Baseball takes patience

9 09 2010

I’m late to the party on this topic, but I have a couple things to say. On Sept. 3, Pirates president Frank Coonelly expressed his dissatisfaction with the team’s record, which at the time was 44-89. He assessed that manager John Russell and general manager Neal Huntington’s jobs could be on the line. The losing record assures one of MLB’s oldest and most stories franchises that it will endure its 18th consecutive losing season, the longest streak for any club in major American sports history. That’s a tough pill for Pirates management to swallow as they become even more irrelevant in a city that worships Penguins hockey and Steelers football. A Stanley Cup title and two Super Bowl victories in the last four years haven’t done any favors to the Pirates.

A massive restructuring of the organization’s talent has been performed by Huntington since he was hired a few years ago. It was necessary for the Pirates to truly turn the table. Think of it as a cleansing.  Huntington, upon arriving in the Steel City, decided that’s what he would do to make the Pirates a long-term success. He purged every mediocre veteran from the club and received tons of talent back. One particular trade I liked was him sending second baseman Freddie Sanchez to the Giants for big-time pitching prospect Tim Alderson. The Pirates have found success with Garrett Jones, a star in Andrew McCutchen and perhaps another star in Pedro Alvarez. They’ve spent loads of money on prospects. Now, after a few years of laying to waste every half-assed veteran and accumulating an enviable amount of talent in the farm system, Coonelly is perturbed that the Pirates’ major league team currently sucks?

Don’t be fooled. His position is that of the typical posturing team executives do to show their fans they care about winning. Remember, Coonelly’s warning comes on the heels of the Pirates being one of the teams discovered to have basically profited from losing. Financial documents leaked to Deadspin a couple weeks ago showed that low-payroll clubs such as the Pirates and Marlins raked in revenue-sharing cash while hardly raising the needle on the team payroll. What better time for Coonelly to express his desire to win than now, when Pirates fans have essentially thrown up their arms in disgust at the team’s greed?

Hopefully for the sake of the Pirates’ future, Coonelly isn’t dumb enough to follow through on his threat. All firing Huntington will do is ensure that his few years of hard work in replenishing the Pirates talent level will go to waste. Another GM would take a different path in order to show everyone he was the boss. If the Pirates hired Huntington to set and follow through on a long path toward building a sustained level of talent, then that’s precisely what they should let him do.

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9 09 2010
Page Seven

Sidney Crosby took some BP with the Bucs last night and after two practice swings, blasted a 370 HR. The only hope for the Pirates is to sign Crosby.

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