people who are just furious over this. Most were inside the organization, as you’d expect, but I even heard from the outside. One American League scout called the Pirates “a laughingstock” for doing this and panned their minor league fundamentals as “horrible.”

I’ve told you guys before, you have to go digging for some stories. Others just come to you. This one was very much in the latter category.

>> Dick LeBeau sure made it sound yesterday as if James Harrison and Troy Polamalu won’t play vs. the Jets. That immensely reduces an already negligible chance at being aggressive with Mark Sanchez, who doesn’t react well to that sort of thing.

And that, in turn, makes it incumbent on LeBeau and the Steelers to blitz LaMarr Woodley more than the mere 10 times they did Sunday in Denver. So what if they know it’s coming? Best chance for a rush is Ziggy Hood setting picks for LaMarr, all-out, all the time.

>> Here’s the chat transcript from yesterday.

157 Comments

  1. Seriously, to spend one minute on anything but BASEBALL is a joke. This organization does not get it and that starts from the principal owner (Bob Nutting) and on down. On July 31, this organization spoke its mind, that’s why we haven’t heard from Nutting, Coonelly, and Huntington… they’re too embarrassed to admit that tomorrow is more valuable to their “brand” than today.

    They have men, I’m tired of calling them kids, unable to bunt, unable to throw out a runner stealing second base, unable to steal a base themselves, unable to throw to the right bag, unable to catch the ball, unable to move a runner from second to third like Freddy Sanchez did time after time, unable to hit a sacrifice fly with a runner on third and less than two out, unable to throw strikes early, unable to go seven innings in a start, unable to run out a groundball out, unable to go back and track a fly ball, unable to hit the cutoff man, ….do I need to go on?

    So yes, Bob Nutting accept tomorrow, accept your lot as a laughingstock, as a losing organization, as a blight to the rich 100-plus year tradition of Pirates baseball… accept that when Milwaukee Brewers see the Pirates on the schedule, they laugh.

    The Brewers.

    What an absolute joke.

    …………………….
    Dejan, hands down, that was your best column ever… from lede to FINISH, that was a hitter’s column.

  2. How disgusted are you, when you realize this….

    Pirates were 59-44, from August 1 until September 12, Pirates are 13-26 (39 games) for a 72-70 record.

    If the Pirates went 19-20 over those 39 games… they would be 78-64.

    If the Pirates were 78-64 by playing 1 game under .500 in the last 39, they would have a 4 game lead in the loss column over the Cardinals.

    JUST by playing 1 game under .500 over the last 39 games…. instead they are 2.5 games behind them.

    Sickening………………

  3. Isn’t it amazing how the NHL owners want the players to go from 57% to 49% because they have about ten teams who could use the financial support to make the salary cap floor…oh you thought that was the reason for the soon to be lockout.

    No, this isn’t about Flyers owner Ed Snider or Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs finally feeling sorry for their peers with the Predators, Panthers, Coyotes, Oilers, Flames, Jets, and Hurricanes.

    This lockout is about the owners seeing how the NFL and NBA got deals for much less than 57% and the large revenue owners think their pie needs to be larger as a result of their sport having grown revenues from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion since the ‘04-05 lockout.

    The players didn’t design the current CBA, the owners did.

    The players gave their pound of flesh with a 24% salary rollback after the lockout.

    Everyone knows the next CBA is going to be 50-50, it is a matter of how they get there and how fast.

    The next CBA should be 6 years.

    Years 1-3: Players get a set $1.78 billion per season unless revenues do not grow 7% year over year. This means, players would get $5.34 billion (51%) over 3 years, while at the current revenue pace, owners would get $5.27 billion (49%).

    Years 4-6: Players and Owners share 50% of revenues. Revenues would be $4.04, $4.33, and $4.63 billion. I don’t know the exact formula in % of total revenues is HRR but let’s just say 90% of total revenues is HRR. HRR would be $3.64, $3.89, and $4.16 billion at 50% split is 1.82, 1.95, and 2.08 billion. Take the player’s piece in comparison to total revenues, that’s 45%. I suspect that’s going to be the biggest issue for Donald Fehr and players, they are not agreeing to a 50%, they getting 45% of total revenues.

    Positives: No rollback on player salaries, forces owners to grow the revenues by marketing the sport better, and NHLPA can still say their negotiators did better than NFL/NBA players association.

  4. The one “move” during the season that I actually liked was bringing Maz and Virdon into the dugout and suiting them up for that one game earlier this summer. Don’t know if any players took advantage of having those championship players around during an actual game, not of the grapefruit variety. But that, not BUDS training for players in February, is the type of out of the nox thinking that we need. Of course, the MLB goons put a stop to former winners appearing in the dugout. But hey.

  5. Great work on the column, Dejan. Without a doubt, some of your best work.

    It is hard to imagine a season filled with so much promise has turned into another collapse. I look at what is happening in Baltimore and think to myself that the same excitement should be taking place on the North Shore.

  6. Everything here and in the column needed to be said. I have watched the Pirates collapse in near stone-silence (except on Twitter) over the last 3-4 weeks in utter frustration. There was a Deadspin article out in which a subject in the story was quoted as saying “I’m desensitized to the specifics of each night’s failure.” That’s me. I’m openly avoiding many of the games, waiting for signs of a winning streak. They are giving me NO signs that I should be rejoining them.

    Some call that bandwagon jumping. Sorry, but this is much too close to me for it to be that. This is more like watching someone steal your girlfriend from you, each and every day in more creative fashion. Like watching the team play baseball in the middle of the interstate, knowing full well that something will inevitably go SPLAT! It’s awful to the core.

    I once read a comment from a reader somewhere, maybe here or maybe elsewhere, that Neal Huntington reminds him of other Amhurst grads – a smug know-it-all who dangles “the plan” in the face of the fans with a you-arent-smart-enough-to-understand aura. It’s been awhile but it’s always stuck with me. The entire organization reflects this at this point. They earned the benefit of the doubt when the team was playing well. But now? In the face of a second, SIGNIFICANT collapse, there are no outward signs of anything but “steady as she goes” from the club. You would expect to see leaks springing everywhere, like we are seeing in Boston right now, with people inside the organization calling out everyone from the GM to the grounds crew. Or the GM himself venting through a back channel. Or even an admission that things are going poorly and a change needs to be made, through personnel, philosophy, planning, or all three. Instead? Nothing.

    This front office is officially out of rope with me. I in no way have it in me to bash the team day after day and be a constant, shrilly negative-nancy type like we see from others, but I no longer will be rationalizing for this front office group from here on. Fire them all. I will continue to support the players who deserve my support and root for anyone wearing the Pirates’ game uniform. Keep Hurdle as he has done many good things with this group in two years, things no manager has done before. But clean house on Huntington, Coonelly, Stark, the development people, the minor league coaches, the bench coaches, the drill instructors, even the peanut vendor in Bradenton if you have to. There is good, playable talent here in Pittsburgh and in the minors, but this regime is so clearly incapable, and maybe even unmotivated, of executing it’s plan to field a winning baseball club that it is the most deflating thing I have seen in Pittsburgh sports since the Penguins blew it all up in 2002-2003.

    They could sweep the Cubs this weekend and it would do absolutely nothing to change my mind on this. I don’t demand that this club to go to the World Series. I don’t expect it either, nor do I even expect a playoff spot. But to crawl to the finish line like dying, gasping, sickly, choking DOGS, while doing nothing amid an EXTREMELY favorable September schedule that I personally have pointed to all along as the stretch that would reveal this team’s true colors? Unacceptable. And I won’t be watching.

    Funny, it wasn’t but weeks ago where I was fantasizing about buying some scalped tickets outside PNC in late September to see the Pirates charge onward to October in front of a packed-to-the-brim house supercharged with electricity unseen at the place since it’s construction. I can look back now and only laugh, at the gross mismanagement, at myself, and at the absurdity of it all.

    Thanks for the column, DK. Nice job.

  7. @Dogfish9 – I thought of the same thing tonight, looking over the standings, with regards to Baltimore’s place in the playoff chase. I mean, the goal was 82 before it could ever be 92 and now, they’ll be lucky to even hit 82.

  8. The same handful of Pirates cheerleaders are already out in force on Twitter trying to be protect “The Plan” and a baseball team that makes them and their internet websites feel legitimate.

