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Wakeup Call: Do NOT let players off hook

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

>> This was what I saw of the second pitch once I took my seat in the PNC Park press box at 7:05 p.m. …

Quite a sight, huh?

You should have heard the place.

Only the Pittsburgh Pirates could do this. Only one franchise.

From 16 games over to .500, from re-bonding a city with its baseball team to ripping that bond to the point that a mid-September game — with actual playoff implications — could draw so few. And so rightly.

There’s nothing more tormenting than having hopes raised, then dashed. Except maybe having hopes raised, then dashed twice. The Pirates have lost 10 of their past 12 games and — get this — have a worse record than the Astros since early August. And they’re at .500. Again.

To my mind, as a lifelong follower of the franchise, this season is the worst out of the 20 to this point. In 1997, nothing was expected, everything a bonus. In 2010, they lost 105. Still not as excruciating as this.

What a scene.

>> There’s plenty of blame to go around, as I repeated in the Wednesday column. But the players have thoroughly embarrassed themselves in these first two games against the Brewers.

Clint Hurdle tried to tiptoe with his criticism by pointing out that Marco Estrada was being seen for the third time and wasn’t throwing anything special. His batters failed to square up meaty fastballs.

I won’t tiptoe: That’s two disgraceful performancs in a row in front of paying Pittsburghers.

People will deserve to be fired if this season ends this way, and the players, of course, can’t be fired. But don’t — I’ll say it again — let these players off the hook.

>> I’ll save the rest for our weekly chat, which is today at noon as always.

Comments

  1. Hurdled says:

    Only a Donnie Iris Skyblast Night can save this team.

    Well that or a competent GM.

    Mr. Nutting the floor is yours.

  2. JMB says:

    @TC

    Thanks for sharing this: “But with all the “whoo” and blowing of those annoying horns, they are making a joke out of the team and best ballpark in America.”

    Even watching on the TV, the horns & woo’ing (literal & figurative) are absolutely irritating.

  3. BarryVanBonilla says:

    By all means, let’s not let the players off the hook. But going back to your recent work, let’s not forget who assembled this team, who teaches it, especially those who have been around long to be attributable to the present regime (by no means excusing the Littlefield and Bonifay reigns of error).

    There is a cultural problem here, that I have discerned spending time around some of the individuals in question. I want to share some of what I’ve seen and been told, though I wish some of those directly involved would go on the record (since some have nothing fo lose).

    Your piece of a few days back captured issues I have seen firsthand, and heard from former players.  What I heard was reflective of systemic problems with priorities (team-building with consultants, core strength training, lectures, etc.) that took time away from on-field drills. As for the drills, there were complaints about them being formulaic, with inconsistent quality of training and a lack of effort expended toward making sure players kept doing something until they did it right.

    The more ephemeral criticisms centered around “too many (development) guys tapping on f******* computers and iPhones and not enough time doing hands-on training.” Also, too much “hairy fairy consultant ****,” presumably at the expense of hands-on training. I heard variations on these same criticisms from multiple individuals, and what I saw of Kyle Stark and his people at Pirate City was pretty uninspiring, inasmuch as they didn’t interact with players as much as with each other and their devices. There was a hell of a lot of standing around by players listening to lectures I couldn’t hear. The other criticism feeds off of the SEALS stuff. The military mindset is very much apparent if you spend time around them, and more so in the telling of people who have spent more time than I have. It has been described as offputting by people, and a lot of players appear not be responding well to it, according to its critics.

    The other universal criticism of Stark is that he is not nearly knowledgeable enough about the actual game (as opposed to the theoretical game) to do his job effectively. Two former players told me that they approached Frank Coonelly about jobs with the organization. Both were sent to Stark. One former player told me Stark was an “obnoxious, disrespectful little ****.” My bias having met him is that this captures it quite well and applies to some of his staff as well (one of his direct reports laughed condescendingly at the idea that Kris Medlen would amount to anything, because he is too small, something I find amusing as I write this an hour or so after he tied Whitey Ford’s record of 21 consecutive starts resulting in a win for the Braves).

    The other player was more specific (and riotously funny). He met Stark, who asked the guy what his experience was in baseball. He rattled off his years playing and coaching at several levels. Stark looked at (and tapped) on his laptop, asking: “Who did you play for? I haven’t heard of you.” The gentleman pointed to the wall behind them and said, “That’s me right there.” It was a large reproduction of one of the three world series celebrations since 1960 (left vague to protect the irate). Stark appeared not to “give a **** ” as it was described to me. Neither player believes Coonelly bothered to tell Stark who he was interviewing, which is borne out by the descriptions of the incidents.

    There is a whiff of hypocrisy here. They talk about legacy, they bring these guys to spring training, put them in the dugout, but when they ask for a job they’re shuffled off to Stark. Now, it may well be that the individuals are not good potential coaches. To me, however, the going on and on about legacy and history, juxtaposed with the way they treat people who were important to the franchise, is telling. Several people told me that Clint Hurdle has had more to do with stressing the legacy than the others.

    In sum, Neal Huntington’s team may be getting better, they may suck, but nobody I know (myself included) thinks they have any ability to relate to human beings very well. In my view, absent that ability (or a willingness to subcontract that part of your job to others who do have it), you’ve already failed. No matter how good your “metrics” are, you’ll ultimately wear out your welcome. My own impressions, outside of a select few people, is that this is a soulless, corporate operation that just happens to be in the business of baseball. That starts at the top, and that is why I don’t hold out a lot of hope.

    DK: All I’ll add is that I can vouch for this individual’s veracity as someone close enough to make the above comments.

    Oh, and I’ll add that Huntington promoted Stark and Greg Smith last winter to the titles of assistant GM.

  4. @cyfeldx says:

    PLUNK THE HORN GUY

  5. Richard Roberts says:

    Losers. All of them. Losers.

    There is no excuse for a second consecutive collapse. None.

    I think it is obvious they have quit and they’re playing out the string. You would think that they’d be sick of losing to Milwaukee. I know I am. You’d think they’d be embarrassed by back-to-back pathetic efforts, but chances are they’ll fail to show up again tomorrow. You’d think they’d be sick of hearing and reading the disgust fans now have for this team. But no, they just go on hitting one groundout after another or swinging through another pitch for yet another strikeout waiting to collect their next paycheck and finish the year.

    If this is what you’re going to do again next year, don’t even bother to come back. Just move the franchise and let some other saps deal with this garbage.

  6. Hurdled says:

    BarryVanBonilla, that is an amazing post.

    Thank you for sharing.

  7. woomer says:

    “and the players, of course, can’t be fired. ”
    —————————-

    I guess effectively you can’t rid of all the players….
    But contractually (if my memory serves me right), the Pirates are only tied to McCutchen, Tabata, Barmes, Burnett and Rodreguez for next year.

    And it obviously wouldn’t be the most effective move, but it would make quite a statement to include a lot of under-performing players in a top-to-bottom organizational housecleaning.

  8. JoeBucco says:

    This season is definitely the worst. I’m having a really hard time with this one. Written many times about how .500 was a foregone conclusion, and that anything close would be a mammoth collapse. And it has been. This is rough. And though you put the fork in them a while ago, the math wouldn’t let me do the same.

    Until tonight.

    The fat lady has sung. And it sounded like an obnoxious horn blower in a nearly empty stadium. Seriously, that person needs shoved off the Clemente Bridge. Was an a$$. But I digress. This team went from something providing hope and pride and Zoltan camaraderie has ended with a team that might be, right now, as bad as any of them. A team with so much to play for that looks like it doesn’t even want to be bothered with having to actually play the games.

    Heartbreaking.

  9. Reading says:

    BarryVanBonilla- great post.

    Watching the end of the Giants-Rockies game, the Giants win, and a large graphic flashes on the screen: “Magic Number 5!”

    That immediately caused me to flash back to a time in 1974 in Reading, firing up the radio to listen through the static with my Dad to the Pirates clinching the division title.

    I wonder if anybody from the BMTIB ever listened to the Pirates clinching a playoff berth growing up. Do they even know who Honus Wagner was? Pie Traynor?

  10. JoeBucco says:

    14-30 now since Cutch got hit by that Aroldis Chapman 101 mph fastball and nobody on this team had the fire and fight to do anything about it.

    Just sayin… the Reds told us that night (and the next day) who they were, and more importantly, who we were. And they were right.

  11. Ed says:

    BarryVanBonilla,

    Thanks for sharing. Fantastic stuff, although in a very unfortunate way.

  12. Fat Jimmy says:

    Okay, some good news: the Cubs definitely can’t pass us in the standings!

    More positivity: if memory serves, didn’t we finish 4th in 1989?

    A great post by BVB, but I don’t know what to make of it. I have no doubt all of it is true, but a) a lot of it presupposes that ****ish behavior by the FO is causing players to tune out and perform poorly and b) that the same couldn’t be said about every FO.

    I’ve met my share of baseball people, and they were all ****s. That’s just baseball people. And the computer/iPad thing … Walk into Chick-fil-a and they’re staring into iPads too! Welcome to 2012. I have a hard time believing other franchises are still relying on notebooks.

    I’ve been calling for Huntington’s ouster for years and getting rid of him is the right thing for the franchise. But all these infrastructure problems didn’t stop the team from going 16 over as of July. I understand Dejan’s point of how the lack of depth has hurt this team … I just disagree with the primary problem. No team’s depth can solve slumps by ALL of its superstars. Minor leagues don’t readily replace superstars.

    All of these points would be more valid if the team BARELY missed winning the division and Cutch was still hitting .360 and James McDonald had an ERA under 3.00.

  13. Ross Insana says:

    Great post by BarryVonBonilla. and JoeBucco, I’m sick and tired of hearing that as an excuse to the struggles the Pirates have had. It’s pretty pathetic hearing people directly correlate ONE EVENT with a month and a half long string of struggles (just like the 19 inning game loss last year). Not ONE EVENT undermines a “collapse”, it’s a multitude of reasons. Correlation does not imply causation!

    If you honestly believe that scenario did this, then you should turn in your hypothetical baseball fandom card. Look back at the scenario before you criticize it….that closed out the game since Chapman was in, so the Pirates had NO SHOT at retaliation that game. Next game, in a supposed “must win game”, the team leader and ace in Burnett was on the hill for the start. Harrison gets plunked in the and both benches are warned for that. What did you want happen, Burnett plunk someone and get tossed in the 1st inning and then have the bullpen burn out and pitch the entire 9 innings? I am a firm believer in unwritten baseball rules because I went by that book when I coached 15-16 year olds this summer. But it’s asinine to believe that one moment led to all of this.The struggles have been a mixture of poor decision making from coaching and players, lack of offense, poor defense, bad execution, and what was the strength of the team coming into the season and for majority of the year; THE BULLPEN.

