Last one out of Pittsburgh, close the door

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the story of the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates could not be more fascinating.  We covered the Pirates in some detail earlier this summer, but it was not quite evident at that time just what was in store for this franchise.

Beginning with the June 3rd trade of Nate McLouth, Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington engineered multiple trades that jettisoned 10 players with significant time with the big league club and brought back 17 new players in return. 

Huntington is confident that by addressing the overall depth of talent in the organization, the Pirates can establish themselves as a legitimate contender in the competitive N.L. Central.  For his sake (not to mention Pirates’ fans), he’d better be right – amazingly, this team has not had a winning season since 1992.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com analyzes the flurry of moves that have made the Pirates the most popular trade partners in MLB over the last two seasons. 

It is worth noting that the deals have cleared the roster of virtually every player with a substantial salary (or the likelihood of obtaining one in the next few years).  And as Crasnick points out: “Much of the discontent over the Pirates’ latest rebuild has been directed at owner Bob Nutting, who has been vilified by fans for pocketing MLB’s revenue-sharing money and foisting an inferior product on the ticket-buying public.”

Ryan Doumit: "Hey, where have all my teammates gone?"

Ryan Doumit: "Hey, where have all my teammates gone?"

Color me skeptical, but Huntington insists that he and Pirates president Frank Coonelly are the ones who have put this plan in motion, with Nutting’s approval, but solely for the purpose of repositioning the team as a rising franchise and not one focused solely on keeping down expenses.

Coonelly and Huntington have participated this season in periodic online chats for registered users of pirates.com.  Coonelly will actually be chatting tomorrow at 2pm Eastern and Huntington steps to the plate on the 18th of this month (also at 2pm Eastern).  The activity of the last few weeks should make for some lively discussion.

Of course, the bottom line is that hardcore Pirates fans deserve better.  Pittsburgh is a great sports town and it’s about time that Pirates management added to the legacies of past local heroes like Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and so many others with some homegrown stars for the next generation.

The final word goes to the recently traded Freddy Sanchez, who won the 2006 National League batting title while in a Pirates uniform:

“I loved the city of Pittsburgh. I loved going to the ballpark every day and playing for those fans. They’ll always have a special place in my heart for the support they showed after I won that batting title. That’s a baseball town in my eyes. I hope all the trades work out, because they deserve a winner there.”

Yes, they do.  The great sports town that is home to the current NFL and NHL defending champions deserves a little taste of that same success on the diamond soon as well.

A season-ending winning percentage at or above .500 one of these seasons would be a good place to start.

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~ by acm213 on August 4, 2009.

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