    As someone who used to run his own Penguins website, these folks really need to find reality and as Dejan says, “think for yourself”.

    For someone to post an article from 2006 about the Penguins having a similar training is laughable. To try to draw comparisons to the Penguins, a first class, first rate organization that had talent, had a plan, had already proven to be a hard-working fundamentally sound franchise with the youth in the AHL and junior prospects with their young stars like Crosby.

    Accepting mediocrity is not something I understand and for anyone giving this baseball club a free pass right now while it is in the midst of a second “SIGNIFICANT” collapse doesn’t get it and subscribes to the simple philosophy, “tomorrow is more valuable (to my business) than today”.

  9. @Eric

    Don’t get me started on the basepaths garbage. The way this team has let baserunners run all over them with reckless abandon without implementing even the slightest change is downright INSULTING. Winners worry about things like that and address them. Remember Dave Roberts in 2004? Stuff makes all the difference when it comes time to win. The Pirates never even CARED about shoring that up in case they would need to call on it later. And you’re right, they can’t even steal a base themselves! For all we hear of McCutchen’s speed, when was the last time he stole a base where the throw wasn’t thoroughly atrocious? The rest of the guys can forget about it. Even Marte doesn’t run up here. What is the PROBLEM???

  10. @Dan – Organizational accountability… can’t have any when the man in charge below Nutting is off getting arrested for DUI and the team tried to hide it or later in the summer a minor league has-been arrested for the same thing and sucked up a spot on the 40-man roster.

    For all the pomp and circumstance blustered about the successful managing and coaching by Hurdle and his coaches, this team is horrendous at the major league level at the fundamentals of the game.

    Good managers don’t let this happen, two years in a row. Good GMs don’t let this happen two years in a row. Good owners don’t let this happen two years in a row.

    This series against Chicago is huge, they need to plug the hole in the ship, get to the shore, pillage the Cubs and set sail for the remainder of the season with cannons firing… if not, 82 is a distant memory.

  11. Sounds like an interesting team building excercise. Honestly, who cares? If the big club doesn’t crap the bed again, this wouldn’t even of had a mention I’m sure.

    DK: It absolutely would.

  12. Let me just say firstly I’m entirely open to any criticism about how the Pirates run their organization. With respect to fundamentals, I don’t particularly care that the Pirates are opening their instructionals with Navy SEALS training. What I care about is what does and/or doesn’t go on after that. What would be more useful to me in assessing and discussing the Pirates’ fundamentals in some context.

    First, how do their fundamentals compare to the other 29 teams?

    Second, if they’re substandard, how do their developmental practices differ?

  13. Interesting to see that some have “had enough”……Till next April when the same old same old takes place again.

    I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

    Call it reiteration….Call it kindergarten.

    Things will never change as long as the dreaded Nutting Regime is in power.

    It’s oh so predictable…..And oh so pitiful.

  14. Best management team in baseball? Give me a break. Maybe most arrogant management team in baseball. Refuse to learn from their mistakes. No disrespect to those players we got at the deadline but That’s the best you can do? Didn’t sign their first round draft choice. They knew who his agent was. They knew what the new guidelines were. Did they really think the agent was going to cave? The BMTIB simply out of their league.

  15. DK…
    Great column….the fans get it…you get it.
    The organization doesn’t .

  16. I don’t have a problem with the Navy SEALS training. I remember reading stories this summer about many of our Olympic athletes doing the same thing. Tiger Woods has done this too.

  17. JAL’s South Dakota Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Fall Instructional League Roster

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/2012-pittsburgh-pirates-fall-instructional-league-roster.html
    First Pitch: A Few Cases of Increased Velocity, and the More Important Skill

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-a-few-cases-of-increased-velocity-and-the-more-important-skill.html

    West Virginia Power 2012 Season Recap: Top Prospects

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/west-virginia-power-2012-season-recap-top-prospects.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    SB Nation article: Pirates Struggling With Clint Hurdle, But Is Firing Him The Answer?

    http://pittsburgh.sbnation.com/2012/9/13/3327936/clint-hurdle-pirates-fired

    6 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Will Turn It Around Against Chicago Cubs (Hides Crossed Fingers)

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/09/13/pittsburgh-pirates-will-turn-it-around-against-chicago-cubs-hides-crossed-fingers/

    7 Deadspin

    This Is Now The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Worst Season Ever

    http://deadspin.com/5942981/this-is-now-the-pittsburgh-pirates-worst-season-ever

    8 The Green Weenie

    The Post Deadline Bucs

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-post-deadline-bucs.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates can’t squeeze past Reds

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/09/pirates-cant-squeeze-past-reds/

    10 Yahoo Sports

    Does Any Team Want to Win the 2nd NL Wild Card?: A Fan’s View

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/does-team-want-win-2nd-nl-wild-card-182000873–mlb.html

  18. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Cubs Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120914_PIT@CHC/piratescubs-preview

    12 Philadelphia Daily News

    Phillies lose, 6-4, to Astros to snap seven-game winning streak

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/Phillies_lose_6-4_to_Astros_to_snap_seven-game_winning_streak.html

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pirates Report

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-playerwatchmtze89c7jw78k-20120912,0,1049664.story

    14 LA Times

    Dodgers continue to play the mild card

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/dodgers/la-sp-0914-dodgers-cardinals-20120914,0,148133.story

    15 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Bernie Bytes: Showdown of desperate contenders

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-bytes-showdown-of-desperate-contenders/article_e6594078-fdb2-11e1-977b-001a4bcf6878.html

    16 Chicago Sun Times

    Cubs’ homestand worth a long, hard look

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/15131325-573/cubs-homestand-worth-a-long-hard-look.html

    17 Sporting News

    Weekend Preview: NL wild card up for grabs, AL contenders face off

    http://aol.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2012-09-13/weekend-preview-nl-wild-card-al-east-al-central-al-wild-card-al-west

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    18 PBC Site

    Dude, what’s the ‘Z?’ Bucs hope it’s a playoff sign

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120912&content_id=38323628&vkey=news_pit&c_id=pit

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    What You Need to Know

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18338

    20 Fangraphs

    The Impact of Remaining Strength of Schedule

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-impact-of-remaining-strength-of-schedule/

  19. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Vs. Jets Injury Report: Darrelle Revis Still Not Cleared For Contact

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/9/13/3327218/steelers-vs-jets-injury-report-darrelle-revis-still-not-cleared-for

    Steelers Vs. Jets: Battle Among Jets Secondary, Steelers Receivers

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/9/13/3325754/steelers-jets-gifs-nfl-preview-week-2-analysis-secondary-receivers

    22 Steelers Depot

    - LeBeau Makes It Sound Like Harrison & Polamalu Will Both Miss Jets Game

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/09/lebeau-makes-it-sound-like-harrison-polamalu-will-both-miss-jets-game/

    23 Steelers Gab

    Harrison Misses Another Day of Practice; Clark Back with the Steelers

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/09/12/harrison-misses-another-day-of-practice-clark-back-with-the-steelers/

    24 Nice Pick Cower

    Nice Pick Cowher’s NFL Week #2 Picks

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/09/13/nice-pick-cowhers-nfl-week-2-picks/

    Pitt Blogs

    25 Pitt Blather

    Cultural Exchange: Talking Tech with THE KEY PLAY

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/09/13/cultural-exchange-talking-tech-with-the-key-play/

    26 Cardiac Hill

    Point: Why The Notre Dame Addition Is Good For The ACC

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/9/13/3324742/notre-dame-to-the-acc-joins-football-pittsburgh-panthers-pitt-basketball-leaves-buyout-recruiting

    Counterpoint: Why Notre Dame To The ACC Isn’t As Good As It Seems

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/9/13/3322738/notre-dame-to-acc-pittsburgh-panthers-pitt-recruiting-acc-football-basketball-expansion

    WVU Blogs

    27 Metro News

    Matthew Stoss: JMU Beat Writer

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=54961

    28 WV Illustrated

    West Virginia vs. James Madison Game Preview

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/19534229/west-virginia-vs-james-madison-game-preview

    Soccer(football)

    29 Sky Sports

    FA offers Hillsborough apology

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11669/8075467/FA-offers-Hillsborough-apology

    30 Daily Telegraph

    Hillsborough truth must now end arms race of offensive chants between Liverpool and Manchester United fans

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/liverpool/9541641/Hillsborough-truth-must-now-end-arms-race-of-offensive-chants-between-Liverpool-and-Manchester-United-fans.html

    31 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 13th September, 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-13th-september-2012

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    32 Pensburgh

    NHLNumbers Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/9/12/3320354/nhlnumbers-preview-pittsburgh-penguins

  20. South Dakota Morning, From Australia the Bee Gees make their 2nd appearance on with a song about a US state. From the album Life in a Tin Can, 1973

  21. I don’t have a problem with SEALS training.

    From my personal observations of Kyle Stark and his military bearing, I think he takes his stylings a bit too seriously. So I had an eye rolling moment when I first read this.

