August 28, 2007

Pittsburgh Pirates: 2007 and Beyond Part 2

This is the second 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.


Director of Player Development Brian Graham and Director of Scouting Ed Creech should both be sweating profusely now that McClatchy is gone.  Creech has set this team back 10 years in his time in Pittsburgh.  For the very few talented players Creech and his staff have identified, Graham's department has completely botched their development. 

Of the Scouting department, the only scout I could see staying on the staff is Gayo.  He has not had enough time to prove his worth, I would give him at least two more seasons before I would give him a grade.  Right now he has earned a pass with a Barry (*).


Jim Tracy and his staff could be in for a shakeup when/if Littlefield is sent packing.  Competent GM's bring in their own man rather than inheriting their predecessors  leftovers.  I was never a big Tracy fan, I won't lie about that.  He has had a 124-167 record, as of this writing, with the Pirates.  His poor record is in part to the lack of talent on the team Littlefield has molded.   


What Should Happen

Even though I am not a Tracy fan, I think he and his staff should stay on.  Colborn has actually done a nice job with the pitching staff.  Recently Maholm has rediscovered his touch, Snell and Gorzy have been solid most of the year and Morris is a decent addition even though the Pirates overpaid for him.  The bullpen has done a nice job recently, now that all the pieces have been found.  Early in the year the bullpen struggled, with the hodgepodge  of arms thrown at the wall, it was no wonder the pen struggled.  Nobody could have molded that group into anything constructive.

Creech is history.


What Will Happen

Tracy and his crew will be released upon the naming of a new GM.  Littlefield's successor will want to bring in someone he works well with, or interview to find that manager.  Tracy may have to interview for his own job if he wants to stay with the team.  No I am not saying he will need to send off a resume, I am just implying he needs to kiss a lot of GM butt to keep his current gig.  If he stays, some of his staff is gone.

Creech is history.  Most of the front office will be gone when Littlefield is gone.


What Could Happen

The Astros release of Phil Garner plays right into the hands of Nutting.  He has pushed for the Pirates to embrace their past and become more of a "Family" if you will.  Who better to coach a team that you want to relive it's past glory than old Scraps?  Imagine the bobble head possibilities?  Garner has had a lot of success with young teams, even success with bad teams.  Phil has been able to get all his teams to play above their heads until their heads get too large.  In Milwaukee he made a bad team look respectable.  In Houston, he took a team that didn't deserve to be in the playoff to the World Series.  In Detroit, he got some bad teams to play well over their heads.

One common thing in Garner's managerial career, if he had decent pitching, he could get a team to win.  The Pirates, if nothing else, have some pitching talent.

It is possible Littlefield stays.  The new CEO might want to take a look at Littlefield's performance, making a judgement after he see's what is delivered in 2008. 



Garner will never be the Pirates manager, it would be nice to see Scraps back in Black and Gold.  It would be mandatory to have at least one throwback Pillbox Hat game a month.  Sounds like a Hollywood screen play: the 2nd baseman of the last championship team come back 30 years later to rescue a flailing franchise.  Garner is a long shot at best.

Tracy will likely get a couple more seasons, until a new GM has his fingerprints all over this team and has molded it into the team he envisions.  That is when the new GM will go out and get his guy, if he doesn't bring his own guy with him from the start.  Tracy is 50-50 to stay.  Same odds go for a new GM's manager coming in with the GM.

Creech simply must go.  He sounds like a character from "Saved by the Bell" and apparently has the same skill at finding talent.

Graham could survive, based on the success the Minors have had in recent years.  Of course that success was largely due to a group of 30-somethings playing in AA.


In Pittsburgh Pirates: 2007 and Beyond Part 3, I'll take a look at 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.  It may be Wednesday before Part 3 post makes the web.  I need to grab some stats to back my thoughts, or at least change my mind.


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