The major league baseball deadline has passed and many teams have positioned themselves for the stretch run. The Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, and a few other teams, have made acquisitions they hope will put them over the top and into the playoffs. But, there are also so teams who did not position themselves well. They have completely shredded their team by not getting enough in return for the players they dealt. Or maybe they just didn’t make a deal and should have. For me, the Pittsburgh Pirates really have dropped the ball and owe their fans an apology.
This all started last year at the trading deadline last year. Actually, in truth, you could say it started at the end of the 1992 season when the Atlanta Braves knocked off the Pirates in a dramatic Game seven of the NLCS. Perhaps when Sid Bream slid into home plate, he literally kicked the life out of the Pirates’ organization because since that game the Pirates have yet to contend. Last year, they traded outfielders Jason Bay and Xavier Nady at or near the deadline, and earlier this year they traded outfielder Nate McLouth and first baseman Adam LaRoche. At the deadline this year they traded away longtime fan favorite in shortstop Jack Wilson, starting pitcher Ian Snell, second baseman Freddy Sanchez, and rehabbing starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny (who Sports Geek and I have seen start a game in person… and pitch well) and reliever John Grabow. In fact, only one player is left in the starting eight (minus the pitcher) from Opening Day last year and that is catcher Ryan Doumit. With the way things are going up in the Steel City, he better not be getting too comfortable.
Yes, it’s true that they unloaded a lot of salary and they unloaded some players that either had fallen out of favor within the organization (Snell) or had struggled offensively on the field (Wilson). But, Wilson has long been a fan favorite of Pirates fans (which are dwindling… see attendance figures. That’s a shame because PNC Park is a beautiful baseball stadium. Sanchez was perhaps the most recognizable name on that team. Without him, the casual baseball fan possibly couldn’t name a single player on the Pirates team today.
Even more frustrating for a Pirate fan is the fact that this team has been in rebuilding mode for quite some time now. I’m all for rebuilding when it is necessary, but how much rebuilding actually has to take place before something actually gets built? How long do Pirates fans have to suffer? Remember the early 1990’s when the Pirates made the NLCS three straight years with a young and significantly smaller left fielder named Barry Bonds? Those days are long gone!
As a baseball fan, and someone who sympathizes with Pirates fans, I really hope the city of Pittsburgh has a winning baseball team to support. But from the looks of things, the rebuilding cycle is going to be stuck on repeat.