    But then I thought…for athletes? In an environment of teamwork? No problem with this.

    Ah. But what i DO have a problem with is that Stark’s charges, the young men that he and the minor league coaches are, um, charged with developing, seem almost to the man undeveloped when they arrive at the MLB level.

    THAT is what I have a problem with.

  22. When the organization hires a manager who from Day One espouses the value of small ball, then the organization needs to adjust its development plan to teach at least that. At least bunting, stealing, hitting behind runners and such.

    Bring on Pole Dance Training for all I care.

    And no. I’m not implying anything snide about the SEALS.

    I’m just saying. Do ANYthing you want that you think will help.

    As long as you also, FIRST, teach the top priority stuff.

    If you manage a failing sales team, you BETTER get them training in prospecting and closing. You wanna bring in an English professor to teach how to write a better business email? Fine. No problem. As long as you are also, FIRST, teaching them to be better prospectors and closers.

  23. Drew, you said what I am thinking. Navy SEALS training, fine. But where are the fundamentals?? Who is teaching them?

    Eric Bowser, you have commented with some pretty good stuff here. Good job. Thanks much for the NHL CBA information. You make it easy to understand.

    AW, you asked on yesterday’s disgraceful thread, “Jandy–so you think Phillips’ unprecedented actions afterward in not letting it go, including jawing at Cutch about it, was because he got hit in the leg by a pitch and made up the tweet to cover his tracks?”
    I’m not so sure that’s even it 100%. I think Phillips has issues. Mental issues or something. Cultural issues. Maybe he’s not stable. But yeah, maybe someone needs to shut his mouth for him.

    Finally to DK: Masterpiece here, Boss. You won’t be well-liked for this one, but you said what needed to be said. Enough is enough.

  24. Sorry. Can’t get worked up about his one. That’s all.

  25. Agree Drew. For example, Neil Walker time and time again turns a double play incorrectly when he receives the feed which could cost us an out at times. I have no idea why they haven’t fixed this. I also still picture him tagging Matt Kemp as he ran by without his right hand in the glove, and Kemp jarred the ball loose.

    Not too pick on PRNW because we obviously make many fundamental errors. Cutch makes a false step when he goes to steal, picking up his right foot and putting it right back down, instead of turning and pushing off with it. Left foot is supposed to be your first step when stealing.

    It’s like we need a quality control coach watching for these things specifically because they matter. But I believe in the Parcells way of coaching which is to eliminate/minimize errors and mistakes. Focus on that and you increase your chances of winning.

  26. Milo, it’s time for you to take off the self-imposed gag order. C’mon, let it all out ;)

  27. Jandy,

    OK. Kyle Stark should be fired, and it has nothing to do with Navy SEALS. They should rename their plan as “draft and under develop”.

  28. That’s a step in the right direction, Drew…keep up the good work :)

  29. If you think about this…the term “Buccaneeers” were “Pirates” who attacked shipping in the Caribbeans seas centuries ago,. So bringing in the “Navy Seals” kind of fits.
    This is interesting. I am all for team building exercises, but the bottom line is these Pittsburgh Pirates need a win versus Chicago today. Don’t look at a sweep, just one win.

  30. I would much rather see the prospects working on baseball fundamentals over and over again than having some type of Navy Seal training. ( I wonder what the Navy Seal thinks of the Zoltan sign)

    It doesn’t seem to be more productive than working on baseball skills.

    But over the years I have been increasingly weary of ‘scouts’ who go unnamed. No one gets a chance to call their scouting work “a laughingstock” or “horrible”. I’ve met more than a few over the years at Spring Training. Some seem very knowledgeable. Some seem that they can just work the radar gun.

  31. I don’t remember anybody criticizing the Penguins when they went to West Point a couple of years ago. Everybody thought that was great. These Pirate minor leaguers should consider themselves lucky, they won’t have Mike Therrien calling them soff during the SEALS training.

  32. Didn’t the Penquins do something similar with the boot camp idea? I don’t remember anyone being upset about that…?

  33. Ditto, Milo.

    Don’t see the slightest cause and effect relationship here, which I personally think is needed to make it work.

    Column about some off-the-wall training and players/league reaction? Sure, lets hear it.

    Column about poor fundamentals? Why not, lets have it again.

    Column connecting both as a sign of a losing organization? Not doing it for me.

  34. Dejan, Great piece. Regarding the SEALS training: the Penguins have used something similar to great effect in recent years at the US Military Academy at West Point. However, I see big differences:

    1. They did it with their big club in training camp. They did not take all of the guys from Wheeling and WBS and make THEM do it for development purposes. Why waste the time, money, and experience on minor-leaguers, 95% of whom will NEVER helpa your team win in Pittsburgh, regardless of their intangibles and leadership ability.

    2. They tailored the experience to help take a perennial winner and playoff team over the top to achieve the ultimate goal.

    3. The culture of baseball and hockey are very different and the games are very different in style and execution. Baseball is a team game, but requires a series of distinct individual executions to complete a play or an out. Though there is a team element in baseball, but you are very much on your own on the field and success is based on execution without assistance.

    4. The Pens focus was on teamwork, not leadership. They already had established leadership on the team, making the training that much more effective.

    5. It didn’t SOUND stupid when the Pens announced they were doing it.

    This whole thing is crazy and really underscores your point that, beyond whatever merits may be attributed to this military-type experience, the Pirates organization just seems to have no clue what they are doing. Every move they make, from free agent signings, to signing Indian game show contestants, to this, seems to be of the throw-it-against-the-wall-and-we-hope-it-sticks mentality. That’s no way to run a winning organization.

    DK: Biggest difference, actually, is physical. Pens went through one morning of high intensity workouts as sort of a sampler. The Pirates’ plan, unless things change, isn’t a sampler.

  35. 21, I agree with you. But it also may prove that not every player (probably most) is fundamentally sound – and may never be. Mistakes are going to happen.

    But I also remember people clamoring for guys like Marte to be brought immediately. Some said that they have nothing else to prove in the minors. The FO didn’t agree. And now we see what happens in the majors. Same with Brock Holt. ( I believe a columnist tweeted something like ‘bring up the hottest hitter in the minors and sit him, that makes sense).

  36. Its pretty easy to pick on the bucs with this SEALS thing, but unfortunately there is a culture of patheticness (is that a word) with this team and every goofy thing they do is magnified. If they were in first place and kicking butt, you’d be looking at that training with the SEALS and saying stuff like “wow, that’s outside the box” or “this is the new Pirate mentality”. Instead, its “what the heck are they doing now”

  37. NMR
    Excellent points. I agree with you….and wish I was smart enough to have written it.

  38. “Let me just say firstly I’m entirely open to any criticism about how the Pirates run their organization.”

    Brendan,

    YOU’RE open to criticism? What’s this have to do with you? Are you like all the other Kool Aid drinkers and comments about the team and it’s ownership effect you personally? Not surprisingly, that’s usually the reaction I see from you people about any negative comments aimed towards Pirates management.

  39. ” Instead, its “what the heck are they doing now””

    Because it is “What the heck are they doing”. If the PIrates had time for this crap because they were winning and they were doing all the the little things right that the minor and developmental leagues are meant to teach them, then sure; go train with the SEALS, knock your self out…literally

    What the Pirates are doing is akin to buying a new car without knowing how to drive, or having a job to pay for it…cart in front of the horse people.

    Now excuse me; I have a hole in my roof, so I’m out to buy new carpet.

  40. Brian, the Pens’ players had better fundamentals and weren’t a losing team. Your team should be able to play the basics before worrying about bells and whistles.

