Sunday, January 09, 2005

Ten Questions

Trev calls for other Pirate bloggers to answer Dejan Kovacevic's questions in this week's Pirates Q+A in the Post-Gazette. Since there aren't any big news stories today, I'll play along.

1. Who deserves most of the blame for the Pirates' inability to win since moving into PNC Park?

Kevin McClatchy or whoever is pulling the strings right now, for being cheap and risk-averse.

2. When you see young players excel, as have Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Jose Castillo, Jack Wilson and Mike Gonzalez, do you find reason for hope? Or do you just picture how they will look in another uniform?

Jose Castillo hasn't done anything yet in the majors. But to answer the question, my answer is neither one - the Pirates will have all these guys through what should be their best years. The problem is not that these guys will leave, but that the Pirates won't have enough talent to build a good team while they're here.

3. For old-timers only: Can you recall any Pirates player between Ralph Kiner and Perez who single-handedly drew Pittsburgh fans to the ballpark?

I'm not an old-timer.

4. What are your choices for Dave Littlefield's best and worst personnel moves in his tenure? This does not have to be limited to trades. It also can be an internal move (keeping Castillo in the majors last year, Rule 5 fiasco, drafting Neil Walker, whatever).

Best: the Brian Giles and Todd Ritchie transactions. Worst: All the others.

5. In your mind, which prospect in the organization who has yet to appear in a major-league game has the greatest potential?

I'd say Zach Duke and Neil Walker have the highest upsides, but my choice of Walker has more to do with his youth than anything he's shown on the diamond. I think Duke is the Pirates' best prospect.

6. If Major League Baseball shut down for a full season or more when its current Basic Agreement expires in a couple of years, and you had reason to believe that the end result would be a salary-cap system, how would you react during the work stoppage?

I don't know what Kovacevic is thinking here, but among Pirates fans, a certain logic often underpins questions like these:

A. The Pirates stink;
B. The Pirates spend less money than other franchises; therefore,
C. The Pirates would not stink if they spent as much money as other franchises.

The conclusion does not follow from the premises. While being in a small market probably puts the Pirates at a disadvantage (I say "probably" because we really don't know, since the Pirates won't open their books), lots of small-market teams find ways to succeed. The Pirates haven't. Their last general manager was awful, and their current one is probably worse. The people who are running the Pirates right now don't deserve success, and money has nothing to do with it. If the Pirates had more money, they'd probably just be throwing $25 million at Jaret Wright or something.

8. Who should start in center field? For that matter, what should the outfield look like? Feel free to throw in a free agent you think the Pirates should sign or acquire through trade. But be realistic. No Beltran.

I have no idea. The situation is a mess. Whatever the Pirates decide, Jason Bay and Craig Wilson should be playing every day. Matt Lawton will also probably play every day he's healthy; his defense is terrible, but he should be respectable on offense. Wilson can play either first or in the outfield, and I don't suppose it matters much to me whether Tike Redman or Daryle Ward has to ride the bench. If Ward or Graham Koonce shows anything in spring training, I'd let one of them play first and have an outfield of Wilson-Bay-Lawton. It would be an awful defensive outfield, but at least the Pirates would score occasionally, and it's not as if Redman has been fantastic on defense anyway.

9. How do you feel about the Pirates' decision to delay signing Perez to a long-term contract? Is it a needless risk that could cost the team money in the long run? Or a shrewd show of patience?

It's probably a moot point - Perez won't be with the Pirates any longer than he has to be.

10. A purely selfish one: What would you like to see in the Post-Gazette's coverage of the Pirates in 2005?

In the past, some of the Post-Gazette's coverage has almost seemed like it has come from within the organization rather than from outside it. I would like for the coverage to be more objective. I also second Trev's wish for more draft coverage.

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