2011 Organizational Rankings: #28 – Pittsburgh

The Pirates have some strength on the farm (though, it should be noted, that tie for 5th place is a 10-way tie, as Marc and Reed handled the prospect ratings, and with just two voters, the organizations are clustered more tightly in that section), but they are not very well regarded in the other three areas, and so they find themselves in the bottom tier once again.

Major League Talent: 67.50 (t-27th)

Pirates Season Preview

Minor League Talent: 85.00 (t-5th)

Pirates Top 10 Prospects

Financial: 70.38 (27th)
Baseball Operations: 75.00 (t-25th)

Overall Rating – 72.87 (28th)

In some ways, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the National League Central’s answer to the Cleveland Indians. Both are led by forward-thinking front offices, and Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington was a member of Cleveland’s front office for about ten years. Both front offices have hired prominent internet “saberists”: Keith Woolner in Cleveland and Dan Fox in Pittsburgh. Both are in the midst of painful rebuilding processes. Both are strapped for cash. Both seem to make moves that look good on paper but don’t quite work out in reality. Cleveland at least has the memory of their 2007 run in the playoffs, whereas Pittsburgh has experienced nearly two decades of futility. That is extremely unlikely to change soon for the Pirates, but there are some signs of hope for the future in Pittsburgh if they keep on the present course and catch a few breaks.

“Baseball Operations” is difficult to evaluate from the outside. The “process” by which decisions are made, rather than isolated and immediate results, should always be the most important factor in evaluating an organization’s operations. This is particularly so in the case of a team like the Pirates, in which contending for the playoffs isn’t always a realistic goal or measuring stick. Because we aren’t privy to how they do operations, so much of this part of the evaluation depends on inference and speculation, and this often involves looking at results to try and deduce something about the process — it’s far from ideal, but it’s what we have to go on.

The Pirates do have a “sabermetric” reputation, and that might help them a bit, but overall the FanGraphs writers have not been impressed, and the Pirates rank in bottom fifth of the league with respect to baseball operations.

As alluded to earlier, the Pirates have made moves that looked good on paper, but many of them have not really worked out. They bought low on prospects (such as Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche) whose shine had worn off for different reasons, which is a smart thing to do, but neither are with the team any longer after performing poorly. They did well to get Jose Tabata from the Yankees, but the returns for big assets like Jason Bay and Nate McLouth (at the time, he projected as a good player signed to a team-friendly contract) have generated very little. While it is all about “the process” and perhaps the Pirates have just have some bad luck despite doing the right things, one does wonder how much of this has just been “bad luck” and how much of this is a failure of baseball operations — specifically, their scouting department — to identify the right targets. The Pirates may also have made a mistake in opting for quantity of prospects over quality in trade returns. It may have been the case that they weren’t offered quality. But the trade returns haven’t been impressive so far.

There are some positive signs regarding the Pirates baseball operations staff beyond merely a vaguely sabermetric reputation. The Pirates have spent in the draft, and while their farm system certainly isn’t on the same level as Kansas City, Tampa Bay, or Texas yet, it has made great strides under Huntington and his staff, and that is the most important thing for any team in the Pirates’ situation.

If the Pirates’ farm system puts them ahead of teams like the Astros and Diamondbacks in the ratings, along with their current major league talent, their overall financial outlook prevents Pittsburgh from moving up much further in the rankings. The Pirates simply don’t appear to have that much money. Their payroll hasn’t been over $50 million since 2003, and dipped under $40 million last season. To be fair, this is partly because the front office has rightly managed to avoid spending too much cash on free agents whose added value in the wins column is mostly superfluous during an extended rebuild, but given the recent history of the team, this is not a positive outlook for the future of the teams ability to spend when they are ready to contend.

