Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Looking back and looking forwards

From late in 2005, the year I started this blog, through the end of 2007 all I ever really wanted was for the Pirates to throw up their hands, say, "This team sucks and our minor league system is really bad. The only way we're ever going to be relevant again is by tearing apart the team, giving up on a couple of years, and rebuilding this thing from the ground up." In 2008, the Pirates actually did that. Given that tearing apart the team and throwing up the white flag on two months of a season is what I've been hoping they'd do, it's hard to be distressed about the way 2008 ended.

My dad is fond of comparing buildig a baseball team to solving a Rubik's Cube. You don't solve one side at a time, you have to work on each of the faces simultaneously. Sometimes you have a face solved and have to break it up in order to keep things moving in the right direction. Do I know Huntington is going to turn the Pirates around after a year on the job? No. He's still got a long ways to go. What I do know is that he seems determined to actually solve the Rubik's Cube, rather than trying to pull the stickers off and glue them back on in the right order and hope that no one notices.

The mistake that I think a lot of fans are making right now is looking at the team that took the field at the end of 2008 as a finished product. The Pirates, as assembled, look bad right now, but I'd be really surprised if the starting lineup in April 2009 looks like it did in September 2008. This team is an intermediate team, just like next year's team will be. Chances are that they won't be very good then either. That's no fun for anyone, but the fact is that we're going in to this off-season with Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, Andy LaRoche, and several more high upside players from last year's draft in various places in the system and that puts us light years ahead of where we were at this point last year, which was talking ourselves into Steve Pearce being the second best prospect in the system.