Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday Pirates Rant™ - I’m Back, Baby!

After weeks of half-assed, “I know they suck, but I don’t want to complain too much because they’re not actually doing that badly since the division sucks so much” Rants™, I finally have some fantastic Rant™ material! Hooray! Let’s get started!


This week? Nothing.


The MLB Amateur Draft was last week. The Pirates, with their usual spot in the Top 5, swore in the weeks leading up to the draft that money and “signability” were not obstacles—that the Pirates would select the best player available. It was determined that the two best players for the Pirates would be high school 3B Josh Vitters (the new David Wright!) or Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters. One of those two would likely be available to the Pirates, but probably not both.

At the very least, we could assume that David Littlefield, being the General Manager of a Major League Baseball team, would not be stupid enough to draft another college pitcher in the first round, being that a) their offense stinks, b) they officially have two good-hitting prospects in their entire minor league system, and c) their #1 picks in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2006 were all college pitchers who have, since their selection, needed reconstructive arm surgery.

Before the draft started on Thursday, a poster named Vlad made this comment at Bucs Dugout (with the subject line of “Blah”):

They aren't going to take the best available player (Wieters), and they aren't going to take the best non-Boras guy [i.e. player not represented by uber-agent Scott Boras] (Heyward), either.

It's really hard to care about this team, when they aren't even going to put forth a modicum of effort.

I've been operating under the assumption all along that they're going to take [Clemson pitcher Dan] Moskos, since he's the best combination of low ceiling and high risk out of all the top picks. We'll see whether I'm right.
Pishaw, I said. Vlad is surely just some cynical internet fan who is assuming the worst. The Pirates said money is not an option! They will select the best player available!

(Okay, I didn’t really say or think that. I feared the worst just like everybody else.)

Well...Josh Vitters was selected by the Cubs at #3, leaving Matt Wieters on the table for the Pirates, who selected...Dan Moskos of Clemson, a low-ceiling, left-handed RELIEF PITCHER, who was ranked the #9 PITCHER in the draft by MinorLeagueBall.com. Rare is an organization who lives down to your most cynical expectations on a regular basis. You can’t even make a sarcastic joke about something because it might come true. Granted, they hadn’t lived this far down to expectations since last year’s epic trade deadline display, but...low ceiling and high risk? Sounds like the 4th-best player in the draft to me! Even Littlefield’s justification, “We got the guy we want, really,” sounds Baghdad Bob-esque.

Oh, and then Moskos pitched on ESPN the next day in a Super Regional game against Mississippi State...and got shelled (5 1/3 innings, 6 runs).

And the worst part was, I was almost rooting for it to happen. SOMETHING has to get Littlefield fired, right? No? How about the fact that the Pirates are now 11 games under .500 in the worst division in baseball? No? His job is still safe? How? And better yet, how can I get a job under the Nutting/McClatchy ownership? You almost literally have to kill somebody to get fired. No amount of failure will do the trick.

As for the team that is actually currently taking the field...

* The Pirates, for the second time in two tries, got swept at Yankee Stadium this weekend. Awesome.

* Jack Wilson has gone from elite defender to defensive liability in the last couple of years. That, or he’s just gotten a big case of Pirateitis, which overtakes everybody who wears the Pirates jersey for too many years. His play in the field was so bad on Saturday that even Jim Tracy, who rarely actually holds players accountable for poor play or effort, benched Wilson for Sunday’s game.

* Catcher Ronnie Paulino was ALSO benched for lazy play over the weekend. It’s contagious.

* The bullpen took a massive hit this weekend when Salomon Torres, who despite his horribly up-and-down play is still by far the Pirates’ 2nd-best reliever, got put on the DL with arm troubles. Nothing serious, but he’ll still miss a few weeks.

* With new closer Matt Capps sitting out four upcoming games due to a suspension and Torres on the DL, the likely new closer is Jonah Bayliss, current owner of a 7.15 ERA.

Actually, let’s just wrap this up...

* The entire team can’t hit.

* The entire team can’t field.

* The entire team can’t run bases correctly.

The end.

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