Still, the team is obligated (according to Cot’s as of today) to less than $11 milllion in 2012, and has zero obligations going forward starting in 2013. That’s not exactly the case, since they’ll surely be keeping players like McCutchen, Alvarez, and others around and will be willing to pay them into their early arbitration years. The team probably also will be trying to lock some of their promising youngsters up to team-favorable guaranteed contracts. Nonetheless, the Pirates will have some money to spend in a few years. Whether that is enough money, spent wisely, to sufficiently supplement incoming help from their farm system (provided that help arrives in a timely fashion…) is another question entirely. Again, the immediate financial situation does not appear promising, but there is a bit of hope on the horizon.

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

61 Responses to “2011 Organizational Rankings: #28 – Pittsburgh”

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  1. Temo says:

    You should have more than 2 voters for prospects. That much clustering is not informative.

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  2. Nick says:

    Just to be clear, the minor league talent ranking DOES NOT take into account Tabata and Alvarez, right? Because I consider them graduated, and without them, i don’t see how they have top 5 talent on the farm. If this assumption from me is correct, then we’ll have to agree to disagree, Matt.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      The future talent aspect covers all players who are considered to play a significant role in the organization going forward. I’ll changing the wording in the posts to make this more clear.

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  3. Bronnt says:

    Just to clarify: Now that these are being published, “Minor League Talent” has replaced “Future Talent” ?

    I dislike the idea that your division of player resources is basically “This year’s team” and “What’s on the farm.” A team like the Red Sox, with their 11th ranked farm system, has a lot more future talent than Jose Iglesias et. al. They have long term contracts given to quality players like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Jon Lester who are all going to have an impact on their team well beyond the 2011 season. A team which has a broad overlap in its current talent and future talent should be rewarded.

    I hope I’m not reading too much into the word usage of “Major League Talent” and “Minor League Talent” compared to what I find much more reasonable, “Current Talent” and “Future Talent.”

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      The wording has been changed in the posts to clarify – Marc and Reed were focusing on young talent that will make an impact on the future of the organization in determining the ratings in that area. For a team that has significant Major League assets under team control that are already developed talents, credit for those players is given in the Present Talent section.

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      • Bronnt says:

        “For a team that has significant Major League assets under team control that are already developed talents, credit for those players is given in the Present Talent section.”

        I guess everyone’s a critic, but I’m already growing skeptical of your process. It’s partially my bias as a Braves’ fan, expecting that you’re not giving them credit for having developed talents like Heyward, Hanson, McCann, Medlen, Freeman, and Prado, who are going to make a solid core for a team over next 4-5 years. I fear that they’re being short-changed in comparison to a team like the Phillies, who look to have a stronger team on paper in 2011, but I see them as an older team whose current talent just doesn’t play as well in the future.

        Again, a lot of this is my own bias, but I can think it also unfairly affects the Pirates, who have a lot of young players who are in the Majors now and could form a very good core for the team’s future. It certainly wouldn’t be enough to move them up more than a spot or two, but I would still have them a tad higher than 28th based on the potential of McCutchen, Alvarez, Walker, and Tabata.

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      • oh dear says:

        Maybe you should wait until the list comes out before you decide you are disappointed with it. Unreal…

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      • Bronnt says:

        oh dear,

        Am I not allowed to express concerns with the process? Or am I forced to wait and see if I exactly agree with every team’s precise location before I voice dissent?

        Sometimes people can get at the right answers via the wrong methods, and I’d like to go ahead an express my concerns about the process so it doesn’t look entirely like I’m a homer upset about where my team ended up ranked. I expressed concerns about the process in the poll thread as well, but this time, I was fortunate enough to get a direct response from Dave, so I can directly respond to him with my questions. Hopefully it will resonate with him on some level.

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      • MH says:

        But the fact that a team has good young players under control is still part of the criterion, just under the ‘major league’ or ‘current’ talent instead of the other category. Perhaps Dave can clarify, but I’m not sure it’s broken down into “who’s on the roster this year, ignoring future circumstances” and “who’s in the minor league system”. I’d imagine teams with a number of young, cost-controlled players that stand to improve will rate pretty well.

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      • MA says:

        The Braves outranked the Phillies last year. I can’t imagine that they won’t do so again this year.

