Thursday, July 31, 2008

here we go again: the pirates are sellers at the trade deadline

Once again, the Pirates have unloaded one of their top veteran players in a midseason trade with a contender. This time, they shipped leftfielder Jason Bay, easily the team's best, most visible player this decade, to the Boston Red Sawx. Much of this is not surprising, of course: The Buccos' new management has said from the start that it will try to build from the bottom -- that drafting, scouting and development within its farm system will be paramount to the big club's success. Of course, when you've been hearing that same sort of dribble drivel for as long as Pirates fans have, it has a tendency to go in one ear and out the other. We are, it seems, in Year 16 of an endless 5-Year Plan. But there does seem to be something a bit bolder and forward-thinking about the moves new GM Neal Huntington has made to shore up the shamefully barren system he inherited last fall. The analysis from Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? is cautiously optimistic, concluding as it does with the following dose of reality: "[T]he reason we've been rebuilding for fifteen years is that nobody's actually managed to do it right. Huntington's still got a long ways to go and a tough job ahead of him, but this trade is exactly what he needs to be doing." We shall see.

That said, I want to go on record with this: If the franchise is unable to sign top pick Pedro Alvarez by the Aug. 15 deadline, I hereby renounce them. They will no longer deserve my attention, or my heart. I'm serious about this. The Pirates have been woefully mismanaged for close to two decades now. As stated above, the new regime wants to develop talent in order to win, and I'm fine with that; they deserve a chance to right all the wrongs that were done before they took over. After years of drafting players they knew they could sign, the Pirates did the right thing and got the one they so obviously needed by picking Alvarez. But if they still can't buck up just to get him to report, then there will truly be no hope. There will truly be no need for them to exist as a Major League team. And there will truly be no reason for me to waste my time and energy caring about what they do. Yes, gentle reader, it's come to this: The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the clock with my heart.

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