December 28, 2006

Time for a Chance

Probably the best move the Pirates could make this offseason is no move at all.

Before you write that statement off as inane dribble of a madman, give me a chance to explain.

Take a look at last seasons Florida Marlins. The team was made up of a bunch of younger players and rookies. They took their lumps and became a very good team and a contender by seasons end. True they had some talented players on their roster, but they were as unproven as many of the Pirates players are now.

While the Marlins young players were growing together, the Pirates were still hoping our major acquisitions in the offseason would get off the snide and the Geritol.

Once the Freddy got to play, you couldn't remove him from the lineup. We need to find out who else can fit that bill. It is time to see what we actually have talent wise in our young players. Let us find out how good the coaching staff is and how well they can teach players at a Major League level.

What about Lefty McThump?

Give Eldred a shot at first. Eldred was the Poster Boy of Pirate Minor League Power the last couple seasons. Let him play, it is time. His injury last season have set him back, but he can't prove his worth unless he faces Major League pitching.

I know Eldred has stunk it up in the Winter Leagues. The fact is we need to find out if he is a prospect or a AAAA player.

Why waste Gonzo in a trade for a player we may already have? The Trade for Mr. McThump can wait. It is most likely a good idea to see if our McThump is ready before burying him behind another at first base.

If Eldred succeeds. A couple moon shots into the river might make opponents more willing to pitch to Bay for fear of the power hitting in the five hole.

Next, lets get Doumit time behind the plate, at first and in right. He may be a switch hitting Craig Wilson or he could turn out to be yet another version of Lefty McThump. Lets call him Switchy McThump. Okay, maybe not Switchy, but you get the idea.

If Eldred and Doumit both fail, Nady can move to first.

Bautista needs a position. The team needs to make a decision on whether he is an outfielder or a third baseman. Let him play that position and quit messing with his mind.

If Bautistas future is in the outfield, let him own right field. Make him lose the position, but please don't just hand it to him.

If he is the future at third, move Freddy to second. Make third his to lose.

This team has plenty of "Positional Flexibility". Let's try seeing where they can stick.

What about Castillo?

He has played outfield during the Winter Leagues. He has the arm for third and short. He has the makings of a super sub. Show his versatility and ride his hot streaks.

Try to make Castillo more attractive as possible trade bait. Play to his strengths, and hide his weaknesses. The perceived laziness and lack of focus can be hidden better as a bench player or super sub. Get him at bats the way Bautista had them last year.

Forget all about right or left handed starters. Put the best five starters in the rotation. Don't limit the rotation by forcing Chacon, Ohka or whoever else is right handed and on the scrap heap to be the ones filling out the rotation.

Bottom line is letting the young guys take their lumps. Grow as a team. Lets find out exactly what positions we actually need to fill before we trade off our best bargaining chips.

Most likely 2007 will add to our rich history of losing, but at least we can look to the young players as hope for the future.

Who knows what could happen. Maybe the rotation will dominate. Maybe Eldred turns into the next Ryan Howard and dominates the league. Maybe Bautista makes the fans forget Aramis Ramirez. Maybe the losing could end this season.

Then again, it could be number 15 with a bullet.

At least we would be committed to a youth movement.

It is time to take a chance.
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