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      • Bronnt says:

        MH-Perhaps you’re right, but given their increased attempt at objectivity and their fairly curious method of ranking “future talent”-ie, having two prospect guys basically rank the minor league systems and seemingly giving little effort beyond that-it doesn’t seem accurate. I still wish they’d aborted the attempt to objectify this and just had everyone use their own criterion, have a discussion and consensus. I already used the example of the Red Sox, who I think should be considered having better “future talent” than the Royals since there’s a level of uncertainty with prospects, while the Red Sox have a large number of very good, known quantities in place for the next 3-5 years. I mean, I don’t expect Eric Hosmer to be better in 2014 than Adrian Gonzalez, or Wil Myers to be better than Carl Crawford, or Mike Montgomery to be better than Jon Lester. And I love the Royals’ system right now.

        I’m just not sure how they’re evaluating in their scoring system a team that has a good team right now but with limited control beyond the present season, and a team that has good young talent under extended team control. I feel like that’s an important distinction, and I’m curious how much consideration it actually received in this process.

        MA-You’re probably right. I did want to qualify where I was coming from just out of fairness, but I also feel like I’m expressing a legitimate concern about this project’s accuracy. I feel like there needed to be an express distinction between pure “farm system” and actual “future talent” that takes into consideration which current players are under extended team control and have good years ahead of them. When you hear “Future talent” as a grading criteria, you’re likely to think immediately of just prospects, but teams can also bank on the future contributions of their second and third year players. I just worry that it’s not a consideration that’s been made by the normally-thorough FG staff.

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  4. McClucker says:

    Damn, I surely thought that rap song would of helped get them out of the bottom 3.

    Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow, Black and yellow….sorry, but those are they only lyrics I know.

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  5. glp says:

    Seems to me you all should have completed the prospect top 10 lists for all teams before you started in with these.

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  6. joe bananas says:

    “but neither are with the team any longer after just not performancing.”

    perhaps now the general public will come to recognize what pirate’s fans have known for years – the serious issue of performancing anxietying

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  7. gonfalon says:

    hooray! If this ranking holds true, then the Pirates won’t finish in last place in 2011!

    in all seriousness, it will be interesting to see how the Pirates’ financial ranking compares with that of the Mets, a team that will spend over $19M on three players not on their roster this year, and of the Rays.

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  8. Kirsh says:

    This time next year, they’ll have one of the top three prospects in baseball (Cole or Rendon), and they’ll have Rudy Owens, Tony Sanchez, Brad Lincoln in their rotation. Add that to McCutchen, Alvarez, Tabata, and maybe McDonald and Walker, and that’s a pretty decent nucleus. They’ve got a long, long way to go, but I agree that there’s finally a little something to look forward to.

    They should have two of the top eight or nine prospects in baseball, too, when you consider Taillon’s presence.

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  9. KJG520 says:

    “but the returns for big assets like Jason Bay and Nate McLouth (at the time, he projected as a good player signed to a team-friendly contract) have generated very little.”

    It seems that your analysis is missing a few things. First Bay and McLouth did not have that much value at the times of their trades. McLouth was a career fourth outfielder coming off a career year. He was 28 at the time and while cheap still does not provide much value to a team that is not likely to win in the years in which McLouth is under contract.

    The haul for him Jeff Locke (one of the Pirates top 10 prospects who took a step forward and has a solid pedigree for a lefty starter), Charlie Morton (who has demonstrated good stuff but not results) and Gorkyz Hernandez (one of the best defensive CFs in the minors who could be a useful utility outfielder/pinch runner on a winning team).

    If any of these players becomes a useful cog in the next winning team in Pittsburgh the trade would have been worth it because McLouth was not likely to be around and if he were his value would be less than any of these players.

    In regards to Bay, he certainly had more value than McLouth but still his value was tempered. Bay, a 29 year old light defense left fielder with injury problems is not a particularly powerful asset. Also, similarly to the McLouth he was not likely to be a part of the next good Pirate team. So, if any of the players managed to be valuable to the next winner in Pittsburgh the trade would be worth it.