  41. SJB, well said!

  42. A co-worker sent this to me today:

    “Baseball is a game of long-suffering, and if one doesn’t have the endurance to get over the hard times, bad hops, bad luck, failure-at-the-rate-of-70%-or-better hitting, and all the other things that happen that try one’s patience, they won’t last long in the game.” ~~ Peter G. Doumit

  43. @TC – Thats very kind. I consider myself the proverbial blind squirrel.

    This column came off more like the ramblings of a frustrated fan on Dejan’s blog than one of his classic succinct, well-focused writings.

    Why question Bob Nuttings financial commitment at the trade deadline, then lead off Huntingtons criticism by assuming he had no financial restraints at the trade deadline?

    Sorry, thats just sloppy.

    For an organization with so much low hanging fruit from which to pick, there just seemed to be way too much stretching and teasing going on in this one.

    DK: If I’d written what you describe, it would be sloppy and nonsensical and more. Good thing I didn’t.

  44. Excellent column. Excellent points. I’m sure DK will be well received in the locker room after this one. Good job.

  45. “Baseball is a game of long-suffering, and if one doesn’t have the endurance to get over the hard times, bad hops, bad luck, failure-at-the-rate-of-70%-or-better hitting, and all the other things that happen that try one’s patience, they won’t last long in the game.” ~~ Peter G. Doumit

    Me thinks Mr. Doumit didn’t have the Pirates in mind when he wrote that. Also, he was speaking from the players perspective, not the fan’s.

  46. I have the solution…lose the “root root root for our hometeam, a new pirates generation…” themesong at the park. I think the term is douche-chills.

  47. Give me a break – it’s three days. Maybe incorporating some of the Navy SEAL mindset that conditions men to persevere during tough times will help these players when they experience difficulty during a long season. Shouldn’t players who have reached this level already be sound fundamentally? As someone else said, if the Pirates were having a great season this wouldn’t even be on the radar.

  48. On the objective: The goals for this training include:

    2. To allow our guys to be around elite performers in another field.

    They certainly don’t get to be around any elite performers in their own field!

  49. What is the problem? Hockey lockout. More starters missing for the Steelers this weekend. Crappy baseball lately. That’s what. It’s a recipe for disaster around these parts. Saw a lady use the modern equivalent of food stamps the other day, then climb into a brand new $30,000 SUV in the parking lot. It’s great when everything is upside-down isn’t it? The Bucs better turn of the tumble dry and let us out of the dryer with a massive win streak.

    Go Buccoseals

  50. Steve, the players who reach this level SHOULD be fundamentally sound. But if they are, they forget everything they knew/could execute as soon as they hit the “big club”.

  51. Great piece, Dejan. The SEAL stuff kills me. I get it that lower-revenue teams have to try new things and try to innovate. I’m all for that. However, that should be directed toward mastering the exact skills it takes to be better ballplayers. This SEAL thing smacks of someone who read a story once and became enthralled with a shiny new nickle that’s in no way applicable to the task at hand. But hey, it’s new and cool, so let’s do it!

    Yet another example of goofiness in the highest levels of this organization.

  52. Also…what happen to Bob Nutting’s chest hair?

  53. Seals execute fundamentals and they don’t choke . . Hmm?

    Did some of this grow out of the annual San Diego side-trips?

  54. DK-

    Excellent read. Really, one of your best.

    Too bad they can’t fire Nutting…

  55. Can’t DISAGREE with @NMR any more than I do right now.

    DK is linking the Seven Springs thing and the Seals training to the TOP-DOWN failure of the organization.

    I can’t speak for DK, but the point I got from the piece is: Master the Fundamentals first, then be innovative to take the team over the top. The Pens are an argument FOR DK’s point here.

    Nothing wrong with new and different, innovative training and team building exercises. Its just that they have to FOLLLOW a mastery of the basic fundamentals that this organization fails to teach at EVERY LEVEL.

  56. So, the Pens go to West Point and its a good thing, but SEALS for the is a sign they know nothing about winning?

  57. @redus. Love #39. Amen brother. Preach it. Made me smile and shake my head at the same time. I see that everyday and it makes me throw up in my mouth.

    But you forgot to mention the Pitt football debacles when detailing the Pittsburgh-area sports issues.

  58. John A,

    Seriously, if that’s what you got out of DK’s column you need to grab a second cup of coffee and read it again.

    its not a knock on the Seals, but a knock on misplaced priorities by the PBC mgt.

  59. John A, see jackdeloplane’s reply above…it’s really fundamental…

  60. redus,

    maybe Nutting shaved it like Jerry Seinfeld did in that one episode. i just saw that re-run last night. ha!

  61. DK…. well done… I’m all-in with it except for the SEALs stuff… no big deal to me… and honestly, a little challenge can go a long way in life… perhaps even to demanding of oneself to execute a bunt, for which NONE of the players you mentioned have had much success doing, or showing any pride in being able to do it.

    The lack of fundamental execution is a glaring weakness of this organization… to correlate a mini SEALs training regiment to that weakness is, to me, a stretch. There’s room for that in an athlete’s development, but as you’ve written, there’s a definite need for an overhaul of the fundamentals throughout the organization.

  62. I’d bet 5 stupid squirrels that at least 5 minors players actually WANT to resign after this training “exercise” is over. I’m no soldier and I’m no pro ball-player. I’m a historian. But my military history experience tells me these guys may be in for some major resentment towards this organization (if it isn’t already there) if the training is as intense as DK indicates it will be.

  63. Maybe Gordon Ramsay will start up a “Baseball Nightmares” show. Maybe that’s what’s needed to save our Bucs.

  64. Dejan – awesome article as usual. My two cents: the SEAL traning would seem to be something for a profession that requires total team chemistry, physicallity, and a one-ness as a unit (i.e. hockey, football, etc.). Baseball is mainly based on practicing fundamentals and repetition to become a better player and a better team. Baseball teams need harmony, not chemistry. If a team gets a new SS lets say, he doesn’t have to work as hard meshing with the other players as a new LW or WR would. As Dejan mentioned, the first three days the Pirates will not be using any bats, gloves, balls, etc. Maybe it would get Tabata to lose some weight and somehow care more, but I’m not buying it.

  65. Excellent column Dejan. A team with this much borderline talent should at least excel in the fundamentals. Do you know if Burnett tore into his teammates after they left him hanging in Cincy? He certainly should have.

  66. Naje,

    The Apple I phone is innovative, but FIrst, and foremost they have an operating phone. It works. All the time. they get it right. Then they innovate.

    3 days of Seal training is cool. 3 days of baserunning 101, bunting 101, Holding runners on 101 would be more useful. Less cool, less innovative, but essential to building a winning organization.

  67. Brad,

    I know some Seals, and I think the pro ball players will be left with a renewed respect for them and for professionalism in general. I think you may be right, that 5 players will want to resign after the training. Those are the ones we don’t want in a Pirates uniform in the future anyway. So, I think the 3 days with the Seals will be beneficial, but not as essential as 3 days reviewing fundamentals.

    Sorry repeating myself here. Maybe I’m the one who needs more coffee!!

  68. Dejan

    I usually enjoy your columns and agree with almost everything you say, but this time I am just not on board at least with the first half of the column about the navy SEAL’s thing. Many premiere athletes seek out this type workout during the off season. It build’s mental toughness and leadership skills.

    The second half the year we have made just as many mental mistakes as mistakes trying to lay down bunts. Garret Jones on Wednesday not fielding the ball cleanly with a pitcher running to second was completely mental. There was no need for him to do anything on that play except make sure he 100% secured fielding the ball cleanly. The pitcher wasn’t going to third on that hit no matter what. If he was mentally in the game he would have played that ball the way the situation dictated.

    Also it said that they added days to include this. That seems to me that they are saying they did not take away from the actual amount of time baseball instruction was happening.

  69. “But was that same authorization in place to get the more sorely needed bat?…Was cost the problem?”

    “Assuming the GM worked without financial restraint…”

    I must be missing something.

  70. You can’t make this stuff up.

    Hope, but expect the PBC to continue to do things that make you scratch your head….

  71. Is not mental toughness, leadership, battling through adversity and learning how to be aggresive part of baseball? These players in low A ball have 3-5 years to learn how to bunt. I highly doubt 3 days is going to make a difference especially when as stated these days where added not in place of baseball instruction.

