Big Lead Sports Bar

7/31/2007

Good Thing We Didn't Draft Wieters

It's 11:14 on Tuesday, July 31, 2007, and the Pirates Universe seems to make less sense than ever. And considering where this franchise has been, that's saying something. Where should I start - on the field or off? Let's go with...on the field.
The Buccos dropped yet another one tonight, this one by a 6-4 count to the Cardinals. 24,085 were bribed into the park by a free Roberto Clemente coin and were treated to the Pirates' 14th loss in their past 16.
The lowlight of the game, and possibly the season, was Ronny Paulino's sixth inning, when he managed to make two colossal errors in the same at-bat. If one opponent's at-bat had ever been more symbolic of another team's entire season, it was this one. Paulino misplayed a routine popup by Ryan Ludwick, extending the at-bat. Naturally, the mistake would come back to haunt the Pirates, as Ludwick ultimately parlayed the extended AB into a double. And during the double, Scott Rolen, by all accounts a dead man walking, was safe at home after Paulino dropped the relay throw from Jack Wilson.
How was this symbolic? First, the mere presence of Paulino in the lineup speaks volumes about the organization. He's had a grand total of one quasi-productive season in the big leagues, but is treated with the respect of a vested veteran. His batting average has fallen 73 points from last season (.310 to .237). His OBP has dropped from .360 to .283 (77 points). He's on pace for 162-game totals of 10 HR and 52 RBI. His defense has been horrendous. His effort appears to be virtually non-existent. He's misplayed numerous throws to home plate. And now, he's botching routine pop-ups. Paulino's been so bad, he makes me long for the days of Keith Osik. But he's in the lineup again and again, when all signs indicate that he should start planning a second career. I call it John Van Benschoten Syndrome. I guess Paulino's unbenchable. For his sake, I'm glad he doesn't play for the Steelers. Mike Tomlin would skewer him everyday in The News.
What's ironic is that the Pirates passed on Matt Wieters, also known as Johnny Bench 2.0, in this year's draft. I posted this a few months ago, but let's revisit Wieters, as described glowingly by Minorleagueball.com's John Sickels:
Wieters was expected to be the top college position player in the draft this year, and I think he's lived up to that. He was pitched around a bit for Georgia Tech, and seemed to be pressing early in the year, getting off to a somewhat slow start. But he heated up as the season progressed, and his numbers still came out strong: .358/.480/.592, with 10 homers and 51 walks. He has switch-hitting pop and excellent strike zone judgment; I don't have doubts about his bat.
That's right: a .358/.480/.592 switch hiter with power and a good eye. But he cost too much. $10 million was the reported asking price for his signing bonus. Why pay up when we could sign Danny Moskos for a mere $2.475 million? That's a difference of about $7.525 million that the Pirates were unwilling to spend.
Or were they unwilling to spend? I guess that's why Tuesday's trade deadline has everyone so confused. The Pirates traded OF Rajai Davis to the Giants for pitcher Matt Morris. Morris is 7-7 with a 4.35 ERA. The Pirates will pay the balance of his $10 million contract this year, and they're also on the hook for $9.5 million next season, plus a $2 million payment at the end of the season. To me, that looks like money that could've been spent on Wieters.
As expected, people are lining up to take shots at the Pirates. ESPN.com's Keith Law described the Morris trade like this:
Another year, another bizarre acquisition by the Pirates. But while last year's move to get Shawn Chacon was puzzling, acquiring Matt Morris is inexcusable. The last thing the Pirates need is another starter who gives up more than a hit an inning, but they got one in Morris.

And then there's Bob Smizik's "Littlefield reveals his desperation" article. Some of my favorite lines:

With the acquisition yesterday of starting pitcher Matt Morris from the San Francisco Giants, the Pirates told the world they are willing to spend big-time money. Even if it's on the wrong player...

...In his past eight starts, he [Morris] has pitched 45 1/3 innings and allowed 80 hits while compiling an ERA of 7.94...

...It again brings into question, as have so many other moves in the past, whether anyone in the Pirates' organization knows what they're doing.

Maybe Dave Littlefield knows something that we don't, but for some reason I doubt it. I was perplexed by the Izturis trade, and I'm even more lost after the Morris trade. This is an organization that's ready to begin a new, McClatchy-free era in the near future, but the same old drivers are asleep at the general managing wheel during another trade deadline. How do you explain Tuesday? Is Littlefield trying to get some help to win some games and save his job? Are the Pirates simply spending some money just to make it look like they're not pocketing all that revenue-sharing cash? Is there a reason why the Pirates could find no suitable trading partners for chips like Torres, Chacon, Marte, and Wilson?
I don't have the answers, probably because there are no answers. But don't worry, my friends. Only 58 more to go. And with the Pirates sitting at 42-62, that puts their magic number at 21, as in "the Pirates need to win 21 to finish 63-99 and not lose 100".
Suggested reading:
and from the vault:
The Ticket Scalper Who Sells After Kickoff [Mondesi's House 2006 Pirates Deadline Wrapup]

20 comments:

Dennis said...

Steelers camp has started, Pitt football starts in 7 days...Pirates season is over to me. I'm not returning to PNC Park this year.

Dirty Sanchez said...

Pittsburgh has a baseball team?

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

WOW! This trade defies logic. If they do indeed have a little money to spend then Littlefield is even dumber thatn I give him credit for. He must be like that one guy in your fantasy football league that you can count on being in the bottom half every year.