    Now, I think that the execution on this one was poor. I think it was rushed and the Pirates would have been better to just accept draft picks the following year after Bay inevitably left for free agency. The Pirates should have gotten more for Bay but I don’t know that they could have. The Bucs should have tried to get more from Boston at the time since they were desperate to get rid of Manny Ramirez. Still, Bryan Morris could be a useful starter which would help meliorate the losses.

    Finally, on the question of quantity over quality, I would ask that you cite your source because I don’t know that there was ever a choice in that regard. These players the Pirates traded were not that valuable to begin with. Teams generally don’t part with prospects like Jesus Montero unless the other team is offering Francisco Liriano or Cliff Lee.

    Nobody fit that profile, not McLouth, not Sanchez, not even Bay. Also, shouldn’t a team like the Pirates try to acquire as many prospects as possible since most of them bust anyway? When Huntington inherited the “system” there was not one in place. Does it not make sense then to fill the system with as many prospects as possible? I don’t think that Huntington had much of a choice and he has done well in his attempts.

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    • Yeah, I tried to qualify my comments on that a bit without bogging the piece down too much. It’s hard to know what (if anything) else they could have received (or were offered) in terms of quality or quantity in the Bay and McLouth trades, but given that there’s not a single player from either trade of them that looks like he will ever become a starting pitcher or position player, that seems to point to a problem.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

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      • Adam R. says:

        Bryan Morris will never become a starting pitcher? I agree that Mclouth return was disappointing though.

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      • Oh, right, Morris. But, yeah…

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      • toby says:

        Morris, Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton all have decent chances of being worthwhile MLB starting pitchers. Kerrigan f’d Morton up big time last year, but he’s looked different class this spring. He’s the longest shot of the bunch, but he’s also already there so we’ll know sooner than later. Not sure how you could ignore Locke.

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    • gonfalon says:

      “These players the Pirates traded were not that valuable to begin with.”

      Sad but true. Hopefully Bryan Morris will redeem the otherwise poor results of the most valuable of Huntington’s trade chips, Jason Bay.

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  10. CircleChange11 says:

    I don’t have a problem with this …

    As alluded to earlier, the Pirates have made moves that looked good on paper, but many of them have not really worked out.

    … as long as it applied consistently throughout the series. That includes docking other smart GMs who have made “intellectual moves” that have not worked out, and to “other” GMs that have had moves work out magnificently, even though their FG reputation might not be that high (to state it nicely). I don’t intend that to read as snotty or high-handed as I know it will read.

    I like Neil Huntington and what he has done. He started off in the worst possible situation, and in one of the worst possible environments. Simply put he’s running a race with his legs tied together at the ankles, and with most others having a 50-yard head start.

    If he can get the Pirates to 81 wins in the next few years, they should rename the stadium (if that would, in fact, be an honor). I’m not joking. The situation is bleak.

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    • Yeah, I was simply saying what I think it going on in Pittsburgh, I”m not sure how other people went about generating their grades. It also goes to the difficulty of establishing what might or might not be going on with their “process.” But in the Pirates case, it seems very little has gone right with most of the trades. Maybe it’s just bad luck, but it’s been pretty consistently bad.

      I do like the overall strategy, though, and the farm system is promising. I agree that the situation is bleak, though, and even if the front office had more success, the financial situation would still leave them in an ugly spot.

      Thanks for reading.

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      • PiratesBreak500 says:

        I think part of that comes from the fact that the strategy has still been relatively new. HUntington has been there for a few years, but he had almost nothing to work with when he arrived. We’re only now seeing the farm system begin to kick in; he’s done a good job so far, but now I think we really get to see what the front office can/will do.

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    • Bronnt says:

      I agree with the sentiment here-I would like to see the standard where good intent is rewarded even if it hasn’t led to positive results. At least to the extent that I understand what you’re saying. But I’m curious what you’d qualify as an example of a guy with a poor FG reputation making an excellent move. Perhaps your referring to Brian Sabean’s addition of Aubrey Huff?

