August 2, 2008

BTW Q&A: Bay Trade Backlash

The following is an email from WG.  I broke out the email in sections so I could reply.  My responses are in bold.

Let me preface this with, I am not going to attempt to change WG nor anyone's mind.  I am simply going to respond to his point with my feeling and my take on each point.

Dave, I've been a  Buc fan for over 40 years. My Dad's family is from Washington area and I have loved, cried and suffered with all Pirate fans even though I am living in the Pollution Garden right now( N.J). I understand the Bay trade for what promise it brings, but this is it for me. Over the years , players you like come and go....Hebner, Zisk, Lacy, Robinson, DeLeon, Wagner , Randa...now, Bay. You understand that is the nature of the business. But I honestly see this as another cleverly disguised salary dump for prospects.

Wow, 40 years.  There has been a lot of heartache in those years.  In past years, I would wholeheartedly agree with the salary dump premise.  I honestly can't see that in this scenario.  If it was a salary dump, I would think a deal would have been made before 3:59, mere seconds before the deadline.  If this was a dump the Pirates would have received Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez.  Sorry for that flashback.

The players NH signed or wanted to sign over the winter ( Sanchez, LaRoche, Snell and Capps) are not players that will put this team over the hump. Bay is special and he should have been part of the future. Bay is a rare player with outstanding skill and quality besides being a top level person. He is only 30 in Sept, but the Pirates are overtly getting younger.

Sanchez had back to back .300 seasons and a batting title, LaRoche has not been extended yet, Snell is the ace of the staff and Capps is the closer for some time to come but only signed an arbitration contract.  Of the players who were mentioned, I do think Snell has the potential to be an impact pitcher for years to come.  He is too competitive to allow the oddity of 2008 to happen again in 2009.  I honestly believe Snell is suffering from overuse by Tracy last year.  Snell is not the only pitcher in the majors to have an off year after overuse in 2007.  Capps is a rare find in a young closer, until his injury he was nearly spotless in save situations.  I would consider that an impact.

I believe this is not just a talent issue, but a money issue again. I have seen this routine so many times with the Pirates that this slant is just a way to say "we trade our best players again if they get a bit too expensive" no matter what the PR blurts out.

If there were not the quantity and quality of prospects returned for Bay, he would not have been traded.  This move happened because two teams wanted to get a deal done and the Pirates had the missing ingredient in Bay.

Pittsburgh deserves better. It is the best city in the East and perhaps the nation. The people are real and faithful to their clubs. Michael Keaton was right a few years back on opening day when he said he was sick of Pirate ownership using the fan base and not caring about winning.

Pittsburgh is a one of a kind place, it truly is a great city, because of the people. 

I still am not sold on ownership caring about winning, but Coonelly and Huntington are not the types who would take a job to just make a paycheck.  They are here to get this franchise back to where it belongs using a good model.  The real test is if they stick to that model.  To date, they have been truthful about building a franchise to compete long haul not just freak show instances.  Neither man wants to lose. 

I'm sure this crew will get the Pirates around .500 or over. I'm pretty sure when you keep trading away your best players for infinite promise and DO NOT spend $$$ on free agency, winning is very secondary. This isn't just the last 16 years...we have had owners who wouldn't pay great players ( Gossage, Madlock, Hebner etc) in the past, but this is beyond my limits.

A team like the Pirates will never build a team through free agency.  Look where it has got the Mets, Mariners or Astros.  Their minor leagues are barren and their teams are nowhere near where they should be for all the moves they have made in the FA market or trade market.  They have big names and high price tags, but no sustainable success.  Even the Yankees, for all the $$$ they spend needed to make some big deals to try and make a run.  Their payroll was already nearly twice what the second highest payroll was.  Have you seen a Yankee championship since they started trying to buy the world?

Free agency is a Band-Aid or a move to get over the top knowing you are close.

There is a reason Minnesota, Oakland and Anaheim are always contending.  They have strong minor leagues that feed the Majors.  This year is the first time I can remember Anaheim making any big moves at the deadline that cost prospects.  Prospects are the way to build a successful franchise, not free agency.  Boston figured that out in recent years and have a deep system to go with a nice payroll.  When you build a team right, and you have depth, you can start spending in the FA market to make a run and supplement the talent you have.

Don't forget the draft this year has some talented players that were drafted that would never have happened with Littlfield running the show.  He wanted the safe and cheap pick.  Alvarez is neither.  But he is very talented.  This teams farm system is starting to look a lot better, and this is only Huntington's first year on the job.  A few more good to great drafts, and maybe a couple more nice deals and you may get your wish to fill needs with free agents.

I love the Pirates and rarely miss a game. I Tivo games when I have to work late, go to Philly and Shea when they are in town...but I'm pretty sure this is it for me when Bay was traded. I honestly believe Doumit and Nate will be  gone3-4 years from now in July. Proof??? think back to 2004...did anyone see a NL Rookie of the year getting traded away in 2008. You'll see...

In 2004 the minors were nearly as barren as they were coming into 2008.  Littlefield figured out a way to make the desert even drier.  Huntington has to use anything at his disposal to build the team and add depth.  If there is no depth in 3 or 4 years...Huntington is failing and the next GM would be making those deals to try to get a farm system worth anything.  Based on his first year in charge, I don't see another GM running the ship in 3 or 4 years.

A lot of Pirate fans I spoke with when Bay signed his long term deal immediately called he would not make it to the end of the contract.  As for anyone expecting Bay to continue to be as good as he was after his rookie year, I don't think anyone actually expected that he would have as solid of a career with the Pirates that he did.  Heck, most people were still complaining "the Pirates traded Giles for who?" during Bays rookie year.   ROY does not guarantee a great career, but it is a good start to one.

BTW, Wilson is next and Sanchez will soon follow over the winter if they can get anything for him.

Unless Sanchez can get his average into the .280-.290 range by years end, there is no way Huntington could get good value for him.  I do not see Huntington selling Sanchez low.  Andy LaRoche could play second if needed, but Sanchez will be held onto much like Bay and Nady in hopes of increasing his value before he would ever be traded.

There has not been a real good market for Wilson in the last few years.  He has a stigma as being a glove with little bat.  Unless there is a major injury to a shortstop on a contending team Wilson will not get moved anytime soon.  There are too many good shortstops who have a better bat that Jack that are more attractive to most GM's.

I hate to see you give up on the Pirates when it seems the ship is starting to turn around and i hope to continue to get emails from you about the Pirates.  The shortcoming of the 2008 version was pitching.  If you look at the current 25 man roster, there are quite a few different arms from opening day with a few that are hard throwers.  Something that was sorely missed at any time in the last decade or two.  With the recent trades there are even more arms ready and willing in the minors.

It is true the offense is quite a bit weaker now, but they are still going to put up some runs.  Adam LaRoche is finally in his peak part of the season.  Doumit continues to rake.  Nate is exactly what everyone but Littlefield and his cronies thought he would be.  A good MLB hitter.  I am still amazed at how clutch he is.  Andrew McCutchen is not far away.  Pearce is now up to see what he can actually do with an honest chance to earn a spot.  There will still be some good offensive showings, but the pitching is deeper and may get significantly better these last two months.

Sometimes being a Pirates fan is like being in alcoholics anonymous, you have to take every day one at a time and work through the jitters and setbacks until finally you can stand on your own two feet and proclaim ....

"Hi, I am Dave and I have been a fan for 32 years..."

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