AJ said...

Why is it that every man, woman, and child who has ever attended a MLB game knows this was a horrible move, except the ones who work in the Pirates front office?

I'm with you... I call shenanigans. This is some sort of conspiracy to cover up the revenue sharing funds.

Either that, or the marketing staff got a really good deal on some leftover Matt Morris bobbleheads.

Free Pacman said...

If the Pirates season is over when Steelers training camp start, does that mean the Pirates are in the post-season right now?

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Pacman, I view this part of the Pirates season as another spring training.

The games don't mean anything, and if you go to the game you don't care who wins anymore, as long as you have a decent time (and by "decent time" I mean sitting in the stands, getting drunk, and discussing the Steelers).

John said...

I have to say this is the most strongly I have ever felt about giving up on this team forever. I am starting to consider buying a D-Rays shirt and saying fuck it to this whole organization. At least Tampa Bay is trying!

John said...

*Strongest

I am not actually illiterate just in an angry rant gone wrong

Talkin_Proud said...

My initial reaction to the media's confusion/disgust about this Morris trade was, "So what!?" Because, y'know, this is the type of the thing the Bucs do every year. Dejan's article nailed it home with the remark that Morris is the highest paid Pirate EVER.

I don't know anymore. I chuckled at Morris ripping his San Fran mates but wondered why I have never heard similar stories from ex-Pirates?

Lastly, living in Buffalo I've had the displeasure of witnessing the fabulous AAA Indianapolis Indians in person. Those guys are DUDS. Not even a glimmer of hope for the future.

Bruce said...

What is the over/under on the loss column now that JT's boys have gone out with an impressive post All Star game streak? Is 100 losses a possibility?

Perhaps Littlefield is trying to get fired.

J. Mark English said...

How do you guys feel about Barry Bonds. I mean you must miss him since you haven't had a winning team since when he left...

http://www.americanlegends.blogspot.com/

Brad said...

We Will...encourage our fanbase to bail on the franchise.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Holy crap? Was j. mark english a troll here making fun of the Pirates on Mondesis House?

I thought Adam was the only troll we had here!

And if he is a troll that took time out of his day to rip on the Pirates, I wonder if he also takes time out of his day to kick homeless people... which is roughly the equivalent of making fun of the Pirates.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Giving full credit to NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell....

"I am sadenned and embarressed for the Pittsburgh Pirates."

And to quote the wierd Scottish girl from "Caddyshack,"....

TANKS FOR MCNUTTIN'!

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Also:

J. Mark...

Enoguht with the whole first intial-middle name thing. Any more, that just means you're pretentious or soft. Or both.

Plus, I live in NYC. And I have it on good knowledge that Mr. Met bats from both sides of the plate.

No, we can't see where his hand is in that photo, can we?

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

J. Mark = Bridge & Tunnel.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Cecil = drunk.


(THE POLICE at The Garden)

boredinpittsburgh said...

Matt Morris will stay the highest paid Pirate for a long time.

If a player were to garner an annual 9 million dollar salary, why would he sign with the Pirates as a FA?

--

Did anyone else see this little blurb from the PG?

"How close was the deal to being done?

One source intimately familiar with the matter said that a deal was virtually done Tuesday and that the Pirates would receive two of Detroit's top six prospects, including an unnamed pitcher ready to join the major-league staff. But the sides haggled on how much of Wilson's contract the Pirates would pick up, the source added, and the delay was on."

Two top prospects for Jack Wilson, maybe DL isn't the worst GM ever? Oh wait, the deal didnt get done in time...

Percey Fever said...

Again, you people need to climb out of the steeler's butt. I can't wait till you guys are crying about getting your asses handed to you by AFC favorites Ravens, Bengals, Patriots, Colts, and Chargers. And the Browns, Jets, and Dolphins will finish better too.
And you might want to wait a couple days after a guy has a bad game. (Paulino has 2 homeruns, 6 rbi's since)
How was the Chacon deal puzzling?? We got a good bullpen pitcher and we finally got rid of Craig Wilson. Anybody know where Craig Wilson is? Anybody? Released by New York, released by Atlanta, currently lost. Meanwhile Chacon has proved himself to be a vital bullpen pitcher.
Matt Morris is 32 years old, so he's still young enough. He gives the pitching staff a veteran presence. And best of all, it proves Nutting is actually not afraid to spend a little bit of money for once. If we signed Morris in the offseason for 12 mil, everyone would applaud the pirates for bringing in a proven right hander. Instead, we trade away Rajai Davis, who is not promising anymore at age 27. With McCutcheon improving, there's no room for him anyway.
Yes the season is a bust, and yes the whole front office should be wiped out. I'm not denying that. But quit acting like acquiring a former cy young canidate (2 seasons ago) is the end of the world.

Dirty Sanchez said...

Are you retarded?? Who would applaud the Pirates for signing washed up Matt Morris for one year at $12 million? The Pirates don't need a veteran presence, they need pitchers that can pitch effectively, hitters that can hit a baseball (or God forbid, maybe even draw a walk), and fielders that can catch and not throw like little girls.

And a great veteran presence Morris must be, seeing as how he called out his entire team in public. Wait until he pitches to Paulino a few times and sees half of his pitches skip to the backstop because lardass can't catch.

As for the Browns, they will finish better than what? Better than the Steelers, or merely better than the sorry ass team they fielded last year (and the 6 seasons before that)?