Here we go, steelers! The Pirates are still losing
Last semester, I wrote an article warning Pirates fans not to get their hopes up because this year — like the past 16 — would not be "the year" for Pittsburgh's ball club. The Pirates' stinginess in dealing with players' contracts, whether they be prospects or veterans, would surely be their downfall not only this year, but for years to come.
Well, I was halfway there. I still gave them too much credit.
I'm a Mets fan, which means I have to deal with cheering for a team so depleted by injuries that, on Sunday, the starting lineup included only three players that were on the Opening Day roster. Pirates fans face a similar dilemma: the Pirates also only had three players in Sunday's starting lineup that were in the Opening Day lineup, but for an entirely different reason. Their lineup has been depleted by trades.
One of the topics I'd touched upon in my previous article was the long-term contracts awarded to Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit, young offensive stars for the Pirates last year: "The three-year deals for Doumit and McLouth provide hope that a young, talented core to build a winning franchise around is finally being established, but just wait until their three years are up. If they’ve produced up to expectations, their monetary yearnings will no doubt be out of the Pirates’ and Nutting’s miniscule range." Well, it turns out I was about two and a half years off — while Doumit still dons the black and yellow, McLouth was traded to the Atlanta Braves on June 3 for three prospects, only one of them noteworthy. Calling the move shocking would be an understatement.
"There ain't a guy in here who ain't [ticked] off about it," said then-first baseman Adam LaRoche in an interview with the [ITAL]Pittsburgh Post-Gazette[ITAL]. "If they feel like it's the best move for three or four years from now, great. Unfortunately, that does me no good."
"Wow," added then-second baseman Freddy Sanchez in the report.
But the Pirates weren't done there. On June 30, Nyjer Morgan — another player I'd mentioned as being an integral part of the Pirates' core — was traded alongside pitcher Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for troubled outfielder Lastings Milledge, who is far past his days of being a top prospect, and Joel Hanrahan, a reliever who had struggled so much that he lost his closer role with Washington earlier this year.
Jack Wilson, the longest-tenured Pirate at the time, was slightly put off in an interview with MLB.com about the deal: "We understand that it's a business and that they have to do what they have to do to make the team better. Hopefully it does. I just know there are a lot of people in this clubhouse who aren't going to be here, so we don't care too much about it.... I've been here for nine years and seen these trades two or three times every year and still haven't had a winning season."
Well, Wilson just might be able to have that winning season this year. That's because he was traded a month later to the Seattle Mariners. Sanchez was also traded that day to the San Francisco Giants, while LaRoche was traded a week prior to the Boston Red Sox. Also gone are pitchers Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow, who were traded to the Chicago Cubs.
So, while I was technically right that Doumit, outfielder Andrew McCutchen and first baseman Steve Pearce would be parts of the talented core the Pirates would hopefully build a franchise around, things do not look encouraging for the defending record holders for consecutive losing seasons. There are some silver linings — McCutchen and fellow rookie outfielder Garrett Jones are both having fantastic years right now — but don't worry, folks. They won't be here much longer. The revolving door of players is moving so fast, it'll make your head spin.
So don't get too comfortable.