      I think sometimes GMs successes are pure luck-I tend to think of how Paul O’Neill was a better hitter in his worst year as a Yankee than he was in his best year with the Reds. Would have been almost impossible to see that, but his addition looked really smart in retrospect.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Sabaen had other moves, like Uribe. I’m not saying vault him to the top. But, I would also give him credit for drafting Lincecum when other organizations had reservations about his mechanics. Brad Lincoln (PIT), Greg Reynolds (COL), Brandon Morrow (SEA), Hochevar (KCR), and Miller (DET) were drafted ahead of TL55.

        I wouldn’t over-value some of the moves that worked out, especially when considering some of the other moves that did not. It is tricky business evaluating moves, since so many of them made sense at the time (not just SFG moves).

        Outside of Philly, I would consider the Giants rotation to be the strongest in baseball.

        Cain, Lincecum, Posey, Baumgartner, Sanchez, and Wilson were all acquired through the draft. At some point we have to move past Zito and Rowand. Panda is a move that’s still in the “wait and see” stages (IMO).

        I have posted how KW acquired the ChiSox rotation, but I also concede that was a long time ago, in baseball years. When “dumb moves” like acquiring Rios work out, it’s not inherently “luck”, it could also be something that the GM saw that maybe others did not.

        I’m not out the reward luck, but I’m also a “let the chips fall where they may” type guy when it comes to evaluating these types of things.

        For example, even as a Cardinal fan, I give them ZERO credit for drafting Pujols. He wasn’t a “find” in the 13-14 round. They, like everyone else, drafted him far lower than where he should have been.

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      • Vote4Pedro says:

        Agree Bronnt — NH was reportedly close to landing Cliff Lee and Jonathan Sanchez at various points. Either deal would have fans forgetting about the humble trade returns and failed projects. Stupid perfect game…

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      • Nick says:

        @Circle- I see your point, but I don’t think the Cards drafted Pujols lower than they should have. He was an overweight, pudgy guy entering the draft with no defensive position and the power wasn’t quite what it is today.

        It’s a credit to Albert for his outstanding work ethic that he got in shape, developed incredible hitting mechanics, and worked extremely hard to become a good defensive 1st baseman. I agree the Cards got lucky with him somewhat, but I don’t agree that he should have been a drafted higher. Some players just pop out of nowhere, when something clicks, kind of like Brandon Belt with the Giants.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        If you know the story of Brandon Belt, as reported by Andy Baggerly, Giants beat writer for the San Jose Mercury News, he was drafted in round 5 specifically because a scout saw him hit a monster HR in the Cape Cod league, retained that information, spoke up in the draft room and was confident that power could be added to his already impressive hit tool. The Giants then had him open his stance a bit and add a slight uppercut and the rest is history. Brandon Belt’s arrival on the prospect scene is no accident!

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  11. CircleChange11 says:

    Nick I agree somewhat. Pujols was, as I heard a guy who coached against him say “the fat kid playing shortstop” … But then went on to say, “… that hit like no one you’ve ever seen”.

    From what I’ve read from his amatuer days, he basically smashed hitting records everywhere he played.

    But the big thing for me is his MiLB hitting and his consistent MLB performance. His combination of contact, power, and plate discipline is unparalled. In reflex testing he scores of the charts.

    We’ve had the “shortstop discussion” previously. But I think that speaks to his talent that his team would play him at SS.

    The issue to me is that mote scouts didn’t see his bat playing at other positions. When I compare his amatuer perception to that of say Wallace and Moustakas, I’m wondering why more scout didn’t see his value or rate it higher.

    The body type thing is a pet peeve of sorts to me, because we still see comments about Cabrera being fat. He and Pujols are the 2 best, and most consistent hitters in the game.

    Interestingl enough, the 2 big knocks on Manny Ramirez was that he was a perfectionist that took failure too hard, and that he might hard work himself into the ground.

    I do give AP5 lots of credit for his work ethic. But some of his body type stuff could just be the result of maturing and losing the “baby fat” so to speak. But he’s been about the same type/quality hitter since American Legion ball.

