Sunday, April 15, 2007

I am starting to worry

Sorry for the lack of posting today. With the double header rained out, there was no need for gamethreads or Ian Snell insults or recaps or anything of the sort and there wasn't much news that particularly inspired me.

Anyways, this link to Jeff Manto talking about the lack of team hitting that I saw at the Bucs Dugout caught my eye. Here's the relevant quote:

"I have to say that we are having pretty good at-bats and we're just running into some pitching right now that's been good pitching," he said. "I don't think we felt overmatched, but we've left some runners out there quite a bit. On the whole, we feel good about ourselves and are looking forward to each and every night."
I'm not going to go into the stupidity of the quote. Charlie's got a good write up on it and I agree with everything he says. Instead, I'd rather focus on the general theme of Manto's quote, which I think is the general theme of the organization, and is probably the biggest problem right now. What Manto is saying, in effect, is "Hey, lay off the hitters. We're close to being good and it's going to happen soon." It's a load of shit and everyone knows it, but it's the general theme of the management of the team and that has me worried.

Last year during the 37-35 finish, I told my dad on the phone that the biggest mistake the Pirates could make in the off-season was to pretend like the 37-35 Pirates were the real team and they only needed minor tweaking to be a contender (I probably wrote something similar here, though I don't feel like combing the archives for it). That was, of course, exactly what the team did. Rather than focusing on the fact that they got virtually no offense from shortstop, second base, center field, and didn't simultaneously field good hitters at two of the more offense oriented positions on the field (first base and right field) for the better part of the year, they went out and traded too much to get Adam LaRoche on the assumption that adding a left-handed power hitter would turn them from a sub-700 run team into an 800+ run team that could compete. I'm not suggesting that LaRoche wasn't a good addition because I do think that he was, I'm saying that he's not by any means a cure-all and the front office certainly liked to tout him about in the press like he was.

So why am I worried? Because here's the deal: Bob Nutting is out of scapegoats at the moment and Dave Littlefield knows it. They've already moved retiring Paul Waner's #11 off the backburner that it's been on since, oh, 1996. They've already planned a team-wide celebration of Jackie Robinson and I can only assume the city's Negro League heritage that I'm sure will be moved to a later date because of the rain out today. But if this team comes into the All-Star break at anything even close to resembling 30-60, Dave Littlefield has to be fired. He's made his moves between the trading deadline and the off-season and he's gotten his guys. He's out of excuses and that means he's the next to go. That's just how these things work. Once he becomes a PR liability, he has to be fired.

While I'm all for DL being fired, I'm terrified of what he's going to do to keep it from happening. If he truly believes that this team is just a player or two away from winning, what's going to stop him from pulling the trigger on some stupid deal that sends out a few of the decent young players that we do have for some overpaid veteran because we've got some room in the budget and because it'll swing public favor back in our his favor? As noted in the PG last week, this team has a narrow window, but the window is undeniably still there (not for this year, but for a couple down the road). I don't think DL is the GM that can open it, but he is the one that can caulk it shut for the foreseeable future.

Is this stuff to depressing to think about at 4-6?