  14. Will says:

    Heartbreaking is the only word that I can come up with.

    As a 23 year-old fan who has always muddled through the misery of bad baseball, I got the taste of what good–check that, great baseball felt like. Celebrating the wins, watching the out-of-town scores, the pride and the passion…even the Zoltan (which I couldn’t stand) was incredible. The team spirit and bonding the players had with the fans was unlike any I had experienced…it was amazing-it was something I’ve never even understood the feeling of. The day-to-day excitement of a pennant race, what ecstasy it was! Th streak was a foregone conclusion, I was thinking…NLCS!? The best part was I wasn’t crazy to honk that optimistic!

    …now…I don’t even know what to think. I feel like my Pirates-fan soul has been ripped out and left for dead. I cant even watch the games on TV. I only tuned in for half of tonight’s mess before giving up. The worst part, the absolute worst-was the hope I felt–the taste of REAL BASEBALL-a pennant race! …all a sham.

    I bought into it. All of it. I almost feel betrayed, if that’s even possible. I don’t know. It’s hard to put into words. I hope–and I’m serious in saying this–that SOMEDAY I will get to feel the atmosphere of October baseball–because I’m not sure I will. I always thought “we’ll get there eventually.” Now…I don’t even know.

    Some will say I’m being rash, that this team has potential to improve next season. I reply “how?” How do you improve with this squad-SIXTEEN GAMES OVER isn’t safe!

    Frustrating. Heartbreaking. Who do I even blame?

  15. AZBucsFan says:

    Fantastic post by BVB. I, too, was holding out hope these past couple weeks. Surely playing teams (Cubs, Astros, Brewers) below them in the standings would re-light the fire. Make the players, coaches, everybody realize what a grand opportunity they could take hold of. The Dodgers, Cardinals, and even the Braves (for a short time) were playing poor baseball, too. But not only did my beloved Buccos, who were 63-47 on August 8, not take advantage of their situation, they basically threw in the towel. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought, with 52 games remaining, that they would play themselves back to .500. Never, EVER. And yet here we stand, looking at the rotting remains of a season gone bad. What type of team plays so well, raises so many expectations, only to take them away so quickly? A team that truly doesn’t care, from the players, to the coaches, to the front office. And you know what, if they don’t care, neither do I. GO STEELERS!!!

  16. BarryVanBonilla says:

    Thanks for the responses. To add a thought, it is hard to identify any one cause for the lack of progress. The dearth of good players is a good start, but my own suspicion is that there are institutional issues that need confronting along with the specific issues surrounding the performance of Smith and Stark. Littlefield and Creech had to go. But replacing people is a tricky business. As Lincoln famously said, “I can’t just fire McClellan. I need to hire somebody else. Who?”

    From my own himdsight, I would not have hired Coonelly and Huntingon as replacements. Let’s hope that if Bob Nutting goes down this road again, he has already done the hard thinking about who, and is willing to hire people who are multi-dimensional than the robots who now run the store.

  17. unclefree says:

    It’s literally like watching your dog die.
    I cast my vote of blame squarely on Hurdles back.
    I always appreciated his willingness to follow his gut and not “the book”. But
    his instincts have failed him….miserably. When to pull a pitcher…who to bring in….when to bunt….when to hit and run….when to pitch out….who to pinch hit…….who’s in the line up……all of which are his decisions. The success of these decisions has been incredibly poor. Keep chomping on your gummed Clint….maybe someone will square the ball up tomorrow.

  18. Mike says:

    Cannot overlook the turnaround after the Reds series in early August. Cutch hit by a pitch with no retribution changed the psyche of the team. The Reds made a statement and the Pirates did nothing. They haven’t been the same since.

  19. Matt says:

    I was ecstatic in ’79. The early 90′s were fun. ’97 was a pleasant surprise to see a team with little talent, but a lot of heart. This year has been as disappointing as it can get, very cruel!!! Great post by BVB. The only player that has been CONSISTENT all year has been AJ Burnett.

  20. Matt says:

    I wish I wasn’t so loyal and could just switch teams to root for. My brother in law had a good idea, he told me to pick a favorite American League team and root for them and I wouldn’t have to root against my Pirates, so I decided he was right and went out and purchased a Kansas City Royals hat! Go Royals.

  21. Drew71 says:

    I don’t know, Matt. Barmes and Barajas have been pretty consistent.

    Unfortunately.

  22. Matt says:

    I used an old John McCay line the other day and the conversation went like this:

    Buddy: How do feel about the execution of the Pirates involved on the attempted suicide squeeze play last night?

    Me: I’m in favor of it!

  23. Matt says:

    Drew71,

    I stand corrected. I am glad to see Barmes doing better at the plate lately.

  24. Ace McTasty says:

    @BVB

    I don’t doubt anything you’re relaying here for a second, but I can’t view the coldness of the organization as anything but a secondary problem. The robots would look a lot better if they had computed something other than signing Bedard, Barajas & Barmes this offseason. Not to mention the well-documented draft misfires.

    There may be a lot of distant personalities involved, but the primary concern for me is that those personalities are making poor decisions.

    And wow, to think that players in the organization are complaining of a lack of on-field instruction is mind-boggling. Sadly, it explains a lot though.

  25. JUCOFan says:

    Fantastic post BVB. Honestly, this management team lost me in those “7 minutes” on July 31, 2008. Having declined an offer of Cliff Lee and Kelly Shoppach the previous year, they traded Jason Bay for Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris.

    I loved that article DK wrote back in ’08, and it turned out to be a premonition of things to come. Failure down the stretch when the pressure is on is the hallmark of this franchise under Coonelly and Huntington.

  26. JoeyBats says:

    Great job BVB.

    Time for Kim Ng as GM.

  27. John Lease says:

    I really liked that post by BVB. I was all over this a LONG time ago, it’s sad that it’s been verified by someone much closer than I am. I’m just a stupid fan. It hurts, the losing HURTS, the constant sucking HURTS. Being a LAUGHINGSTOCK HURTS.

    Yet Pirate management(other than Nutting, of all people) could care less, and it shows. You can tell Hurdle cares too, but that’s it. And SOME players. Jones, McCutchen, Burnett, Walker. And the guys too young to be steeped in losing.

  28. Thundercrack says:

    Finally, blame where I feel it really needs to be placed at this time: the players.

    I also appreciate the post by BVB. Great insight.
    When people are hired in management I believe they have the right to run things the way the want. That is why they were hired. But, especially in baseball, you can see the results. You have to be able to either adjust/adapt your management style; or know that you can be replaced.

  29. Slick says:

    What was with the Cutch / Snider conversation at the end of the game in the dugout?

  30. Thundercrack says:

    Conspiracy theory #1:
    Neil Walker really isn’t hurt. He is sitting out so the record tanks. He is still p*ssed at NH and Stark for the way they handled his promotion from AAA. He wants them gone.

    Conspiracy theory #2:
    Lacee Collins. They haven’t played the same since she was canned.

  31. JAL says:

    JAL’s Washington My Home 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

    Pirates Notebook: Pirates See Record Drop to .500

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/pirates-notebook-pirates-see-record-drop-to-500.html

    First Pitch: The 2009 Draft Class Lacking Impact Talent

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-the-2009-draft-class-lacking-impact-talent.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates Lose Again, 3-1, As Playoff Hopes Effectively Vanish

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/9/19/3360960/pirates-lose-again-3-1-as-playoff-hopes-effectively-vanish

    Under Pressure: Leveraging The 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates (Part 1)

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/9/19/3357444/under-pressure-leveraging-the-2012-pittsburgh-pirates-part-1

    6 Rumbunter

    Milwaukee Brewers Series Six-Pack With Reviewing the Brew

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/09/18/milwaukee-brewers-series-six-pack-with-reviewing-the-brew/

    7 Allied News

    EXTRA INNINGS: Buying a ticket is like signing a contract nobody reads

    http://alliednews.com/sports/x72191801/EXTRA-INNINGS-Buying-a-ticket-is-like-signing-a-contract-nobody-reads

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bat Bucs Missing In 3-1 Loss

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/09/bat-bucs-missing-in-3-1-loss.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Back to .500

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/09/back-to-500-2/

    10 WHY GAVS

    The Pirates don’t care about throwing out base stealers. Should they?

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/august-2012/the-pirates-dont-care-about-throwing-out-base-stealers-should-they.html

  32. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Brewers Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120920_MIL@PIT/brewerspirates-preview

    12 Fox News

    Pirates fall again, 3-1 to Brewers

    http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/09/19/pirates-fall-again-3-1-to-brewers/

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pirates Report

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-teamreportmtze89jkik01e-20120919,0,759963.story

    14 Uniontown Herald Banner

    Bucco Banter

    http://www.heraldstandard.com/multimedia/videos/featured/bucco-banter/youtube_7452bfa5-e166-5ab1-bf17-2fb3b1705f35.html

    15 North Hills Patch

    Show Me The Money’: Pittsburgh Sports Figures Talk about Big Business of Sports

    http://northhills.patch.com/articles/show-me-the-money-pittsburgh-sports-figures-talk-about-big-business-of-sports

    16 Wichita Eagle

    Walking the plank

    http://blogs.kansas.com/lutz/2012/09/19/walking-the-plank/

    17 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Brewers keep distance in pursuit

    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/170415266.html

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    18 PBC Site

    Bucs back at .500 after loss to Brewers

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_09_19_milmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=pit

    Seems fishy: Bucs bit by curse of Bream?