  72. @jack

    If you think the point of Dejan’s SEAL example is that losing three days of low level instructional practice is detremental to player developement, then you may be the one who needs another cup of coffee.

    The reps lost don’t even add up to a drop in the bucket.

  73. Re: Pirates
    I’ve applauded what Clint Hurdle has done in the locker room to change the culture of losing that has seeped from the walls, but, even at the trade deadline, it was clear that the changing the mindset of the front office was the bigger challenge. Perhaps Huntington has gotten this team as far as he is capable…

    @ Eric Bowser, re:NHL
    I don’t see any agreement being reached on a new CBA unless it involves increased revenue sharing, which is something the owners are loathe to concede.

    Despite the league itself generating record revenue, the majority of that revenue is coming from about four teams. The rest of the teams are realizing significantly less revenue, and are struggling to break even. To put it in perspective, even the Penguins operated at a net loss last season. When the owners point to “conceding” salaries to 50% of revenue, realize that would still leave a significant number of teams unable to balance their books. A salary cap alone will not make the league sustainable over the long term. Increased revenue sharing has to be part of the solution.

  74. The idea that this prevents them from teaching fundementals is just laughable. Baseball is a more complicated sport then most but 4 years in the minors is plenty of time to learn the fundementals not to mention the 8-12 years these guys played baseball before they where drafted.

    Do they need to improve on their fundamentals? Yes, I think they do, but this is not preventing it. What they do the other 362 days of the year probably has something to do with it.

  75. Jack… I get what you’re saying, but like NMR state above, this doesn’t supplant any fundamental training as far as I can tell. And really, three days of fundamental training in the life of a young baseball player is nothing. They’ve already had, since their high school days, thousands of hours in a batting cage, on the field, etc. And every batting practice session begins with bunting (at least in most organized practices) and includes situational hitting as well as raking for the fences or putting your best swing on the ball.

    This SEALs stuff is really nothing. It’s a quote from another GM who calls the farm system a laughingstock…which, if you want to talk pure fundamentals, is probably close to the truth (or the players they’ve picked just absolutely stink). But to call them a laughingstock because they’re bringing in a SEALs instructor for a mini-training session? Whatever. You’re going to get gripes all over the place…especially from the players…the fear of the unknown.

    But let’s ask this: what happened with the PBC when they were in unknown territory at 16 games over .500? Perhaps several of the big league players could use a little upgrade in their ability to play with a target on their backs…just as DK mentioned in the article. Lots of cowering performances from those with the bats, gloves and spikes in this tailspin.

  76. @jack

    I hope they are beneficial, really do. I just have my doubts that a bunch of younger guys who signed up to play baseball and instead are being physically drilled by some of the best soldiers in the world will see it that way. There’s a reason, as I’m sure you know, most people can’t be a SEAL, and I think the younger players are going to resent this. I think I would be more understanding if they did something like this in spring training- Tabata might be carting around a smaller gut then.

  77. This morning on sirius mlb radio they were talking about the Pirates latest collapse. In the next sentence they were talking about the bright future for the team with the young pitchers in the system, hoped future development of PA, etc.
    But if the constants such as lack of fundamentals, poor scouting, unfocused upper Management always exist, is there really such a bright future?
    I can’t find immediate fault with the Seals training experiment.
    But I hope other areas of concern are revisited.

  78. I think you can find many examples poor fundamentals on just about every major league team.

    Just the other night Bob Walk criticized (rightly so) Brandon Phillips for not being on second base when the other runner was getting into a rundown between 2nd & 3rd.

    When you team goes on to win the division (maybe because the make less fundamental mistakes, maybe not) you tend to forget the mistakes…or have a higher tolerance for them.

    When your team slides you remember the missed bunts on squeeze plays, Brock Hold was staying back when fielding the ball, and the Chase was positioned wrong in turning a DP.

  79. No, no, I’m not saying that missing out on these 3 days of fundamentals causes them to no be able to bunt, and i agree that these reps missed are a drop in the bucket, and I do think that spending time with the Seals can be helpful.

    I stated that DK’s point was that it is Management’s job to place a higher priority on fundamentals as opposed to setting a different tone with these innovative training methods. Remember Di’s point in Thursdays chat and today’s column is that this organization doesn’t know how to win.

    Innovation doesn’t win, solely. Fundamentals do. Add the innovation later.

    No Nate 83 it doesn’t prevent them from teaching fundamentals, but it does send the message that we are so OK with the fundamentals, that we can spend time on this innovative training. that’s a bad message at this point, i think

    …and I ALWAYS need another cup of coffee, NMR!

    i often agree with you NMR, and I do understand your point with the Seals. it will be beneficial, i think. i just think Mgt needs to recognize the glaring lack of fundamentals throughout the organization, first. And that is what i took from DK’s column

  80. I think it’s kind of cool that they’re doing navy seal training. It’s not like they’re spending months on a submarine and eating nothing but… i dunno… MREs.

    maybe they should spend a few more hours bunting and fielding grounders. but a few days of minor leaguers with navy seals instead of bunting practice is… the least of their problems.

    Pirate Fan Advisor is 100x more of a scandal than this.

  81. Let me throw this out there:
    I don’t watch ALL the MLB games, but I’m betting there is no team even close to missing the fundamentals as much as the Pirates are.
    I see the points made by TC and NMR, naje and radio.
    But I’ve been seeing way too much that isn’t done right on this team from the top on down…to the management to the field.
    Sure, every team has it’s off nights. But the Buccos have had off nights for way too long.
    Then it becomes a fault, not an off night.
    The best way to fix those faults are practice and drilling the fundamentals they are butchering.
    After you do this, then play Army, or Navy, or whatever drives your tank or floats your boat.

  82. TC

    Your logic is obviously flawed. The Pirates have won zero games this year based on other teams mistakes. Oh wait that’s right I remember 2 games we won without even scoring an earned run. Another game I think we scored 4 runs in an inning without hitting a ball out of the infield. You may be on to something.

  83. It’s management’s job to find better baseball players. You know what kind of baseball players continuously mess up fundamentals ? Lousy ones.

  84. Guys, I have a bid to work on…so if I do’t respond right away, be patient. I’m not ignoring anyone or being obtuse.

  85. We’re on the same page here, Jack. I think I’m just speaking more of the article itself than the situation at hand. I appreciate the response and enjoy your posts.

    And I absolutely don’t want to sound like some literary snob crituiquing DK’s every word. He’s infinitely more capable than I am at his job. I just take him seriously when he says he appreciates feedback, from all sides. For me, personally, this article didn’t have the same qualities that make DK the only sports writer I read on a daily basis.

  86. DK,

    You forgot to mention the brilliant Magehee for Qualls trade that we’ve all come to love and appreciate. There’s still time for the Pirates to turn things around and at least have a winning season, but my confidence that they will is not high. Whatever happens, they need to be proactive in the offseason to better the team for next year.

  87. Jandy

    Can’t check while at work but I believe the Pirates are middle of the back in most defensive catagories. I definately think they could be better on the bases. It just seems like they are the worse because we see every play. Playing the Astros showed that we are definately not the worse fundamental team.

  88. “I don’t watch ALL the MLB games, but I’m betting there is no team even close to missing the fundamentals as much as the Pirates are.”

    You’d lose that bet, friend.

    This isn’t to say that the Pirates fundamentals are good, by any stretch, but watch the MLB long enough and you’ll see just how bad they are all over.

    I could go off on a tangent there, but I’ll spare everywhere.

  89. “…it was clear that the changing the mindset of the front office was the bigger challenge. Perhaps Huntington has gotten this team as far as he is capable…”

    That gets it perfectly, RELENTLESS_FORECHECK.

    I’ll add that at this time of year, all teams in MLB are tired and banged up. But some of them are still hitting the ball out of the park, while others aare hitting warning track fly balls. 3 days of SEAL training won’t help, but perhaps a solid off season regimen of regular long haul athletic conditioning might. Alvarez still “disappears for weeks at a time”, as DK wrote, but regardless, he is in the best shape we’ve ever seen him and has 27 home runs and is showing he belongs. The athleticism of MLB isn’t so much the ballet of the game, and the strength of the swat; it’s the grind of the season. The winners have to have it all.

  90. After looking at Casey McGehee for 3 weeks, the Yankees dropped him from their post season roster. In favor of Steve Pearce.

