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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Upgraded farm system?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Friday column tells the real story of the Pirates’ front office status, not the one those individual have tried to paint themselves.

And it’s not me telling it. It’s Bob Nutting, in an exclusive interview.

>> The most common defense of Neal Huntington’s tenure as GM is that the farm system has been greatly upgraded.

I can reach up above my desk here — give me a sec — and pull down a copy of the Pirates’ 2008 media guide. Inside are all the names and stats of the players who were in the system in 2007, Dave Littlefield’s last year as GM.

Here are a few: Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Nyjer Morgan, Brad Lincoln, Sean Burnett, Steve Pearce, Ronald Belisario, Alex Presley, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Kyle McPherson, Duke Welker and Rudy Owens.

Now, that system had all kinds of other problems, notably filling out rosters with older players, prioritizing winning over development at times and an egregious absence in Latin America. And no, it wasn’t nearly deep enough.

But look at that list again.

Then, look at the upper crust of the current system.

Where is this dramatic upgrade?

I’ll say this again: A minor-league system isn’t about winning Baseball America awards as the players move along. It’s about developing major-league talent.

>> The Pirates are at 80 losses. That pegs 82 to happen at some point over the coming weekend against the mighty Reds, who have made clear they’re going to take the games in Pittsburgh very seriously, so get those tickets for history early.

Oh, and if you’re in New York, PLEASE snap this pic this year in Times Square…

>> This is cool. I’ll keep repeating it, but this NHL lockout will not last long. Makes no sense. Has none of the dynamics of 2004.

>> Watched Ravens-Browns last night mostly to see how that ace team of real refs did compared to what we’d been watching. And you know, those guys are good.

A lot better than Cleveland’s butterfinger wide receivers, anyway.

>> Speaking of Littlefield, here’s the chat transcript from yesterday.

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