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120919&content_id=38656970&notebook_id=38657074&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18409

    20 Fangraphs

    The Orioles and the Most Influential Bullpen

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-orioles-and-the-most-influential-bullpen/

  33. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    5 Burning Questions: Steelers Week 2 Second Opinion Edition

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/9/19/3355792/pittsburgh-steelers-oakland-raiders-al-davis-jets-nfl-films

    Steeler Nation’s Best Four Hours in 2012

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/9/19/3353368/steelers-jets-week-2-nfl-highlights-experience

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Raiders Running Backs Are More Of Threat Out Of The Backfield Than In It

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/09/raiders-running-backs-are-more-of-threat-out-of-the-backfield-than-in-it/

    23 Steelers Gab

    Steelers at Raiders Week Three Capsule

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/09/18/steelers-at-raiders-week-three-capsule/

    24 Nice Pick Cower

    Steelers Must Avoid Trap Game Versus Raiders This Sunday

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/09/19/steelers-must-avoid-trap-game-versus-raiders-this-sunday/

    Pitt Blogs

    25 Pitt Blather

    Josh Newkirk Wastes No Time

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/09/19/josh-newkirk-wastes-no-time/

    26 Cardiac Hill

    Jahmahl Pardner Is Lost For The Season As Cornerback Depth Suddenly Looks Shallow

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/9/19/3355522/jahmahl-pardner-is-lost-for-the-season-as-cornback-depth-suddenly

    WVU Blogs

    27 Metro News

    WVU’s Maryland Natives Tough on Terps

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=55088

    28 WV Illustrated

    The Front Five

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/19583183/the-front-five

    Soccer(football)

    29 Sky Sports

    United edge past Gala

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/live/match/274111/report

    30 Daily Telegraph

    Chelsea 2 Juventus 2: match report

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/champions-league/9553335/Chelsea-2-Juventus-2-match-report.html

    31 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 19th September, 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-19th-september-2012

  34. JAL says:

    Washington My Home, by the Tumwalter Girls Choir

  35. Meglasdad says:

    I agree that BVB has a many valid points. But using Ipads, Iphones, etc.. isn’t the problem. Cluelessness is .Which is something he pointed out very well. Great post BVB. Another problem this team has is lack of talent. Many players played over their heads in June and July. In April, many people expected another 90-100 loss season if you will remember. But another problem most people seem to ignore is many of these players seem to have Tin Man Syndrome. No heart. The Reds beaning of McCutchen and other players point this out. Also, the night Harrison got beaned and Burnett was the only player to come over the rail says A LOT. A teammate got beaned and no one came to his aid. The team leader came out to have his back and the rest of the players stayed in the safety of the dug out. A little adversity hit, and they fell to pieces. Just my view on the subject.

  36. BFD says:

    Regime fans not that long ago were telling me it would be virtually impossible to finish below .500.
    Lesson learned – no level is too low with inept mgt. & puny payrolls

    As far as the blame game goes….. Guess who is at fault? Not the players and manager who helped this team over achieve for so long….. THE REGIME!

    And i have to laugh @ Nutting for talking to the press about his disappointment in the season & correcting things going forward. Hey, Bob … How ’bout looking in the mirror & raising payroll so your not sending out pitchers with 11 total innings of experience in the middle of a ” playoff” chase???
    +1

  37. The Gunner says:

    Huntington’s contract was extended last September thru 2014 with a club option in 2015. If he decides to whack NH, Nutcase will have to eat 2 years of his contract.

    I have no idea how much Brainiac NH makes but, how many more bad contracts can this organization continue to eat? Nutsack will consult with the Bucco version of Foster Brooks (Frank “The Tanked” Coonelly) to ensure the right business decision is made in a timely fashion, I am sure.

    The longer these guys are around, the more they appear to be like the 3 Stooges.

  38. Thundercrack says:

    “He’s a power guy, and he can run his fastball arm-side as well as glove-side”

    This is what Hurdle said about McPherson. I didn’t see many pitches last night that were above 91-92 mph. I would not think that is a power pitcher.

  39. Milo Hamilton says:

    BarryVanBonilla,

    Wow.

    Please, share more if you have it. The biggest downfall of Moneyball/Saberbabble is the growing inability to deal with actual people on a personal basis. No WAR value can ever tell you what’s inside a person’s head or their stomach.

    The fact that Stark didn’t know who a former World Champion Pirate was speaks volumes.

  40. Jandy says:

    This is just so sad, I don’t know what to add to what has already been said.
    :(

  41. JMB says:

    @BarryVanBonilla

    Great post!

    I’ll echo what others have said, firing NH without canning FC won’t make any difference. Frank must go as well.

  42. JMB says:

    When we discussed the high ranking FO guy who said that Pirates’ fans are not as savvy as Boston fans, we all had different guesses as to who said it.

    I’m coming around to it being Kyle Stark after all.

  43. Milo Hamilton says:

    Another thing. Isn’t it sad how baseball’s been hijacked by a bunch of computer geeks that not only have never spent any time in a locker room, but have never even picked up a ball or a bat.

  44. TJA says:

    Was there last night. Yep, our group commented, too, about the small crowd. We talked about the excitement of being at the ball-yard in June and July. It really is hard to get your hands wrapped around this. All thjis being said, to get a bit personal for a second: My wife and I lost our son two years ago. Obviously, nothing…and I mean nothing…compares to what we went through. I have been a lifelong baseball and Pirates fan and this sort of has been good therapy, but, still, their freefall and collapse and frustrations….nope…nothing compares. Sports and lots of others things in life we get upset about…it’s minor.

  45. Jandy says:

    Just curious here, how many are going to keep watching every game until the end of the season?

  46. Jandy says:

    TJA, how terrible for you and your wife. Appreciate you sharing. Keeping things in perspective is definitely a good thing.
    Baseball is a business. As such, it should be run like one: in a productive way.
    When that fails, I feel the fans are being made a**es of. That is wrong.

  47. Milo Hamilton says:

    Jandy,

    I will watch every game that I can. I suppose I always will. They just can’t get rid of me I guess.

  48. JAL says:

    Jandy

    I will watch every game the rest of the season.

  49. Karen22 says:

    I am demoralized beyond belief and adequate words fail me. I love baseball—always have. My husband and I met on a diamond. My son played into college. My favorite “toy” was a baseball mitt, not a Barbie Doll – I still carry said mitt in my car in case a game breaks out. The 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates have ripped the baseball heart right out of my very soul. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from this. I do know I will NEVER forgive them for it, though. NEVER!

  50. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Jandy,

    I can’t watch any of the games, but I’ll look at Gameday like a dummy. And watch this blog during the games. And we all know, nobody is going to get fired. We’ll be sitting through all this quackery next Spring, looking at the same stuff, thinking the same things. After all, this is the BMTIB and BMTIS. And we’re all Pirate fans. Some of us may never see another winning season in our lifetimes, but we’ll be watching.

    BVB,

    Great posts.

  51. TJA says:

    Thank you, Jandy. We appreciate it. Yep, keeping it all in perspective is indeed what we have learned. Also, to answer your question, Jandy, I will more than likey stay involved with the team for the final 14 games. What the heck?

  52. Stuart says:

    Make no mistake, the effort of the players who seem to have given up, and the awful sense of inevitability of losing that come over on even the radio broadcasts make it difficult to listen. And, I know this is merely a side issue, but I echo the sentiments of the person who wishes to see the last of “horn guy”. And I would like to add the noise from the fans who are striving to emulate little girl noises. What a bizarre accompaniment to the disaster on the field.

    You really have to be a masochist to watch or listen in these final days.

    Second side note: Hey Barry, are you trying to say that there are no “people persons” operating in our minor league system. If that is the case, it’s hard to figure why the organization would have gotten rid of Lacee who really didn’t strike me as a warm human being. I thought she fit in quite well with NH’s BMTIB. I think NH’s lasting legacy might me a disdain for Sabre-metrics in general. Unfortunately that might be like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Stuart66

  53. Karen22 says:

    TJA—

    We posted at the same time…your ENTIRE heart has been ripped out—absolutely nothing compares to what you and your family have endured. My “baseball heart” is insignificant in retrospect, of course. My whole heart goes out to you.

    Jandy, we stopped watching a couple of weeks ago when the writing got bigger and bigger on the wall. Just couldn’t watch the mast sink lower and lower on the horizon. My Pirate info comes strictly from reading this blog. It’s all just awful.

  54. TJA says:

    As the Pirates are out of any post season discussion: Just for fun, who does anyone like to go deep into this years tournament? Looking at the standings, you already have two NL teams that have reached 90 wins and none yet in the AL. Seems the NL leaders have pulled far ahead of the 2nd place teams. Here’s a crazy thought: How about a Washington/Baltimore World Series? It’s fun to discuss.

  55. TJA says:

    Thank you, Karen. Again…much appreciated.

  56. Matt says:

    Jandy,

    I am a glutton for punishment, so I will watch every game.It feels like getting slapped in the face in front of your mom by your girlfriend though.

  57. Leefoo says:

    Fat Jimmy….I’m with you. It is amazing that this cold and callous management team had us 16 games over .500 just 44 games ago.

    I wonder how much better we would be today, without the collapse of JMac (Kyle Stark’s fault), Karstens’ injuries (NH’s fault for sure) and Walker’s two injuries (Drew’s fault, without a doubt). And it HAS to be Greg Smith’s fault that Pedro is so inconsistent and our bullpen collapse and AMac couldn’t hit .370 all year long.

    I am NOT a Hurdle fan (he’s cost us a few games, too), but at some point the players have to take ownership.

  58. Leefoo says:

    I am as disappointed as the rest of you, but on Apr 1, I would’ve taken (shocked actually), .500 at this point of the season!

    I predicted 70-72 AT BEST!

    Foo

    .

  59. LuckyNKentucky says:

    TJA,

    That would be a fun series to watch. Some of those guys would get some well-deserved exposure and we wouldn’t have to sit through the glowing accounts of how wonderful the Yankees are and how CC Sabathia is the greatest thing since sliced bread and on and on. Thank God, the Red Sox had a losing season. We can forget about them for a while, too.

  60. Jandy says:

    So, Foo-man, does that mean you’ll be watching every game from here on out?

  61. Leefoo says:

    I suggest that, to everyone yelling about the 2009 draft, pls read the “First Pitch” by Tim Williams on P2.

    Foo

    .

  62. Leefoo says:

    In college, I was in a class of 30 people in Advanced Physics. Same tough teacher, 30 smart students. Why do some get A’s, B’s, etc, and some drop out?

    All bright students….. all projectable.

    Btw, *I* dropped out….lol. I knew then, I was NOT cut out to be an engineer.

    Foo

  63. pattonbb says:

    Jandy, I will watch/listen/pay attention to every single game.

    Expectations are allowed to change. Just because we would have been happy with a .500 season in March doesn’t mean we should accept that as a successful season now. Baltimore was projected by most “experts” to lose 100 games. Those fans had no expectations. Should they be happy now if they lose every remaining game and fall out of contention?

  64. Leefoo says:

    Just to refresh everyone’s memory of what our Top 10 list looked like in 2007

    1. Andrew McCutchen, of
    2. Neil Walker, c
    3. Brad Lincoln, rhp
    4. Yoslan Herrera, rhp
    5. Josh Sharpless, rhp
    6. Steven Pearce, 1b
    7. Brian Bixler, ss
    8. Brad Corley, of
    9. Todd Redmond, rhp
    10. Mike Felix, lhp

    The argument is made many times that NH is not supposed to miss picking that high. Well, so far, only potentially Tony Sanchez is a miss and you can’t write him off just yet.

