August 27, 2007

Pittsburgh Pirates: 2007 and Beyond Part 1

This is the first in a series of articles that will take look at the current state and the future state of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The articles will be broken out into three parts: what should happen, what will happen and what could happen.  We'll take a look at each position in the franchise covering where they are, where they will be and where they should be.

 

The obvious start is the front office.  With the resignation of Kevin McClatchy, a void is left in the front office.  This makes a trickle down affect throughout the entire structure of the organization from scouting to coaching.  The entire future of the franchise lies in the hands of one man.  Robert Nutting.

Robert Nutting has stated he is a one man committee that will choose the successor to Kevin McClatchy.  McClatchy is owed a great deal of thanks for keeping the Pirates in Pittsburgh by each and every fan, his failure was simply not fielding a winning team and mismanagement of the organization with poor decisions in hiring the right people in the most important positions.  Regardless, McClatchy should receive a standing ovation the last home game of the season for keeping this team in Pittsburgh.

His successor has an easy decision on the general managers position, Dave Littlefield should be gone as soon as the new CEO of Baseball Operations is named, preferably at the press conference announcing the new CEO.  Under the Littlefield regime, the Pirates have drafted poorly by taking safe picks rather than the best pick.  Other failures under Littlefield include the Rule V fiasco, the scrap heap signings of aged vets who were well past their prime and the poorest of trades. 

Littlefield can be credited with acquiring some talent, namely LaRoche, Bay, Nady and Sanchez, as well as drafting a slew of left handed pitchers to the point the Pirates are one of the few teams looking for right handed help when every other team is looking for lefties.

Littlefields' lack of vision to trade away some of the young arms for positional help in the minors is his downfall.  He has continued to acquiore middle relievers and additional arms in nearly every trade.

Under Littlefield there has been no direction to the franchise, no goals set and no improvement in his time in the GM's chair.  The only measuring stick the Pirates have used in recent years is "improvement" over previous seasons.  They have failed even in that aspect.

 

What Should Happen

Nutting should be looking for someone who loves Pittsburgh, the Pirates and Baseball.  Forget the old boy network wanting a "baseball man".  Get someone in who is a good to great evaluator of talent.  Someone who can make the tough decisions and not look back.  Nutting needs to select someone who will immediately command respect and bring back some respectability to this franchise.

Steer clear of the inexperienced assistants.  That is how we got DL for target practice.

 

What Will Happen

Nutting will look for the classic "baseball man".  Numerous rumors are floating around about who he is considering.  He has met with at least one "baseball man", the Boston Herald is reporting Dan Duquette has already met with Nutting.  Duquette is the man responsible for getting Martinez, Ramirez, Varitek, Damon, Wakefield and Lowe to Boston.  They were the core of talent that brought Boston the World Series in 2004.  Duquette wanted to get  more into the business side of baseball when he was fired by Boston.

Prior to Duquette taking the reigns in Boston, he was the general manager of the Montreal Expos.  He is definitely use to working with a tight budget and is a good evaluator of talent.  The question with Duquette is whether he would want to be both CEO and GM?  Would he be willing to work under the tightest of budgets that the Nuttings love to hand down?

 

What Could Happen

A magician is what this team needs.  Maybe David Copperfield could come in and make the last 15 seasons disappear?  He may be able to make the Statue of Liberty disappear, but even he wouldn't be able to pull that one off.

Maybe an entertainer needs to come in with Pittsburgh roots?  Remember the bobble head boxes say "We Will...Entertain."  Obviously someone with a sense of humor would be good considering how this franchise has been a joke for 15 seasons.  How about Dennis Miller?  He has tried football commentator, talk show host, actor, stand up, Saturday Night Live.  No, he is too intelligent for that.

Someone with a financial interest could be entertained.  Everyone loves to mention Mark Cuban.  He would only be a good candidate if he had financial interest in the team, interest in the way of majority owner.  Cuban is not the type to take direction from anyone, let alone a Nutting.

Where does this leave us?  A GM wanting to have the power to control a team?  A VP wanting to step up to the title of CEO?  Gerry Hunsicker has been mentioned as a possible candidate, he is currently a VP in the Devil Rays organization. 

 

Odds

 The odds on favorite is Duquette.  This is the role he wanted in Boston and he wants to get back into baseball.  It wouldn't be the worst move, but it is the safest move.

 

In Pittsburgh Pirates: 2007 and Beyond Part 2, I'll take a look at manager and scouting.  Part 3 will be the start of position players, we will start with right field since it has the biggest log jam at the MLB level.  Each following article will work through each position eventually getting to the rotation and the bullpen.

 

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