  91. The Penguins did their own military-style training for a couple of years in a row under the Therrien regime. All I heard was praise over that. This is not what we need to be wasting mental energy on…what’s wrong with some team-building in the offseason?

  92. Although I think Hurdle has to shoulder some blame for collapse 2.0, I have to admit I feel bad for him. His before and after photos from managing the Bucs are going to resemble those of a US President after 2 terms in office.

  93. @Dan Finnegan,

    Mcgehee is hitting .174 for the Yankees. His replacement amounted to Gabby Sanchez, who is better this year, and who has better potential for the future. In the play of it the trade for Qualls would have been better if we’d have just given Mcgehee away for nothing, since Qualls has actually played and cost us games, but historically the Bucs have done pretty well getting good innings out of guys who were cast off by other teams: Grilli, Hanrahan, etc. This year that hasn’t worked out, but the pattern is not that bad overall.

  94. This is not an exact science…
    DK, As you probably know, I agree with you 95% of the time. But not this time.

    Stark: Who knows if the SEALS training will make a difference. None of us knows. Who knows if in the future other teams start doing this because of what the Pirates started doing? i think it’s worth a try.
    We are questioning their fundamentals that should have been developed in the minor leagues. Guess what, the mistakes I’m seeing should have been developed in Little league. I am teaching this stuff and my coaching pears accross the area are teaching this stuff to our little leaguers and most of us are not even close to being Major or Minor league coachs

    Last year the Pirates spent money at the deadline and it didn’t work. Sometimes these things work out and sometime they don’t. This is not an exact science (Example: LA Dodgers this year). No way I want to trade any of our top prospects to take this risk. We know all too well the pain of 20 years and I don’t want to give up the farm (or top prospects) for one year and then lose again for another x number of years. I like the guys that they brought in at the deadline. I think they can help us in the future but only time will tell.Who knows, maybe one or two could be All-Stars?

    Ownership: one minute we love them and the next minute they are terrible. I hate to say this but this is the best owner that we have had in many many years and they are investing heavily in the best way they we have to approach this thing.

    Huntington: Sure he has made some bad moves. But so has every GM out there…i like what he has done. We are moving in the right direction.

    Hurtle: Love the guy. Best manager here since Leyland.

    Pitching coach: The guy walks on water when things are great but then we take shots at him when the pitching struggles (why can’t he fix JMac?, etc)

    Batting coach: Fire him. He is terrible. But then we start hitting and it’s a different tune.

    Guys/Gals, I’m not giving up on this team yet. They played unbelievable ball up until August 1st. This is pretty much the same personal. You know it’s hard to comprehend why some of the teams in this league have played so bad early but our playing so well now (Padres, Phils, Brewers, etc) and others are not playing as well as they did earlier including the Pirates. Who the heck knows why…

    This is not an exact science.

    20 games to go. This team is not going to quit and I’m not going to give up on them yet. Let’s hope that today is the day that they turn this thing around. LET’s GO BUCS!!!

  95. NMR,

    Agreed. I like the discussion. And Dk’s the only one I read as well.

    Brad,

    Love the point about tabata. Perhaps he’s one of the ones we should weed out. Or maybe he’ll see what a professional looks like. And I think they tailor their training to meet the needs of their clients. Tiger Woods and others wouldn’t do it if there was any real danger of serious injury. of course, I can get seriously injured right here in my stinking cubicle, so….

    Love your point Milo. Find better players. Great idea. Headley, anyone?

  96. “To give our guys a unique training experience to reinforce …..mental toughness (confident and calm under pressure).”

    Wow. Taking a fraction of time to discuss the SINGLE biggest reason for the collapse, as DK himslef pointed out in yesterday’s chat (he said FEAR). Not at the expense of fundamental – which are obviously horrific – but as a supplement.

    This a story, for real? And NOT a positive one about management identifying a legitimate reason for failing and taking a creative approach to address it, at least in a small way? SEAL training is used across all sports and by hundreds of Olympians, too.

    DK, agree to disagree, I guess. Personally I’m for anything that can help allevaite the FEAR, as you pointed out yesterday.

  97. “There are players, agents, even team personnel who are fuming over Stark’s plan.”

    I have no idea if training with Nave SEALS has benefit to a baseball player.
    But the thing that struck me about the quote above from DK’s article is : are the team personnel above Stark?

    If so, then that is a signal of a management problem. Sure, NH & FC may not like what all of the other people are running their areas and don’t want to micromanage. But with something like this, if the don’t like it they should squash it.

    As far as agents and team personnel below Stark, I don’t care if they are fuming.

  98. Petro,

    Its not an exact science, true, but why do the same teams seem to rise every year? Is it solely money? If so, fine. But its not. A’s, O’s are good examples this year. Will they rise every year? Maybe not, but they are building.

    Maybe we are building too, hope so. but two drastic collapses have to make them review their evaluation processes. and the glaring fundamental lapses are obvious.

    When someone has to go to the Astros to find a team with fundamentals as bad as us, then you know we stink. I think we are just finding our true level. this was a .500 team at best when the season started. That is probably where we will end up.

    I’ll still root for them, sure, but just as in years past we can see shortfalls in the Pens and Steelers play, we can see them in how the Bucs are made up. Difference is that the mgt teams of the Pens and Steelers have proven they can build a winner. TBMTIB has not.

    And my guess is that 3 days with the Seals won’t put them over the top. Nor will skeet shoot in Seven Springs.

  99. Hydroplane,

    I absolutely recognize the importance of fundamentals. But nobody worries too much about moving a runner from 2nd to 3rd when the ball is bouncing around the riverwalk.

    That’s Headley !

  100. Regarding the Headley trade:
    What was the third piece.

    Tailon, Cole and Heredia are 3 of the top 5 prospects. They are not going to trade them. (to not see that you are going to need pitching in 2013 & 2014 -because we are scheduled to play those years too -would be foolish).

    So who are the other two Top 5 prospects? Was Marte one of them?

  101. Think it was DK who said it on the DK/Steigerwald clip the other day. BMTIB either can’t, won’t or don’t know how to “turn the page”. IMO, or sign a decent free agent.

  102. Mosca @ 92

    Good post. Mcgehee had no place on this team after Sanchez was traded for. If they didn’t trade him he would have been released. They actually got a very good 3 months from Cruz this year and even when he was DFA’d his overall stats for the year were respectable.

  103. Echoing sentiments already expressed: I think the SEALS training is fine as long as it AUGMENTS rather than replaces other necessary training (such as basic drills on basic baseball fundamentals). But, all indications are that training in basic baseball fundamentals is sorely lacking in the lower levels.

    As for the level of spending, or lack thereof, I see a lot of comments criticizing ownership for not spending more. But, I never see any mention of specifics. Spend more ON WHAT!?!?!? The money being spent out there is outrageous. A certain handful of teams are out there driving up the prices for mediocrity, and if they make an investment that turns out to be a bad one, it doesn’t really have adverse effects on them. Think about the Mets paying 36 million for three years of Oliver Perez. That is chump change for them. And then, think about how the Jason Kendall contract had this organization hamstrung for years.

    That’s just one example. How many of these free agent investments over the years actually pan out. I’ll bet the percentage is very low.

  104. Amen, Milo

    It all comes down to the asking price, like TC says. We don’t know for sure, but it sure is fun second guessing!

    Easy for me to sit here and decide what the Mgt team should do when I don’t have all the facts on that trade proposal.

    I guess i just want to see them GO FOR IT! I mean, seriously, what do we have to lose? Really, what do we have to lose??

    Loved the Burnett trade this winter. They took a small risk for a potential high reward. But he is on the downside of 30, so when is the next time they go for it? Should have been at the deadline. I said it before the deadline and after. This collapse was predictable. We are fighting without bullets (kind of like our Marines at the Embassy, but I digress)

  105. @jack

    The O’s are a terrible example if you want to talk about what the Front Office can do for a team.

    The O’s do not have more talent than the Pirates.

    The O’s biggest position player aquisition this year has been Nate McLouth.

    The O’s made zero moves at the deadline. Instead, they waited a month to trade for Joe Saunders and got Randy Wolf after he was DFA’d.

    The O’s lead the league in one run victories. The Pirates are 0-12 in games decided by two runs or fewer since their collapse began.