    Also, pls remember that Walker was a bust but this ‘development team’ brought out his skills (I’d imagine calling him a utility player lit a fire under his butt?)

    Foo

    .

  65. JoeBucco says:

    @Ross – the Pirates had no shot of retaliation in that game? Really? So they were required by law to just sit there and watch it happen, even as Cutch was hopping around wanting to tear someone’s head off?

    Sorry, but you are completely wrong. And no, it wasn’t that event that caused the collapse. It was that event that showed what thias team was made of. And what they are made of is what caused the collapse. The event exposed it. And yes, one thing like that most certainly can cause the outcome we’ve seen. When you are around co-workers all day all year, things get tense. And then somethnig like this happens, and the guy who has had you on his back all year long needs you to have his, and you don’t… well, that ABSOLUTELY has an impact, and it DID have an impact.

  66. TCB says:

    Jandy,
    I will watch every game (unless there is a 3+ hour rain delay and the game starts after 11PM). I may not watch until the bitter end (especially late games).

  67. Arriba Wilver says:

    Walker was a bust, but also the #2 player, ahead of Lincoln? Methinks you’re exaggerating a bit. And I don’t think anyone is saying the farm isn’t better today than it was 6 years ago. That’s a pretty low benchmark.

  68. DocJeanO says:

    As a “lifer” who has witnessed three World Series Champs, including being in the bleachers for game 7 of the ’60 series, I hate what has become of my beloved Buccos. I really hate it. It’s being run by a bunch of bean counters, apparently, who have no understanding of the psychology of baseball, or the fundamentals of the sport. when we talk about winners, look at Derek Jeter, who was on the field with his team, even with a bad ankle. Our guys seem to stub a toe and miss a month of playing time. Yes, also, to the beaning incident. While AJ was ready to rumble, the others cowered in the dugout like a bunch of wimps. I wonder what AJ thought when he looked around and was the only guy out there?

    There’s obviously something seriously wrong with this organization, and it’s easy to say it starts with Nutting. Frankly, I think he cares but doesn’t know enough about baseball to know what to do. I’m sure if he agreed to meet with a group of the fans on this blog or the other one, he could learn a lot and make better choices since there’s a wealth of baseball wisdom here.

    I’ll continue to follow our guys, but I can’t watch the games right now. It’s too painful. I tend to peek at the scores. I just hope Nutting makes the necessary changes after the season. Go Bucs!

  69. Jandy says:

    pattonbb, I’m sure they won’t be happy and I bet they let it be heard. They may even stop watching.

    Foo, fine,just fine!

  70. TJA says:

    Lucky – Yes, it is so wonderful to see the BoSox out of things. Now, if the Yankess would just falter in the final two weeks, the Baseball Gods would do us a favor. I got to see the Nationals play in person in July and they are a pretty good team. It would be great exposure for them, as you suggest.

  71. NMR says:

    Great post on #56, Foo.

    And yeah, darn those sabre nerds. We don’t even play with a round ball and a round bat and 90′ bases, and 27 outs…oh, whats that?

  72. Arriba Wilver says:

    As someone mentioned yesterday, some players, like Cutch and Walker, are talented enough to overcome lack of appropriate training.

  73. Sarcastic Sword says:

    @BarryVAnBonilla……Kudos to you for sharing an insight most of us dont know

    What I dont get is how most of the fans and even DK didnt see this coming. When this team was 15+ games over, did you look at this roster and see their level of performance as being expected given the roster? I couldnt believe that this roster had one of the best records in baseball from June 1 through mid-July How many of these guys could start for the playoff teams? Not many. Now I cant sit here and say I predicted a losing record but its something I mentioned to friends and family as something that wouldnt surprise me. They’re the Pirates – its what they do and until Nuttng cleans house ( I mean everyone from Coonelly down to Hurdle and scouts) I wont give a damn about them and they wont have any chance for success with these guys leading the organization.

    Ultimately, the best case scenario is Nutting selling the team to an owner with deep pocket and who is wiling to spend money on legitimate upgrades – not the Travis Snyder’s of the world. When Headley is bypassed and could have been had for not a king’s ransom and they get Snyder, how much more obvious can it get folks?

  74. Bob K says:

    If someone mentioned this before, please forgive me repeating it. This collapse could not have come at a worse time. It started in mid August when I received my season ticket renewal forms in the mail. I let the package sit on the table, and it sat … and sat … and sat. Through each series loss in August, it sat. Through the 7 game losing streak, it sat. Finally, I threw it away earlier this week. I wonder how many other season ticket holders did the same. How many others who had valid hopes and valid expectations of AT LEAST a winning season. Yeah, if they can’t hold onto 16 games over 0.500 …..

    In July, I couldn’t WAIT for my renewal package to come! This past Monday, I threw it away.

  75. Leefoo says:

    I like Bob Smizik’s take on what has caused our collapse.

    Take your pick, lack of hitting or pitching collapse.

    pretty simple, really!

    Foo

  76. Leefoo says:

    Jandy #59….I may be retired, but I haven’t gotten stupider (stupider?) yet.
    :) :)

    Foo

  77. radio wave says:

    I will follow every game here, and throughout mlb the rest of the season when time permits. For years I have followed 3 teams. I figure each season, one of the three will have a year worth following. The teams are the Red Sox, Astros, and Bucs. Well the Boston Valentine’s season has been miserable since st. We all know where the Astros are at. So that left the Pirates to give me something to look forward to. Oh well.
    And this is the last season before we go to the new ridiculus interleague play everyday. And even this years playoff system is messed up with no plans for a playoff if two or more teams tie for the wild card second spot. And my understanding is the wild card winner gets two games at home before they travel to the home park of the team they are playing. Does that make any sense. I will follow all the games until Nov.2 because it’s baseball, and there’s nothing better.

  78. Leefoo says:

    AW…at the time of that writing, Walker was still a catcher, but still had potential. At the time of the writing he was thought of as ‘still has the talent, but it hasn’t translated onto the field yet’. He hit .277 in 2007, but only .242 in 2008.

    Aka, ‘potential bust’.

    Btw, Dejan is wayyyyyyyyy off base….it’s all Hurdle’s fault! :) :)

    Foo

    .

  79. Jandy says:

    FooWuss, you’re not stupider, you’re a wuss :p :P :P

    lol, had to.

    Thanks to all for your feedback, I appreciate it.

  80. TJA says:

    Lee @ #63 – Wow! Thanks for jogging our memory. Man, have things changed.

  81. Jandy says:

    Neil Walker was a catcher? Wow, just wow.

  82. PetroSteel says:

    GREAT posts today! Wow! Great posts! So glad that DK is around and we all have a tool to communicate our thoughts!!!

    My thoughts…
    Foo, you make a great point.
    This team, this organization is definitely going in the right direction. I don’t think anyone could argue with that.
    Of course they made bad moves and things could be better. Every team can say that. They also didn’t trade the future for one year. I am grateful for that!

    Call me crazy but I think that the players choked when they started watching the scoreboard. I think the pressure was too much for this young ball club. How do you explain the fact that all facets have been affected. This team is playing tight. Just like last year.

    I think that’s how some of these teams (that are coming from behind in the standings) are playing well and are catching up. These teams are playing lose and they get on a role.

    It’s all about learning and going through the experience. Some things can’t be taught.

    Just my thoughts. I’m still watching because I am holding out hope that they will get through this struggle and finish strong. Who the hell else am I going to root for? This has been my team since I could walk. That’s a long time ago…

  83. Fat Jimmy says:

    Lee, I just don’t see the logic of the people wanting to blame the collapse on “fundamentals”, trade deadline deals, the owner, and all of these other people who affect the franchise but not at such a micro level that talented guys can all start to suck in unison like they have.

    I’m trying to figure out where Neil Walker fits into this. Go look at his game-by-game numbers. His slump/injury has largely coincided with our collapse. Does that mean that he is extremely important to this team? Does that mean that having a .800 OPS guy at 2B is extremely important to this team? Or does it mean that the Pirates really need that “other” big bat beyond Cutch, Jones and Alvarez?

  84. Arriba Wilver says:

    Foo–I read P2′s article on the 2009 draft. Seems like its pretty consistent with what DK and Callis are saying. Did you read it differently?

  85. Milo Hamilton says:

    Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame.
    But I know, it’s my own damn fault.

  86. JaxBuc says:

    BarryVanBonilla, thank you for giving us an informative, well-written column today. Can you contribute a high-quality column every day that DK doesn’t have one scheduled?

  87. PetroSteel says:

    As you know, these star players dont just come out of the wood work. That’s the problem.There are no guarantees in baseball. How many top prospects don’t ever make it to the majors. How many superstar free agents don’t pan out for a team. I think we are on the right track. Marte should be the next great player (hopefully).

    There are plenty of players that have developed under this development team. Look at McHenry for example. He has taken his game to another level since he got here. Sure he has more to do to get better but he has really shown improvement. Burnett sucked in NY. Why couldn’t they help him turn it around? He has turned it around here. Jones has improved. Walker. Cutch. Alverez (we wanted him gone). Several examples.

  88. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Margaritaville Milo,

    One thing for sure. It ain’t your fault.

  89. Leefoo says:

    AW…you must’ve missed the part where we took potentially good players. Sometimes they pan out, sometimes they don’t. Irwin a #26 pick turning out better than the ballyhooed ZVR?

    Drafting is a crapshoot….that’s what *I* took from that article.

    Bottom line:
    Kinda hard to present pro arguments when the lynch mob wants SOMEBODY’s head for this collapse.

    And it is STILL Hurdle’s fault more….
    :) :)

    I’m outta here for the day.

    Foo

    .

  90. PetroSteel says:

    Don’t give up on us, baby – David Soul

  91. Fat Jimmy says:

    One other point on the SEAL training:

    The Pirates are being criticized for this. The Pirates were mocked for signing guys from India. If I told you that Kyle Stark was also having players take ballet classes, would your initial reaction be to mock and criticize that, too?

    Maybe not, because most Pittsburghers are very familiar with a certain revered athlete who was known to study ballet. Lynn Swann was graceful. He made big plays in big moments. He was a champion. Was that because he studied ballet? Who knows? But no one would criticize the tactic because it was successful.

