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If you needed another example of why Pittsburghers are frustrated with Major League Baseball, take a look at this year's free agent moves and you'll see why. The New York Yankees just got done dropping $243.5 million on C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, adding the two initialed pitchers to a team that features Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, among others.

But back in the world of reality, the Pirates, having already lost out on such free agent cornerstones like Mark Loretta, settled for utility infielder Ramon Vazquez, who was found lurking in the $4 million MLB bargain bin.

The 32-year-old Vazquez hit .290 for the Texas Rangers last season, but that pales in comparison to the exquisite mustache that he sports, instantly challenging Dave Wannstedt for the best 'stache in the city.

This is Vazquez's sixth team since entering the league in 2001, which isn't all that encouraging. But I presume he's good value for his role as a Ramon-of-all-trades, especially if some team takes Jack Wilson off the Pirates' hands, which is looking less likely with each passing day.

In other news of the Bucco variety, the Pirates were active in the Rule 5 draft, picking up LHP Donald Veal from the Cubs and losing LHP Kyle Bloom for the Tigers.

So that means we leave the Winter Meetings with Donald Veal and Ramon Vazquez. They're not quite C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, but I guess that's the best we could do. As Jason Kendall would say, "Welcome to Hell".

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Anonymous said...

I hear you, Mondesi, but let's be clear: the Pirates are more responsible for their problems than anyone else at this point.

10 years ago, it was solely the fault of the system that the Buccos couldn't comptete. However, in the world of generous revenue sharing, and having seen other small market club make the playoffs of late, the Buccos can only look in the mirror to place blame.

That said, what the Yankees did this week was ridiculous and shines a light on the fact that the system is still broken. If it's any consolation, they won't win the Series next year. Hey, they may not even make the playoffs. And it will be hilarious when it happens!

Any news from the Rinku & Dinesh camp?

RedHawks Hockey said...

I don't know if the yanks won't win the series. When Chen meng wang will be your third pitcher and petitte could be your 4/5 guy with kennedy/hughes, it will be tough for them not to win every game with the starting pitching. Not to mention joba and mo in the pen.

Nate said...

The Pirates did the right thing by not going after pitchers like Sabathia. This organization is in a horrible state and needs to build from the ground up, something that Huntington has shown he's willing to do.

Last year and the year before, our go-to guy for pitching depth was John Van Benschoten, and our only good prospect was Andrew McCutchen in a top prospects list included Neil Walker and Brian Bixler. Baseball Prospectus called us a "pitiful system."

Now we have several competent pitching options and our top prospects list includes Andy LaRoche, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen. It's not the Rays system, but it's a damn good start, and you have to start somewhere. You'll note that the Rays got good by building from the ground up, not splurging in the free agent market, and because of that, they'll likely be good for several years to come.

Honestly, if we went after Sabathia, I would be angry, because it would signal that Huntington has adopted the Dave Littlefield attitude of "screw the future, screw the playoffs, just for the love of god win 82 games."

BIGG...F..F..FFFFANNN said...

Check out the link to the Mark Madden article from 2004. Like him or not it is well written and interesting.

Someone Somewhere said...

Every other team in baseball just laughed at the Yankees overpaying for Sabathia. He was downright average for Cleveland last year before the trade. Now that he's got his money, does anyone think he can come close to replicating his few months with the Brewers? Also, what effect will pitching about 150 innings from July->September have on him this coming year? As for A.J. Burnett...the guy can strike out ten on any given night...although he may also walk 10 as well. He's extremely overrated...what has he ever done, esp. to deserve the ridiculous amount of money the Yankees are giving him.

Teams are taking note, the Phllies and Rays built teams from the ground up and added complimentary pieces along the way. The Red Sox to a certain extent (Elsbury, Pedroia, Youkelis, Lester, and even David Ortiz wasn't a huge signing from the Twins) have done so as well. The Yankees won 4 in 5 years not by overpaying a bunch of above average players, but by building chemistry from within. It's really really really difficult to buy a championship...and New York has yet to discover that.

Nate said...

Don't forget the Brewers...they're a good team as well, and their entire core is home-grown talent.