    I recall reading some information that Albert was so disappointed with his draft position that he thought about not playing. It reminded me of Bob Gibson considering not reporting to Spring Traing after his rookie season.

    Sorry for the rambling. I just fine AP5’s career path very interesting. When a guy has good feet, good hands, a decent arm, and hits like, well a ‘Machine’, I would have thought more would see greater value in that.

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    • bluechipper says:

      I played against Albert in high school, and I still have no idea where the “pudgy kid” comments are coming from. I mean, he was huge for a shortstop, sure, and there was no way he had the right body frame or quickness to ever dream about staying at that position. But he was nowhere near fat or even pudgy. He was just a huge man.

      And you are right about the ability to absolutely smash a baseball from the time he mysteriously appeared in high school and crushed a towering, light pole homer in his first at bat.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Baseball people to exaggerate in ways that is understood.

        When the coach called him “the fat shortstop”, we all knew he did not mean “50 pounds overweight”, just the standard-issue 165 pound JuCo shortstop.

        No pitcher really “throws BB’s”, a “heavy ball” or whatever.

        Okay, so Rick Garces was fat. I’ll give them that.

        The coach went on to explain that AP hit the same car’s windshield (in the parking lot across the street from the stadium) twice in a game, and then made a joke about the owner wishing they had e-bay back then. Other than the AP stories, I can’t remember a single thing he said.

        Like I said, AP5 OPS’d .920 in 3 levels of MiLB (same season) as a 20yo. Either he worked really, really, really, really hard in between JuCo and pro ball, or quite a few scouts really missed the boat on the obvious. Then as a 21yo, he OPS’d 1.000+ as a MLB rookie.

        When I say scouts “F’d up”, I’m saying that as seriously as I can say anything.

        Meanwhile, more than a couple of teams were drooling over Brett Wallace.

        For fun, check the 99 draft 1st round and look at some of the names on there. It only gets worse after that.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        As a not-so-funny tid-bit, the Cardinals took Chris Duncan in the 1st round.

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    • gonfalon says:

      I did not know that Pujols was originally a shortstop.

      Say, the Pirates could use a replacement for Ronny Cedeno… if Pujols becomes a free agent, they should seriously consider bidding on him. Pujols’ bat would be a bit less productive, since his career 1.156 OPS vs. Pirates pitchers would be null and void as a Pirate, but otherwise what could possibly go wrong?

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  12. DrBGiantsfan says:

    I’m surprised Pittsburgh is this low. Their financial situation is not great, but they actually have a solid core of young players at the major league level with more on the way in the minors and another #1 draft pick coming up.

    I think they should take Cole because they need pitching and Cole is a premium talent who can help them within a year. Rendon already has two serious ankle/foot injuries under his belt and they already have Alvarez.

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    • Bronnt says:

      And in regards to their financial situation, I think to some extent that’s more a symptom of management not wanting to spend excessively on big league talent in years that they won’t be competitive. I suspect they could easily go back up over $50 million immediately if they think they could win the division. If you get a competitive team in Pittsburgh, fans will start showing up again-they’re fanatically loyal to the Steelers, and I think that support has the potential to bleed over to baseball. If they can reach the playoffs one time in the next 2-3 years, they could probably get their major league payroll up to $90 million.

      I agree that Pittsburgh is lower than I’d have put them-but then, just barely. It might be just a slightly different opinion by the writers, or it might be a symptom of certain concerns I have with the process. I think I’d have given this spot to the Orioles. Even though they have what seems like a better financial situation, their relative financial situation in their division is just as bad, and I wouldn’t give them any other advantages over the Pirates. I’d basically put the Pirates essentially dead even with the Royals-similar current talent, a slight edge in future talent for Kansas City, but I trust Neil Huntington a lot more than I do Dayton Moore.

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      • johnnycuff says:

        >they’re fanatically loyal to the Steelers

        don’t forget the penguins, who just completed their something like 200th straight sellout. the city loves a winner. there’s almost no chance they could fall into a scenario like the rays, where they win and nobody comes.