    That’s all on the players and manager, not the Front Office.

  106. @jack

    What bullets did Baltimore, your example, get at the trade deadline?

    How do you explain that teams performance?

  107. Here’s something to note right from Kyle Stark… the first sentence… “augment”ing the training, not replacing any…

    “We have chosen to add extra days to the Florida Instructional League for some additional training and have some of our players coming in early.”

    So, they’ve chosen to add extra days… for additional training… doesn’t sound like it’s taking the place of any regularly scheduled training. The bigger issue, to me, is training young men to find ways to overcome serious obstacles…like, say, 19 or 20 years of losing; like doing your job with respect to what is asked (fundamentals); learning a different perspective about teamwork, etc and so on…

  108. hmm, good points NMR.

    I was really referring to an organizations’ focus on the basics. Time will tell if the O’s just caught lightning in a bottle this year.

    How do baseball teams build sucessful clubs year in and year out? Is it just money? I hope not, because if so we’re screwed. No, I have to believe its a laser focus on fundamentals and then be willing to take a calculated risk on occasion. A Headley trade is an example of the latter. Do I want to give up a Top 5 prospect for him, plus Lincoln and that extra pick? Maybe….I think at some point we have to.

    But I stand corrected while sitting down, on the O’s. i consider my self rebuked, officially.

  109. Many players are ridiculously overpriced. Not saying owners should pay for someone like Fielder or Pujols. But if they are so strapped that they can’t pony up for meaningful acquisitions, and I mean more than just a Wandy, then get some investors for God’s sake!

    As far as trading prospects, I’d be willing to give even Taillon for a deal involving Headly or a similar player (not that it much matters now). One pitching prospect is not going to make or break everything, especially since that’s our one strong bargaining chip.

    Shero stockpiles young D like the end of the world is coming and only young defense can stop it. Different sport, I know. But he is at least willing to part with one of them if need be to give the team a shot when they’re in the middle of a playoff hunt. NH acts like these prospects are all future Nolan Ryan’s. That’s just arrogant and foolish. I’d hope he realizes other teams have prospects of their own to compete with them in due time. Of course, metrically, Barmes is the best shortstop in the league.

  110. Two words, boys & girls. Buck Showalter. Carry on.

  111. NMR–on the Orioles–they have a better catcher and SS. :-)

  112. Just saw the second post as well on the O’s NMR. You’re right, the A’s didn’t add any either.

    And I’m not qualified to take potshots at the mgt either. Just want to see them go all in. I hate the constant buildup for “next year’ on the trade front, while we continue to see rampant stolen bases by the opposition, poor baserunning, etc. We are building a mediocre franchise, one that is weak at best at the kind of things i learned in Little League. is it a problem throughout the league/ Sure, but let’s be better than that, because we can’t compete in the arena of the Yankees and Red Sox or even the Cards

  113. Interesting column DK, no doubt.

    To a point, the SEAL training isn’t a big deal. However, what the training, and most military training, should provide tools necessary that Kyle Starke is looking for from the prospects. I don’t believe that they need to be run through the physical part of the training. There is A LOT more to SEAL training than just the physical demands.

    However, it will not help them lay a bunt down, run bases, turn double plays, or any other tedious task these players need to make it to the MLB.

    A few days of “outside the box” training won’t hurt them. Kyle Starke looks like a former military guy. We generally believe that our training is the best and provides the best methods for training………of something.

    BTW DK, I liked the “Fort Bradenton” comment, but it would’ve been better served for SEALS to be called “Camp Bradenton.”

    Either way, enjoyed the article.

  114. I think the ultimate outcome is a “Most Dangerous Game”-type scenario, truly demonstrating who has the mental toughness to survive pennant race situations.

  115. jackdeloplane. Your right! But, I don’t think this is a .500 ballclub but I also dont think they have the talent YET to be in the top 5 with regards to wins and loses. Somewhere in he middle. But, keep in mind, the fundamentals weren’t bad all year.

    Mr. DeNucci. I agree with you 100%!

    Headley…Never going to happen.

    The Pirates are slowly getting better (I wish it was faster) and they are being built to get better every year from here on out. Why did it take so long??? Because we didnt have a plan unitl the new management team was brought in and they had a real mess to clean up and they didnt have much young talent. They know and most of us know that it’s not a quick fix to do this thing right.

    But, I can tell you that finishing above .500 this year would make everyone feel a lot better about the progress being made over the last couple years at the ML level. A strong finish is still possable. Let’s hope!

  116. I have felt the wrath in this blog for my opinions about part-time player Pedro, the absolute mediocrity or worse from Barmes, Barajas on a regular basis, and the season-long poor on-field management of Hurdle.

    In one beautiful column I feel vindicated by our HERO, DK.

    I’m in no position to really judge our FO, unless it’s purely on actions, or successful trade activity; if it’s as simple as that, they get an E, or F in today’s grading system.

    BMTIB will get put in mothballs, and forgotten about, as an unmistakable myth.

    Thanks, DK!!! Truth will out, and that occured today.

  117. Dejan,

    I usually like your articles, but this one sucked. Why are you calling out the Pirates organization for the Navy SEAL thing when they’re hardly the first professional sport team in the city to do something similar? Remember when the Therrian had the Pens work boot camp in 2006? That had nothing to do with hockey either, yet the Pens get off without any issues and the Bucs get fried for it.

    Now getting back onto the point your article it’s about time someone from media is giving the Pirates some bad media over this seasons collapse. Thing is why isn’t Hurdles insistance on playing Barmes and Barajas mentioned in the article?

    Why isn’t Huntington’s continuous failures in trading mentioned in the article? You do realize that with the exception of the Dotel, McLouth, Nady, and Morgan trades he’s been very unsuccessful. Every other trade he’s made has been a disaster.

    Why isn’t it mentioned in the article that in 2009 the Pirates even while spending about 10 million in the draft still spent the 29th most money in MLB, in 2010 with the same figure of 10 million in the draft they were again 29th, 2011 they would’ve spent the 25th most money with that 10 million figure, and this season they came into the season again with one of the lowest payrolls in the majors. All the figures above are without even looking at what the other teams in the majors spent in the draft in 2009-2011. Granted money isn’t everything as the Mets, Dodgers, and O’s have shown in the past, but when you’re running on a shoe string budget it does help mistakes disappear. It’s also hard to fill in a troublesome hole in your lineup when you’re only willing to spend about 10-15 million in free agency and your targets are the likes of Barmes, Vazquez, Barajas, Monroe, Overbay, etc instead of one actual good FA target.

  118. Good points, as always Ryan, especially coming from a service man. I’m sure you recognize the importance of fundamentals in your position.

    As per the now infamous non-trigger pull for Headley, even with hindsight, would he have been as valuable here playing every other day and did the rumor of him landing here light a real fire under him? Only he could answer that. We couldn’t get him now for the entire farm system.

  119. @Jack

    Unfortunately, consistantly good teams absolutely are built on money. Not Yankees-Red Sox-Dodgers money, but at least $80-90m.

    I asked yesterday for any examples of GM’s who have built consistent winners over a period of a decade or more with a payroll lower than $80m. The only names that came were Billy Beane and Andrew Friedman. The A’s have been .500 or better in 10 of the last 14 years. The Rays are on their 5th consecutive winning season and don’t show sign of slowing.

    I guess the study should be on those two organizations and the differences between their player developement and the Pirates.

    In my mind, a commitment to winning from the highest levels of management would be paying up for Kyle Starks’ equivalent on either of those teams.

  120. @Arriba/Milo

    Seriously, all three of those reasons are GREAT.

    Good manager and the best three players on your team are straight up the middle(including Adam Jones in CF).

  121. @Lucky

    Thanks. I am by no means, at the same caliber as the SEALS, but yes, we need to be very detailed oriented and the military has added a sense of teamwork that isn’t experienced at any other level. IMO. In a way, we are a larger sports organization and those teams can be run by our same set of values. The key, is having those prospects buy into what they are trying to do. From DK’s report, it doesn’t sound as if people in the system are buying this.

    To be honest, these guys might actually have fun with the training.

  122. I hope is just isn’t $$. I have to believe that. I agree, let’s raid the rays and listen to them. We raided the indians and we are getting their equivalent.

