Sunday, April 02, 2006

The night before baseball

On tonight, the eve of the 2006 Pirates season, I think I'll just recommend Dejan's excellent four parter on the Pirates "plan" for building a contender. It's very well done and if you've got the time, I recommend you sit down and read the whole thing (if you don't, you should probably make the time to read it), but I've got some thoughts on each of the parts.

Latin American Pirates- International scouting is something any casual fan of the team knows is a problem, and it appears that steps are being made in fixing the gaping hole that existed in this department when Littlefield took over the GM's job in 2001. The problem is, since the international players are signed so young it's going to take a long time to see any affect. Still, this is encouraging.

The Draft- This part is not so encouraging. Mickey White turned in some excellent drafts as scouting director, Ed Creech has not. One scout, when asked about our drafts, said (in reference to the White years):

"In the past 13 years of watching the Pirates those three years of drafts are the only good thing I've seen happen to them."
Not so good.

The Minors- Again, not so good. Some numbers are thrown around to back up Graham's work in player development, comparing the percentage of our high round picks that make the bigs against historical norms, and then doing the same with low round picks. The problem is that if the drafting and international scouting isn't good and the major league team is awful, then it's easier to push players through the minors that wouldn't necessarily make it in a good organization. In other words, when you're in a historically bad losing streak, historical norms need not apply.

The Majors- We know what's going on here. Dejan hits a home run with one of my all-time favorite paragraphs:
McClatchy blames the continued losing on the need to wipe out several long-term contracts given out before Littlefield was hired, including those of Jason Kendall, Brian Giles, Kevin Young, Kris Benson and Pat Meares. Cam Bonifay was general manager then, and the deals were approved by McClatchy.
Just remember, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Again, and again, and again, and again...