    If we as fans criticize unorthodox tactics such as signing Indians, Navy SEAL training, ballet lessons and training and recruiting in Latin America, then we’re going to get what we’ve gotten for some time: a bland, unimaginative and unsuccessful organization. Any organization that does not have the freedom to try new things — and fail doing them from time to time — is not going to prosper.

    Again, lots of things to criticize the FO on, that isn’t one of them, in my book.

  92. PetroSteel says:

    carpenters -We’ve Only Just Begun

  93. PetroSteel says:

    Fat Jimmy, you are 100% correct!

  94. Jandy says:

    Milo, that’s old news lol.
    And Lucky is right, it’s not YOUR fault…no matter what spin you put on it.

    Foo, enjoy your day, wimp :p

  95. Jandy says:

    Fat Jimmy, I don’t think the FO was being criticized for bringing in the Navy Seals per se. It was more that people thought that more time should be spent on the basics before worrying about stuff like that. (this team has made stupid mistskes over and over and over again – stuff Little Leaguers don’t do).

  96. NMR says:

    He’s Gone – Grateful Dead

  97. Mike Shigley says:

    @89
    Actually, one out of two of the signings from India appears to be a keeper.

    I have no problem with them scheduling the SEAL training. However, that staff has to use it. From personal experience, training that isn’t reinforced is useless. You attend it, the boss doesn’t apply it or refer to it again, and you move on the old way. You have to tell your people why they are receiving this training, you have to show how it is relevant to what they are doing, and you have to show (by your behavior) that you believe in its worth AND that you are applying it in your work.

  98. SeanAY says:

    NMR–

    One of my favorite Jerry lines comes from that song: “Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile!”

  99. Matt says:

    BVB – like everyone else, I applaud your post and thank you for sharing it, GREAT stuff.

    But the core of the problem to me was stated by PetroSteel, and is something I’ve been saying for the past month now – NERVES. When the bullets started flying, they let the pressure overwhelm them instead of rising to the occassion. We should all be thankful they chose baseball as a career path and not the military.

    Frustrates me to hear so many people say “this is natural regression, they were playing over their heads!” Sure, a little regression was to be expected, but they have totally collapsed primarily because when they step tot he plate, you can see the sawdust falling to the ground because virtually every single player is gripping the bat so tight. FEAR, as DK summed it up in last week’s chat.

    Cutch has struggled too, but he’s still an MVP candidate. Pedro has 29 homers and is hitting close to .250. Garrett Jones is pusing 25 homers and still hitting close to .280. There is legit talent on this team – I cant wait to see Marte play a full season next year. But as Fat Jimmy pointed out, maybe the Walker injury was just too much to overcome.

    If it was me, and it would be a REALLY tough call – cause Hurdle has helped changed the culture here, but his in-game decisions (if he pulls JMAC v Headley back in early August when we blew that 7-1 lead…and leaves Wandy in to face navarro in Cincy last week – maybe we are still alive) – and more importantly that he was the leader for back-to-back nearly historic collapses – I would fire him. I’d actually fire him today after this embarrassment v. the Brewers at home. Let Bannister run out the string and see if he can “manage them” to a winning record.

  100. Mike Shigley says:

    @86

    Agreed. Some prospects succeed and others don’t. However, the pertinent criticism of the 2009 draft is that the prospects in which they invested well over slot money have not panned out and show little signs of success. Yes, you have Victor Black, Brock Holt, and Phil Irwin (and maybe Tony Sanchez, if he gets his early batting eye back), but the big money went to the prep pitchers — a good chunk of the $51M that seems to have burnt to ashes.

  101. NMR says:

    @SeanAY – I have that very line inked on my leg.

    Pretty much describes my stance on the Pirates, and life.

  102. JoeBucco says:

    I agree with Big James. SEAL training, whatever… who cares.

    This team collapsed because
    1. J-Mac
    2. Bullpen forgot they were good.
    3. Karstens injury
    4. Lack of any offense in the 7-8-9 spot all year
    5. Every single that was hit against them was an automatic double
    6. Inconsistent offense
    7. Lack of depth
    8. Lack of veteran leadership outside of A.J.
    9. Midseason trades for offense provided nothing
    10. Horrendous baserunning mistakes

    Not reasons for the collapse:
    1. SEAL training
    2. Use of iPads/Androids/Kindles/Laptops/Abaci
    3. Skeet shooting trips

    I wll say that Huntington doesn’t really have a track record of performing in the clutch when things come down to the wire. See: Last two years of team performance, trade of Bay in final seconds of deadline, handling of Pedro contract in final seconds, handling of Appel deal at end of deadline, Miguel Sano handling in final seconds, etc. etc.

    Not exactly coming through as a clutch hitter, so to speak. Time to try someone a little more cool under pressure and with a track record of success instead of failure.

  103. BarryVanBonilla says:

    While I agree that the Seals, the skeet shooting trip, the laptops and the other sideshows are not themselves to blame for the failure to draft high-quality talent, the overall picture is one of an organization so obsessed with form and process that something appears to have bern lost in the shuffle. You could overlook some of this if Greg Smith could draft well, or Neal Huntington actually evaluate major league talent, but in the absence of that and the lack of transparency in the organization’s operations leaves you with fragments to support an argument best made simply: inadequate drafting, suspect player development and a whole lot of optics that reflect poorly on the organization’s integrity and competence. With the losing continuing, they’re left exposed to criticism of everything they do. All of this side stuff would matter less if there were countervailing signs to encourage, but aside from a couple of rising pitchers and much younger prospects, there is little to show for five years of form over function.

  104. pattonbb says:

    SeanAY – My favorite GD song includes this dandy….

    “Just like Billy Sunday
    In a shotgun ragtime band.”

  105. Thundercrack says:

    “a good chunk of the $51M that seems to have burnt to ashes.”

    Didn’t a good chunk of that $51M go to the first round picks? And a lot to second round picks?

  106. LuckyNKentucky says:

    I really think folks have given up on Tony Montana Sanchez too early. This kid is better defensively than Barajas right now. Probably offensively, too. Maybe his act is a little old, but he can grow up. He may not be an All-Star right off, but he has the tools to succeed. He upped his average in AAA to .233 and hit better at the end of the season. Pitchers seem to like to throw to him. If nothing else, a solid backup to Fort or someone, as Rod becomes a coach and team father figure. JMHO, but I’ve seen him in his raw days and was impressed then.

  107. RobertoForever says:

    Jandy,

    I will watch every game, to the last pitch. Still rooting for them to go 8-6 to break the streak.

  108. Matt says:

    Lucky,

    I agree with you. With tony catching the other night, i bet there wouldn’t have been 7 steals! The bases we are giving up is very embarrassing and demoralizing.

  109. LuckyNKentucky says:

    With you on that, RF.

  110. Matt says:

    Me too Robertoforever!

  111. NMR says:

    One of the lines that continually gets repeated that I truly cannot grasp is that Hurdle has “changed the culture” within the team.

    The same team thats tanked as soon as the going got tough…twice? That team?

    The team on the field last night acted exactly like the team I’ve seen every September for the better part of two decades.

    WINNING changes the culture. It should be no shock that all those accolades were being thrown around when the club was succeeding.

    True leadership, true character shows through when the times are tough.

    Dejan said it himself. Hurdle is a beaten man. He’s desperate, and it’s shown through in his managing. That is NOT the way to handle adversity. Don’t think that doesn’t rub off on the team as well.

  112. PetroSteel says:

    I’ve seen Hurdle in action at Spring Training. I can’t imagine him ever being a beaten man. Has he changed the culture??? Absolutely…100%.

  113. Milo Hamilton says:

    NMR,

    I guess “changed the culture” means they just suck in a different way.

  114. Mike Shigley says:

    @103.

    Overslot money is overslot money. In 2009, they signed their first rounder for under slot and then spent well above slot for their pitchers.

  115. NMR says:

    @Milo

    “Changed the culture” is nothing more than saying he’s more likeable than the other guy, IMO. It’s a soft compliment that you can’t quantify, so it can’t be disputed.

    When I hear that said, it sounds to me like people are saying “yeah, this guy isn’t the greatest manager, loses you games, but he’s really really nice, so I still like him”. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    @Petro

    Have you seen Hurdle talk lately? I honestly feel bad for the man.

    Sorry, but I don’t care what he or “the culture” was like in Spring Training. I care about what has gone on for the last month. Nothing has changed.

  116. JoeBucco says:

    “You could overlook some of this if Greg Smith could draft well, or Neal Huntington actually evaluate major league talent…”

    That in a nutshell describes everything. There is a track record, and it isn’t good. That alone should be the reason they are replaced. It is a performance-based industry, and they’ve done a terrible job at both drafting and evaluating major league talent. They gotten a few right, but its more the old saying of a blind squirrel finding a nut every now and then. Not nearly enough to consider them skilled and talented.

  117. tdb1977 says:

    I know that I’ll try to catch as many games between now and the end of the season. I still will be there on the 28th to see the Reds game. I will still wear my Pirates cap with pride, even though this team has been a hugh disappointment since August. Its hard to talk about them right now without getting mad. I’ll get home from work today and put the game on. Hopefully, today’s effort will be different from the one we have witnessed the last several weeks.

    I don’t know how many people will say this, but I upgraded my package from this years 10 game pack to a 20 game pack next year. Always hoping that things will be different. But with the current FO in place, that might be hard to obtain since NH seems he can find legiment ML talent for this team.

  118. dcpfjr says:

    That muffled sound you hear in the background is “Taps”. It appears to be getting louder and clearer as the Pirates crash and burn their way to the final game of the season for the 2nd year in a row. Rhetorical question: What’s worse, 20 consecutive losing seasons or 2 straight years of having your hopes raised only to realize that nothing has really changed? Same old Pirates. Losers once again. If anyone thinks that this team has what it takes to finish above .500, I want to know what drug you’re on. It must be VERY hallucinogenic!!

  119. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Good mornig one and all….

    First, BVB, thanks for sharing. Awesome to have some inside, first-hand information.

    We all just think we know what we’re talking about.

    Second, The players, without a doubt, need to take ownership of this collapse. All the praise went to them whenever they were winning, emphasis needs to be placed on them when they are losing.

    I do feel that the development factor is a big issue. What happened when they started winning? Other teams took noticed, watched video and adjusted.

    Cutch was pitched differently, though he helped the opposing pitchers quit a bit as well by chasing and trying to pull the outside pitch.

    JMac-Just collapsed. I think early on he had some help from the opposition by chasing some bad pitches and they adjusted, started taking pitches, earned walks, or sat on mistakes.

    To me, those 2 players carried this team in June/July. They also lit the fire of the collapse also.