  123. NMR “You’d lose that bet, friend.”

    Won’t be the first, nor the last time, friend lol.
    Anyway, I think my point was, the issues need addressed. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean the Pirates need to, too.
    The collapse this season falls into the “Epic Fail” column.

    Dk does it again. Two days in a row, he has the Lunatics in the Asylum all riled up.

    Good job, Boss.

  124. NMR–agree completely on #117.

  125. @NMR

    I know the Rays are thought very highly of their instructional baseball skills.

    I also know a player in the A’s system and of course raves about their system. He’s a good kid, hoping he makes it. They paid him big money (before the mandatory slots and penalties) for his draft position to avoid a full scholarship to UCLA.

  126. Do you guys really think Buck Showalter made that much of a difference to the Orioles team?

    It seems he’s always got the raw end of the deal wherever he’s been. He’s got to be thinking that he’ll get fired at the end of the year and whoever takes his place takes the O’s to the WS.

    Raw deal in NY and in AZ. Seems to be a good baseball guy. I enjoyed listening to him as an analyis on ESPN when he was out of baseball.

  127. Newcomers, or lurkers who don’t post much, please post your hometown so Biz can add you the the Lunatic Asylum :)

  128. From the Beer Temple article today:

    On Aug. 1, the Pirates were 60-44 and three games out of first place in the NL Central. They’ve since lost 26 of 34 games (8-26, .235 win pct) .

    Can anyone find what is wrong with that 2nd sentence?

    Hint: We are two games OVER .500!

  129. @NMR

    #104. They did get Nate McClouth….

  130. @Lee

    Aparently his math is slightly off.

  131. Ryan–just for me, with very little knowledge, I have the impression of Buck as being his own worst enemy in the past, while always a good baseball mind, rather than getting a raw deal. I have to think he’s mellowed some, or at least modified his behavior, while maybe still being stricter than some with today’s ball players.

  132. @AW

    It could be……Was he known as a hot-tempered guy?

    Always seemed very calm in the dugout, came out when he needed too. But I see his demenour similar to Hurdle’s.

  133. Dejan – great column today. You hit the nail on the head. I have my own words for NH, Tanked Frank (what an a—–e), & Skinflint Nutsack but I can’t use them on this forum. They are a total disgrace. However, we are stuck with these clowns unfortunately.

    The Bucs have to start winning TODAY. They can’t afford to lose one game. The bullpen better be ready to bail out the inconsistent JMac. Our so-called MVP (Cutch) & Daydro better come alive and contribute consistently and often.

    It is time to SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY!!!!!

  134. The Big Mac is the equivalent of a perfectly executed suicide squeeze. Fundamentally sound and always timely. Yum

    please resume discussion

  135. In JAL’s preseason predictions contest, I picked the Pirates for 77 wins.
    All summer I thought I was wrong by a long shot.
    Now, unfortunately, it’s starting to feel like I might have been right.
    Hope I’m wrong.

  136. I have no problem with the low level team doing a SEALS training. For one, if they haven’t gotten the fundamentals yet, three more days of trying isn’t going to help. I still don’t get how people can’t bunt. You play baseball for a living. You should have good hand-to-eye contact so why is it that hard? Even if you never did it before you should be able to after a few days being that you play the game everyday.

    The other reason why I don’t have any issue with the training is these are kids who will get to witness some of the baddest, most dedicated men in their element. It can’t hurt to learn a few things from a SEAL not only in training but in life.

    I think the way things are going in Pittsburgh this should be the MLB teams punishment if they don’t start playing with focus and passion. A two-week stint with the SEALS.

  137. @Jandy

    Good article. Thanks.

  138. Dejan….I love that article….the only shocking thing is that they are NOT learning how to shoot clay pigeons at the same time!!!!

    Clay Foo

    .

  139. radio wave….#135….I do too. :)

    .

  140. WE HAVE TO WIN TODAY!!!!

    No pressure, tho

    Foo

    .

  141. Ryan–I’ll defer to the excellent article Jandy posted, which pretty much is consistent with my understanding of him. It does sound like he got a raw deal from Steinbrenner, though, but who didn’t?

  142. =================================================

  143. @AW

    I agree. That article summed it up. I felt it pretty much backed both of our standings on the situation.

    OH well, he’s such a bad baseball mind, he hired John Russell.

  144. NMR @ 117

    What you say is right on the money. Now that it seems as if we are just a few pieces away we will have to see if that payroll comes up to 70-80 million to go get those players.

    I personally was OK with the payroll remaining reletively low this year because there was just to many holes to know which one to fill. Why sign a guy like Werth to a big contract and have him fall short and set the team back like the Kendall contract. Now that some of the pieces have fallen into place I want this to be the year they go out and up their salary to that level.

  145. jackdeloplane, you’re not hungry, are you?? ;)

  146. :;chasing after Lucky::

  147. Nutting: “That Jose kid in one of our minor league teams is fat. F…A…T. How can a person call himself a professional athlete and stand 6’2″ and weight 350 pounds? He’d probably kill himself on one of my ziplines!”

    Stark: “Have you seen Casey Hampton, Mr. Nutting?”

    Nutting: “Is he a pitcher on one of our minor league teams too? We HAVE to do something about all these fat guys.”

    Stark: “No Mr. Nutting, he’s a pro football player with the Steelers.”

    Nutting: “What the hell are you telling me about the Steelers for, Stark? I wanna know why my Pirates can’t seem to win. I think it’s because we have alot of fat guys on the team.”

    Stark: “I’m sorry Mr. Nutting, who on the Pirates is fat?”

    Nutting: “Alvarez? You know, because he wears his hat down over his ears and he wears baggy pants, so he HAS to have alot of junk in the trunk.”

    Stark: “Well Mr. Nutting, last month we applied a fat-caliper to Pedro and it read only 14%. That’s 14% body fat sir.”

    Nutting: “That’s too fat. And what about that Joel-closer guy? Have you seen the gut on him? It’s a wonder he can tie his shoes! No wonder these guys are losing; they’re all round Stark, and it’s your fault! Now, tell me how you’re gonna fix it, boy.”

    Stark: (Ponders deeply, which emits a stench much like burning rubber). “I know! We’ll bring in Navy SEALs for next year’s spring training!”

    Nutting: “That’s a capital idea Stark. make sure you include that Johnny Weener guy; the guy on the radio. His nickname is ‘The Rock’, and I’ve seen the Rock on wrestling. He’ll whip our tubbies into shape.”

    Stark: (sigh) “Yes sir…”

    Nutting: “Are you related to that Tony Stark guy? you know… Iron Man?”

  148. That was pretty funny, buggee. :-)

  149. Jandy,

    I’m not hungry anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    God Bless America and capitalism. I love me some dead cow every now and then. Now I have a stomach ache, but hey, whatever!

  150. ::gasping:: Oh Lord, buggee, you’re killing me!!!!!!!!!

    jack lol…IBS?

  151. My humble thanks AW and Jandy (bows)

  152. Are the Pirates wanting good ball players or Navy Seals? This is one of the dumbest ideas I’ve heard of. Bring in some stellar baseball players to train these guys if they need help. They didn’t join the Navy. They signed contracts with the Pirates.

  153. SEALs training doesn’t bother me. The physical skills are paramount, of course, but mental toughness is a component that’s been seriously lacking in this team as well. And oftentimes the physical follows the mental. I am sure that’s what the organization brass is thinking with the SEALs crash course. Witness JMac. A big immature kid who needs to grow up and maintain a positive, cool, calculated aggression at all times instead of the constant roller-coaster of emotions. That plus sound “drop and drive” mechanics on the mound instead of the too erect winging of the ball without proper knee bend would go a long way. His lower body mechanics are a mess in the second half, but I see that as symptomatic of where his head is right now, which is to say everywhere. Conquering the mental would do him some good. Same with Alvarez (to improve) and Tabata (okay, maybe hopeless).

  154. I take it my questions won’t be answered?

    1) How do their fundamentals compare to the other 29 teams?

    2) If they’re substandard, how do their developmental practices differ?

    DK: All questions get answered here. What you’re describing is another column for another day. A column isn’t an encyclopedia edition. It’s 18 paragraphs. I had a lot of ground I wanted to cover in this one.

    But then, I’m guessing you already knew that, right?

  155. Certainly. I wasn’t merely being rhetorical I might add. I am genuinely curious about both matters and would love to see them explored.

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