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      • reillocity says:

        The greatest short-term concern is that there’s a whole generation of greater Pittsburghers who have never seen the Pirates competitive and thus have always directed their sports attention to the Steelers and Penguins. It will be incredibly hard for the Pirates to ever get that population interested in Pirates baseball. To make the Pirates competitive again will require overspending on payroll and scouting and player development, and that’s simply not going to happen with the current group of owners they have in place.

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    • Ryan S says:

      You can’t pass on a talent like Rendon. Alvarez won’t stick at third forever and Rendon looks much more athletic in the field. Longoria has been a legitimate comparison.

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  13. epoc says:

    This is one of the most well-informed, well-reasoned, and far analyses I’ve seen of the Pirates in quite some time. As a Pirate fan, I wish they were rated higher, but I really can’t argue with anything in this article. Well done.

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  14. evo34 says:

    I like this article. Not many people take an objective approach to evaluating the Pirates management. The trades — and there have been many — have underperformed with very few exceptions. I am willing to grant that young/new GMs probably have a bit of a devlopment curve, and so perhaps Huntington has not yet peaked. But his performance thus far has not exactly been dominant.

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  15. Dack2 says:

    I have to agree with EPOC. This is an informed, well reasoned article. One of the problems I have with the argument from us fans that the Pirates have “good young talent” on the roster is that this talent is essentially four players…McCutcheon, Tabata, Walker, and Alvarez. Maybe two good bullpen arms in Hanrahan and Meek and the rest of the roster is a collection of complementary players, bench players and 5th starters. That 5th ranked farm system is going to have to produce almost all successes to turn this roster around unless the big club starts to supplement the “young talent” with actual established and successful major leaguers. Of course as the article points out, there are hardly enough financial resources to accomplish such a task, overall 28th sounds just right.

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    • glp says:

      I wouldn’t put much emphasis on the 5th-ranked-farm-system thing; as the article notes, it’s a ten-way tie for fifth. It’s just about the same as being the 15th ranked system.

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  16. Pat says:

    I’d put the Pirates above the Indians but it’s basically a coin flip I suppose. Not really sure what separates the two, Cleveland probably has less ML talent, Choo and Carmona is pretty much it, and while they have MLB ready prospects, Pittsburgh has a lot of pitching options who are both close and far away, it’s just their payroll is very low and their major league rotation is abysmal. I also feel like it’s going to be a while for Cleveland to have a 60M+ payroll, once Sizemore and Pronk are gone, they will go very cheap.

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  17. brhas says:

    I’m encouraged–so much that I’d have to rank them higher than 28. I’m not just considering the talent at all levels but the state of the franchise relative to previous years. It’s the slope of the franchise, I guess. Revenue is great but you invest in the growth rate.

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  18. Joncarlos says:

    So far there is a lot of thoughtful commentary on both sides of the argument.

    Huntington walked into a mess. I don’t think anyone realized how bad it was at the time. He did well to get what he got for Mclouth and Bay. Taking a chance on faded stars with huge upside was a calculated risk that looks like it didn’t pan out (you can probably add Alderson to that list, and maybe Lambo too). But I don’t know where the mistake was.

    Were the scouts wrong to say they were fixable? Were the scouts right but the Pirates didn’t have the coaches to do the fixing?

    So while it’s great to look at Tabata/Walker/Alvarez/McCutchen and say “winning” it’s important to realize that doesn’t automatically give you a top-5 management grade. Having said that, I think that 25th is still a little low.

    Even if you consider the “core four” to be major league talent, the farm isn’t totally devoid of usable pieces (Heredia, Allie, Taillon, Sanchez, Morris) so the combination of current and future talent probably needs to be a bit higher.

    Does financial resources just mean right now? Or in general, considering market size and things like that? Because I’d put the Pirates ahead of the Mets and Dodgers in terms of flexibility if we’re just talking right now :)

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  19. El Duder says:

    how’s the return for McLouth looking now? Locke, Hernandez and Morton all having amazing years

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