    No, I do not put 100% responsibility on Cutch and Jmac, but as they go, so does the team.

  120. RobertoForever says:

    I commented on yesterday’s post about the myth of getting guaranteeed ‘hits’ when drafting in the first four picks of the draft. Turns out there is only a 40% success rate in even getting a contributor at the major league level when drafting in one of the first 4 spots.

    And if you look at the Pirates 2008 draft compared to other teams, it is a glowing success. If 2009 turns out to have no impact player, than its still a 50% success rate in this FO’s first 2 drafts. Hardly an utter failure.

    Does anyone have comparison’s to other FO’s that shows that the Pirates FO is at the bottom of the list for the 2008-09 drafts? I would settle for 1 to start with.

  121. Arriba Wilver says:

    I agree with #100 AND #101. Pretty much sums up where I’m at (at least today).

    I wonder what the chances are Neal gets fired in October, but it isn’t announced till February? (I doubt he gets fired)

  122. Fat Jimmy says:

    Jandy, “lack of fundamentals” is a convenient crutch argument. The team had all of the same lacking fundamentals when it went 16 games over .500. Not to mention, many of the players on this team didn’t come up through the Pirates minor league system.

    In JoeBucco’s post above, he listed the top 10 reasons for the collapse. He missed a couple important ones, so I’ve edited his list below:

    This team collapsed because
    1. J-Mac
    2. A-Mac became mortal
    3. Bullpen forgot they were good.
    4. Walker’s injury and struggles
    5. Lack of any offense in the 7-8-9 spot all year
    6. Lack of depth
    7. Karstens injury
    8. Lack of veteran leadership outside of A.J.
    9. Midseason trades for offense provided nothing
    10. Horrendous baserunning mistakes

    DK: Speaking only for my own citing of the fundamentals, mine has been specifically targeted at the minor leagues, not the Pittsburgh team. The only references to the parent Pirates in this context have been to recently recalled prospects, plus Josh Harrison and Alex Presley.

  123. zellerau says:

    As a former Pirate employee and current coach, I used to call the front office to give them a heads up on players who were worth a look. The past regimes would take my call and in some instances do their due diligence. I tried twice over the past three years, once on a million dollar signee of theirs that in my estimation was a mistake for off field elements (he is still in the system but vastly underperforming) and another player who subsequently signed as a free agent with an organization regarded as having one of the top five farm systems. My sense is that they felt I had nothing to offer. That oversight may cost them over a million dollars in a bad investment and a missed opportunity. Hopefully the signee works out, but when someone proffers a scouting report for me at my level, my philosophy is that I may glean something of value no matter what the source.

  124. Jandy says:

    Thanks again for the input, everyone, on who is watching till the bitter end…

  125. 21sthebest says:

    I wonder if Cutch’s first half and second half numbers were reversed if people would say he struggled in the first half.

  126. Jandy says:

    Fat Jimmy, I stated the bulk of the reaction here to the Seals being called in. I also happen to pretty much agree with it. The fielding errors ane baserunning errors this team commits ALL TOO often is ridiculous. Even with key players having issues, if your team can play BASIC baseball, you’re still in the game. I can’t count the number of games we lost by a run or two because of these very issues.
    Again, just my opinion. And I also agree that there is more to this collapse than just “lack of fundamentals”.

  127. stuart66 says:

    Milo, I’m afraid we have blown out our flip-flop and then stepped on a pop-top bloodying more than our heel!
    Stuart.

  128. The Gunner says:

    If a new GM is hired, he’ll want his own manager & Hurdle will be history. Then we’ll be starting our 5th (?) 5 year plan.

    I hear Jim Leyland days are numbered in Detroit – maybe the timing is perfect for him to return to the Bucs and rebuild them at the age of 68!

    However things shake out, it doesn’t matter who the manager & GM are as they will be Bob Nutting’s puppets. It’ll be a new circus with a different bunch of clowns.

    P.S. – Leyland would never be stupid enough to walk into this situation!

  129. Matt says:

    Was saving up money all summer to travel over to the burgh and watch the Pirates in the playoffs. Found out my 13 yr old needed surgery. After reading BVB’s post, I would rather gove my money to the DR.’s anyway!

  130. JoeBucco says:

    Acountability:

    1. Stetson Allie (selected a bit before Drew Smyly)
    2. Mel Rojas (selected a bit before Addison Reed)
    3. Tony Sanchez (picked right ahead of Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Drew Storen, MIKE TROUT)
    4. Brooks Pounders (since traded away, but picked just before Billy Hamilton and Jason Kipnis)
    5. Nathan Baker (picked two spots before Brandon Belt)
    6. Pedro – potential is still there, but so was Buster Posey. Which would have meant we didn’t pick Sanchez the next year. Makes you wonder.
    7. Tanner Scheppers – unsigned 2nd round pick
    8. Jordy Mercer – just a bit ahead of Craig Kimbrel
    9. Chase d’Arnaud – just a bit ahead of Dee Gordon

    And those are only recent Top 5 round draft picks that we’ve whiffed on, and does not count this year or last.

  131. RobertoForever says:

    For those who will be watching the Pirates the rest of the season, the Pirates just promoted a new MLB app on their facebook page – Predict the Play. Seems like this app would have been more fun in July than now.

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=10151230241957931&set=a.498139097930.272413.34024907930&type=1&theater

  132. BFD says:

    Anytime a team has the never seen before level of futility the Nutting Pirates have seen, EVERYTHING is going to be second guessed and criticized….. as it should be.
    Shooting, Military training, etc are all fun things to do… in the offseason or in training camp. Not in the midst of a (percieved) playoff race when the team can barely put their jersey on correctly and tie their shoes.
    ——–
    For the poster mentioning what a crap shoot the draft is, that is EXACTLY why I’ve been asking why everyone is applauding this ridiculous notion that relying on the draft so heavily is a good one!

    XX

  133. JD says:

    Jandy – I’ll keep on watching. Hoping for 8 more wins.

    Looking for help from the blog. I’m in Vegas this weekend. Anyone know of a good Steelers bar to watch the game? Thanks!

  134. JoeBucco says:

    Sorry, lost the header to that last one. Just going through the first few rounds of the past few Huntington drafts. It’s easy to pay the what if game, especially with a guy like Mike Trout instead of Tony Sanchez, but there are a lot of whiffs in this really short list. Not to mention the late round gems that happen every now and then.

    I don’t know how you can own up to this list above and still feel you deserve a job.

  135. RobertoForever says:

    JoeBucco

    your post lost credibility when you started reaching on picks in the 3rd round and higher.

    You do realize that there were 17 MLB teams in that round, the 3rd round, that could have picked Craig Kimbrel and didn’t.

    Since the draft is a crap shoot and has a low success rate, its easy, and fake, to pick the best one or two picks from a round and then say the Pirates didn’t have the best one.

    Big note on Craig Kimbrel – the Braves picked in the second round, a LHP name Tyler Stovall. Who, you say. Exactly. A kid who had a 5.90 ERA this year – in the Independent league.

    Again, if you want to talk accountability, don’t cry foul that a FO was less than 100%, when the league average is 40% in the first 4 picks, and about 5% overall for the league average.

  136. JoeBucco says:

    FWIW – I have a team of 30 people working on a high pressure, high profile, high budget project right now. Very intenese, and while we all get along pretty well, everyone has their moments. A few weeks ago, when the team was all in town together, I took them to a place to play paintball, where we went and beat the heck out of each other. Had nothing to do with building e-commerce websites. And one guy took quite a shot right to his dome.

    If my project collapes and totally bombs, will everyone look back on that as the reason why we tanked?
    ;)

  137. Jandy says:

    Matt, hope all goes well/is well with the 13 year old’s surgery! That’s MUCH more important than baseball for sure.

    The Gunner, someone told me a few days ago that Leyland isn’t the manager he once was. So I really don’t think he’d be a good option.

  138. JoeBucco says:

    @Roberto – yep, I know. I didn’t like to dig that deep. It was just a high level ‘what if’ and more a reflection of the stiffs we’ve taken while also saying who else was out there. Not saying we would have or should have known Kimbrel would be a stud. But would have been nice to nail even one of these 10 mistakes.

  139. JoeBucco says:

    And I can’t count either. Looks like I listed 9 actually, not 10. :)

  140. Jandy says:

    JoeBucco, sounds like a great way to relieve pressure!

  141. NMR says:

    @JoeBucco

    Look at the team drafts as a whole instead of cherry picking the best players.

  142. JoeBucco says:

    @NMR – ok, fair enough. Ignore who was available and just look at who we picked.

  143. RobertoForever says:

    Mike Trout was drafted 25th in the 2009 1st round. Even the Angels didn’t think he was the best pick in that draft. The Angels drafted an outfielder, Randal Grichuk, who is a bust at the 24th pick. That’s right, Mike Trout was the 2nd best player at #24, according to the Angels.

    That also means that 24 teams whiffed that year. Wow, I wonder how MLB will deal with all of the GM’s fired after that has been revealed.

  144. RobertoForever says:

    @JoeBucco

    I appreciate the quick look. No malice intended. But it tends to push forward this meme about the MLB draft that if you don’t have a star when you draft in the first 4 that you are failing. The facts just don’t bear it out.

    I think P2 was right today. 2009 was a strategy that did not pan out. Settle for an easy signing, and then sign overslot guys. Some of them may still pan out, since they were HS’ers and would have just been finishing their JR year in college this past summer.

    But Overall 2008 was a huge success when compared to other drafts that year. 6 of the players that the Pirates drafted in 2008 have reached the majors, including Pedro. Pedro sure seems like an impact guy to me. MVP or All-star? Not yet, but a chance in the future. But a MLB starter for sure.

  145. JoeBucco says:

    @RF – Again, I know. And there were 4 others I listed there. Not saying anyone knew Trout was going to be the greatest player ever. But many felt Tony Sanchez was going to be a bust. And they were right. The guy only gets promoted to save face for the front office, even though he probably deserves to be in ‘A’ ball.

  146. RobertoForever says:

    @JoeBucco

    Btw, agree with #137. Hardly a blip. Hope the dome-shot guy is ok ;)

  147. NMR says:

    @Joe

    I’m not denying the quality of who was picked. I’m comparing that to what the other 29 men in the world did with their drafts.

    IMO, you cannot do a singular evaluation of a given GM’s draft. There has to be a baseline to comparison.

    Take the 2008 draft and come up with five other team who have unquestionably produced more impact MLB players than the Pirates. I’m not saying they don’t exist, I just can’t find them.

  148. nate83 says:

    Please, please, please stop listing draft failures. It really hurts my head. Every team has many many many more draft failures then hits. It’s baseball. It’s how it works. You look at any years list of first and second round picks from the 90′s and early 2000′s and it is littered with guys you have never heard of. Every GM in the league would be fired based on missing on 5 out of 10 high draft picks.

  149. The Gunner says:

    @ Jandy – 138

    Jandy – at this point in his life, Leyland doesn’t need the aggravation of working for a skinflint like Nutting. It would be awful watching the nightly sports news and seeing a 68 year old man sobbing almost every night.

    If ownership gave Clint some talent, he’d be successful just like Leyland was when he was here. But, that hasn’t happened. Now it is looking like Clint will be lumped together with the likes of John Russell, Jim Tracy, Lloyd McClendon, & Gene Lamont.

    He certainly deserved a better fate.

  150. Jandy says:

    Dejan says he can’t see the NHL lockout lasting beyond October.If it goes into November, I wonder if he’ll give up Starbucks for a week for jinxing it???

  151. Jandy says:

    Gunner, I tend to agree!

  152. LuckyNKentucky says:

    nate,

    I’m with you on that. Wonder what the Cardinals success rate is from the draft? Talent evaluation is and always has been the key and we suck at it. They don’t. Look at that lineup from year to year and they go out and get who they need that they don’t have stockpiled. Vast difference in quality of work.

  153. Reading says:

    By way of comparison, the Steelers draft in 1974 might qualify as good (4 HOFers, I believe).

  154. Fat Jimmy says:

    Yeah, the 2009 draft was just very weak. Not many first rounders have amounted to much of consequence or project to, either. Sanchez sucks, but that was just a bad year period.

  155. What Happened? says:

    Slick #30…What was with the Cutch / Snider conversation at the end of the game in the dugout?

    That was WEIRD and cameras captured “something” there…Dejan / insiders: ask the question in the clubhouse today and report back!

  156. nate83 says:

    Somebody quick put together a list for me that shows all the players we have picked up the last five years by trade or free agency that were all-stars previuosly. It should be a short list. I may have missed one but the list seems to be Burnett, Bedard and Wandy.

    There is a reason for that. Good players get paid more then 4 million a year. Burnett and Wandy have been very good and I’m OK with taking a chance on Bedard to rebound. The problem is and always will be money spent on the Major League Baseball Team. Unless Nutting fires himself nothing will change.

    It’s easy math

    More Money = Better Players

    Better Players = Better Team

  157. JoeBucco says:

    ok, how about I just go with this then.

    From the 2010 draft, we’ve not had a single player make the majors yet.

    Not one.

    Not that it is much of a history yet, but the 2011 and 2012 drafts also have not netted a single major league appearance.

    From the 2009 draft, we’ve had 55 at bats – 0 home runs and 3 RBI. All of these at bats belong to Brock Holt, our 9th rounder that year.

    So essentially nothing from the last 4 drafts yet.

    2008?

    From players not names Pedro Alvarez, we have 1 HR and 17 RBI total from that draft class. Jordy has the homer, to go with his .196 career batting average, and 4 of the RBI’s. The rest go to Chase d’Arnaud (4) and Matt Hague (7). We also have 3 strikeouts by the one pitcher – ONE PITCHER – in the past 5 draft classes to pitch for the Pirates. Justin Wilson.

    So get this…

    In Neal Huntington’s CAREER as Pirates GM, he has drafted:

    ZERO pitchers to ever win a game for this franchise. No wins, no losses, no saves – just 3 strikeouts.

    Pedro Alvarez

    Plus 1 Home Run, 17 RBI, and no hitter with so much as a .240 career batting average.

    Yet, we set so many spending records on those drafts that MLB had to change to rules to keep things fair.

    Wow.

  158. JoeBucco says:

    Correction, 20 RBI’s total, drafted by Huntington in his career from players other than Pedro. I forgot to add in Brock Holt’s 3.

  159. NMR says:

    Joe, answer this…

    You obviously manage people. Would you grade your current employees without taking into account what production can be expected from others?

  160. JoeBucco says:

    Sure, of course. But what we’re seeing here is zero production. Even from the much ballyhooed 2008 draft, where anyone – anyone – in that job would have taken Pedro.

    Aside from Pedro, we’ve gotten close to literally nothing from the draft and develop phase of “the plan”. Flooding the system with talent is one thing. But eventually some of those guys need to get to Pittsburgh and help there.

    And I’m not discounting the Taillon’s and Cole’s of the world, I believe they will help. But so far, what has Huntington done to show even a glimmer of hope that he knows what he is doing?

  161. nate83 says:

    My head just exploded. Literally all over the place. I can’t take it anymore. 3 out of 4 high draft picks are bust. The normal progression for anybody not drafted in the early rounds is 1 year at each level. That is 4 years. You can really only judge 2008 which was as good as any team and 2009 which is bad, but it was for a lot of teams.

  162. zellerau says:

    My post was not intended to address any draft failure per se, but to illustrate a new culture whereby no one outside of the player development department can add to their base of knowledge or is not qualified to do so. This was to further illustrate BVB’s insights and that my experiences with the new regime are indicative of a philosophical or cultural change within the front office.

  163. Fat Jimmy says:

    Somebody quick put together a list for me that shows all the players we have picked up the last five years by trade or free agency that were all-stars previuosly. … The problem is and always will be money spent on the Major League Baseball Team. Unless Nutting fires himself nothing will change.

    It’s easy math

    More Money = Better Players

    Better Players = Better Team

    *************************

    Hey, if guys that used to be All Stars and get paid a lot of money are your qualifications for great pick ups, then I’m certain the Dodgers have more than a few guys they’d be happy to offload … I mean, trade.

    Let’s get over the money = success meme.

  164. Milo Hamilton says:

    Roberto,

    On Trout, when you have back to back picks, you always draft the more valuable player 2nd. Saves $$.

  165. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate–small point, but I don’t think AJ has ever been an all star. That’s one reason I was hoping he made it this year.

  166. NMR says:

    “But what we’re seeing here is zero production. Even from the much ballyhooed 2008 draft, where anyone – anyone – in that job would have taken Pedro.”

    In your first two sentences, you contradicted yourself by saying NH has gotten zero production, contradicted yourself by saying “anyone” would’ve picked Pedro when you previously said Posey should’ve been the choice, and completely ignored the fact that history proves it is far from a lock to get a star in the first few picks.

    This conversation will not get us anywhere.

  167. radio wave says:

    Seems like many of the problems noted are based on conditioning.

  168. nate83 says:

    zellerau, BVB

    I loved both your post. It is great information and insight that I appreciate. It sounds like current front office could do themselves a favor and not be so closed minded. Thanks for sharing.

  169. NMR says:

    Dejan repeatedly has criticized Huntington for not acquiring both more depth and more impact offense at the trade deadline and has denied it had anything to do with money, citing Bob Nutting authorizing the Rodriguez trade.

    I can only imagine this means he feels Huntington should’ve not traded for Wandy and instead used that money on hitting.

    Seems odd for a guy who has written “It’s all about the pitching…always.”

  170. Milo Hamilton says:

    NMR,

    The fact that Nutting even had to be asked to stretch the budget in the Rodriguez matter is troubling. Not exactly a high ticket acquisition.

  171. nate83 says:

    Fat Jimmy

    I don’t disagree that the money has to be used correctly. I was just pointing out that when picking up players that make more money NH has done a decent job. It should be noted the Pirates didn’t take on much of those contracts and that is the only reason they had been green lighted by Nutting.

    You got to at least have the money to spend. NH has not been given that money. Trade for Pence is what I kept hearing at the trade deadline. Was that even an option for NH. I’m guessing no because of Pence’s salary. That is not on him but instead on Nutting.

  172. Mike A. says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why we started a pitcher with 7 ML relief appearances, while leaving (perhaps) our most consistent starter when healthy in the bullpen until the 6th inning. Does a team with hopes of a playoff spot (no matter how slim) use a key mid-September game to get a look at a prospective starting pitcher? Especially with an admittedly now-healthy veteran ready to go to the mound? I just get the impression NH made that call….either that or CH is panicking more than even I had imagined…

  173. NMR says:

    @Milo

    That’s what I mean.

    I truly do not understand how Dejan can openly question whether Huntington even had the chance to trade for Headley, yet still criticize him for not doing it.

    I truly do not understand how he can openly question whether or not money was a factor in aquiring Headley, yet claim the Rodriguez trade is proof the Huntington wasn’t handcuffed by the budget.

    I don’t see how that is fair or objective analysis.

    DK: I have a feeling there’s a little too much parsing of the stuff I’m writing, NMR. Plain and simple, I raised the Headley thing in the EVENT that Wandy tapped out the reserves. I felt raising that was fair to the GM.

  174. Jandy says:

    Nate: “My head just exploded. Literally all over the place. ”
    Ewwwww..clean it up! :p

  175. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    “DK: Speaking only for my own citing of the fundamentals, mine has been specifically targeted at the minor leagues, not the Pittsburgh team. The only references to the parent Pirates in this context have been to recently recalled prospects, plus Josh Harrison and Alex Presley.”

    Fundamentals should not be an issue by the team these players reach the bigs. That is EXACTLY what the minor leagues are for. To teach these kids the right way, fundamentally and to prepare them for the show.

  176. nate83 says:

    NMR

    I would add that the authorization for the Wandy trade was minimal cost wise compared to what Hunter Pence would have cost or another big bat. The way they are playing now proves that it would have been a wasted trade and we would be without one of our big 5 prospects. No one or two bats would have made this team good enough to compete with Washington or the Reds. What would a bat add 2 maybe 3 wins over 50 games and less money to sign Walker and Hanrahan.

  177. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    So interesting to see posters like the Fat Jimmy scrambling to cover their recent ridiculous statements in favor of the Nutting Regime.
    How quick you are fooled….And how quick you try to cover for yourself.
    The Nutting Regime got you…..Again.

    DK: Take that, you Nutting lovers! Ha!

  178. JoeBucco says:

    @NMR – the Posey suggestion was pure hindsight.

    And any trained Gorilla would have picked Pedro at #2, so I hesitate to give his credit there.

    What else did he draft?

    Nothing.

    Heck, Littlefield’s last draft gave us Tony Watson and Kyle McPherson. I’d settle for that much in rounds 2-50.

  179. JoeBucco says:

    not sure why I capitalized gorilla in that last post. :)

  180. Milo Hamilton says:

    NMR,

    And then Huntington doubles down on the inanity by telling the world he had to get permission to stretch the payroll to $55 million. Thanking Nutting publicly like it was something to be proud of. Why would any self respecting GM waste their time talking trade with the Pirates for someone that’s going to cost real money ?

  181. Thundercrack says:

    I remember hearing people and columnist say “Bring up Marte, what else does he have to prove” “Bring Presley back up, he’s seems to have figured it out”

    The FO hesitated on some of those players (including Pedro)

    And now some of those same people are complaining about the fundamentals taught in the minors.

    DK: Yes. Because they should be learning how to bunt at the Triple-A level. Gotcha.

  182. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @TC

    For the record…..I am not one of those people that was calling for AP. Still don’t want him up here.

  183. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Should already know how to bunt, run bases, hit a cut off man by the time they reach AAA.

    AAA is the cusp of MLB, obviously. That should be used to get these players closer to the show with tougher competition.

  184. pattonbb says:

    @Thundercrack – Who is crazy enough to think fundementals are introduced to players at AAA? The deficiencies in this organization begin at A and AA. Nobody is learning fundamentals in Indianapolis.

  185. Arriba Wilver says:

    JB@181 “not sure why I capitalized gorilla in that last post.”. Out of respect? :-)

  186. Thundercrack says:

    DK: Yes. Because they should be learning how to bunt at the Triple-A level. Gotcha.

    I agree. Who is disputing that they shouldn’t learn that? But it is easy for us to sit here and say this guy should be brought up and that guy should be brought up, and criticize the FO when they don’t do it as fast as we would like. My point was maybe they do know that the player isn’t quite ready or has areas of their game that they need to work on. And in some of those cases they came out and told fans what those players needed to work on.

    Now I wonder who is ready to be promoted based upon running the obstacle course and climbing the knotted rope.

  187. Milo Hamilton says:

    patton,

    Doesn’t look like they’re learning them at Bradenton or Altoona either.

  188. nate83 says:

    Milo, Patton

    I agree completely. Lack of fundamentals and development of the players in the minors is the biggest weakness in the organization currently. I know that directly points to Stark and because he was hired by NH it points at him as well.

    Sometimes a head coach is told to fire his defensive coordinator and sometimes they just replace the entire staff. It will be interesting to see what Nutting does this off season. I definately want to see Stark replaced but if NH goes for this reason as well I wouldn’t cry foul.

  189. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think everybody’s forgetting an important point. They do make the minor leaguers wear their pants right.

  190. pattonbb says:

    nate83 – I’m with you. I think Stark is gone, and probably Huntington. Somebody, maybe Milo, mentioned they were waiting for the dreaded “vote of confidence” to be released from FC or Nutting. Might be telling that it hasn’t been given.

  191. Fat Jimmy says:

    Nate, I have not seen anything to suggest that the Pirates were financially handcuffed from making trades. In fact, most of the reports I read suggested that the Pirates were doing their best to try and TAKE ON salary as opposed to giving up talent, which is what the other teams wanted.

    Passing on Pence and Headley, by all accounts, was more about the prospects being demanded by the other side rather than money.

    Not saying it about you, but there is this group of people who believe there are these magical fairy free agents whom the Pirates are passing over each year because the owner is too cheap to sign them. Truth is, there are 2-4 mega elite guys in a free agent class that 24 teams don’t have a chance in signing, and then a bunch of other guys who will demand big salaries for minimal production. These guys aren’t going to change the direction of the franchse.

    That’s why we have to get past the money thing. When (if) the day comes when the Pirates have a ton of talented players entering free agency and arbitration, Bob Nutting will be put on the spot to keep much of that talent in town. Until then, he’s not a part of this conversation.

    DK: Yes, exactly. One issue I noticed NOBODY has raised here as it relates to stretching or extending payroll is that Huntington already flushed away $15.25 million of what he WAS allotted.

  192. nate83 says:

    DK

    If picking up Wandy tapped out the reserves and we only took on a portion of his remaining salary. What prospects would we have had to give up to get a legit differance making bat to avoid overtapping that reserve.

    It’s fair to say he didn’t do anything at the trade deadline but it’s also fair to ask if he was allowed too. He is playing with somebody elses money. It’s also fair to ask Nutting when is the time right because it’s starting to feel like never.

  193. cmat0829 says:

    My two cents (because we don’t have ENOUGH opinions on this blog!)

    This is quite the rubik’s cube in terms of lining up all the reasons/contributors to the Pirates current position in the standings…. I think “collapse” is a bit hyperbolic in that it doesn’t allow for the “levelling effect” that is part of the MLB season… I think Clint summarizes that often that it is “a 162 game season for a reason”. Blame goes all around, no doubt. Nutting is way,way better as an owner than the “pirates-owner stereotype” he has been branded with. That said, payroll needs to go higher (not that I have any evidence he isn’t supportive of that). FC is good on the business side I suppose but probably needs to just leave the field stuff to the GM. Neal has grown as a GM but maybe he just doesn’t have the “tools” to perform at the level required. Personally, I think this is somewhat a “grass is greener” condundrum but he probably should go just for the minor league program/development approach, etc.

    Clint has his faults in game strategy but let’s not fool ourselves that a tweak here or a move there was going to singlehandedly turns Ls into Ws.

    The players just aren’t good enough collectively. Is it because they haven’t been instructed the right way? Maybe. Is it because their conditioning is less than optimal? Sure. Is it because they are young and need to learn how to adapt? Definitely. And is it because some of them have peaked with their skills/abilities and “are what they are”? True that.

    But let’s give up this “culture” crap. DK would know better than me but I’m SURE there has been tons of turnover from last year’s team on the 25 and 40 man roster. And if we went back 2/3 years, it is likely >75% turnover. We have a new manager, new coaches, etc. Even the FO is 5 years old only. So the “streak” is the least relevant reference anybody makes in terms of actual impact on performance… it only matters for those of us die hard enough to have been actually ROOTING for a different outcome all those 20 years.

    To get a better result in 2013? Sure, you can change the GM but the real change that needs to happen is on the field. Time to “cut and run” with a lot of the pablum that is AAAA and go from there.

  194. nate83 says:

    Jimmy

    There are guys like Furcal, Zimmerman and Cuddyer that are 10-14 million a year that are proven players that probably 26 owners would allow their GM’s to go after. Ours can’t. It is proven by Barmes being the largest free agent signing under Huntington money wise. That is sad and Nutting should be embarresed by that.

    Yes last off season he was allowed to go after Edwin Jackson and that was a step in the right direction but that was the first time I have ever heard of him being able to go after someone like that in 5 years and I’m sure 10 million was the limit. 8 digit numbers scare Nutting.

  195. Jandy says:

    AW, but NOT their hats ;)

  196. NMR says:

    @Milo re: 183 – Head>wall>repeat.

  197. Thundercrack says:

    A few years ago this FO didn’t announce contract extensions given to the GM and manager. So I am not really holding my breath for the ‘vote of confidence’ to be released

  198. nate83 says:

    I forgot to mention 6 years with a payroll below 60 million is all the evidence I need that they are handcuffed. What GM is told he can spend 90 million and says that’s OK I think I can get it done with 55 million. Go ahead and pocket that other 35 million and I will take all the blame when this house of cards comes crumbling down.

  199. Arriba Wilver says:

    I am not part of the Nutting is cheap crowd (or the we shoulda gotten Pence crowd), but factually, last year Neal said that even aside from the prospects, what Pence would have gotten in arb was one of the reasons they did not go for him. He even mentioned a figure, something like $13-15,000,000. So I think you’re overstating your case, Jimmy. It IS part of the conversation. Maybe not controlling, but definitely part of the conversation.

  200. JoeBucco says:

    game thread is up

  201. Jandy says:

    OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0<

  202. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    DK: Take that, you Nutting lovers! Ha!

    ———-
    DK – Just to let you know….I always hope to be wrong about the Nutting Regime.

    However…..it doesn’t look like that is possible on their end.

    DK: I respect that position, Daq, as well as your right to feel however you want about the guy. It’s the third-grade taunts that I find ridiculous.

  203. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    According to pirates.com, Sid Bream is the reason the season collapsed. We were all soooooo wrong!

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120919&content_id=38656970&notebook_id=38657074&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

  204. Fat Jimmy says:

    Nate, for what it’s worth, the 8 figure contracts scare me too.

    Don’t lose sight of that point, either. Could Michael Cuddyar have helped this team this year? Absolutely. Would anyone have felt before the year that the Pirates without Cuddyar (projected to win ~78 games) would have been a playoff team (~90 wins) with him? Surely no one things any three of those guys would have been a 12 win improvement.

    Conversely, you start tossing around 4 year deals for some guy that isn’t going to put you into the playoffs, and that limits your ability to sign a free agent when the time comes that you need one. Look, given the success of this year, I fully expect the organization to be more aggressive on the FA front. If the Pirates sit back and don’t make a move for a veteran SP, re-up GFJ and generally increase the payroll, then that will be a black mark on the owner.

    But I saw no point in signing a mid-tier free agent to a huge deal before this season.

  205. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    DK – My taunt is in regard to a number of taunts in my direction a few weeks ago.
    Some flip flop on Nutting…..I don’t.
    But you most certainly have a point.

  206. Hoovc says:

    Great post by BVB. I wish it could gain more attention on the radio talk shows and on twitter and other social media outlets.

    The problem is the owner. He simply does not have the pockets to be a MLB owner. It does not make him a bad person, but he needs to stop holding this city hostage. This town wants a winner and Nutting can’t deliver that. His lack of spending results in mediocre GMs, mediocre player development personnel, and horrendous players. We need an owner that is willing to pay the cash required to get actual baseball people in the organization that have won World Series and built winning teams. Make these people offers they can’t refuse. Brian Sabean, Theo Epstein, Walt Jockety, and Dave Dombrowski come to mind. None would come cheap, but a real MLB owner would do what it takes to win. Enough is enough Bob Nutting. This town wants you to move on. Sell the team.

  207. BarryVanBonilla says:

    Hoov, I think he can afford a good GM. My sense is that he is slowly but surely accumulating enough understanding of baseball to be able to make independent judgments about the way in which the franchise is being managed. His pockets may not be as deep as many of his counterparts’ but then he has given over tens of millions of dollars, and much of it has been flushed down the drain. We like to talk about Matt Morris, but that was a fraction of what hs been wasted by Neal Huntington. I would venture that when Huntington interviews his next head of baseball operations, he will want some demobstrable evidence based on past experience that the individual knows on whom he should be spending finite resources. That investment would pay for itself many times over.

  208. BarryVanBonilla says:

    Sorry, forgot to say thanks for the kind words.

 
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