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Monday, August 10 2020 @ 03:35 pm UTC
Recent observations XII (and Addendum) 9-30-05   
by Stephen Zielinski

Every so often I’ll write a few pertinent — or useless — comments for the Front Page. It keeps me out of trouble. The twelfth installment:

He’s taller, and bigger, and...he’s got a suitable name for a baseball player

Meet Kip Wells. ‘How do you do!’

Next, consider his bona fides. Do so with Littlefield’s eyes. Finally, ponder the fact that the Pirates recently gave Wells two more starts this season but gave Ian Snell only one before shutting him down for the year.

It seems odd, doesn’t it? Wells getting two more starts. Snell is now showing the Federales and Pirates fans that he has adjusted to pitching in the major leagues. Wells, on the other hand, is leading the majors in losses. How might we explain this move? Why would Mackanin put Wells ahead of Snell? Why bench a player who is performing but not one who is floundering? What’s the knock on Snell on Federal Street? Perhaps we ought to reconcile ourselves to the fact that, now that Lloyd McClendon is resting his bones in Indiana, the Pirates have jettisoned his ‘the players make out the lineup card’ method by replacing it with a ‘GM does what he wants’ method. There might be a point to their madness.

What might that point be? To answer that question, one might want to consider the following: Snell’s stuff is at least as good as Kip’s. He has far better command of his pitches than Wells has had this season and can be expected to have in the future. Snell is in better physical shape than everyone else on the team. Snell has never had injury problems in his career. These facts seemingly mean nothing at all to the Federales. Snell is a reliever; Wells is a starter. He’s too small, too fragile and weak to be a starter. Their final position on the matter seems to be this: ‘Ian — do convince us that we’re wrong!’ ‘Prove to us that we don’t know what we are doing!’ ‘Make us look silly to our peers and fans!’

The Federales pulled Snell from the rotation after he had shut out the Astros. What conclusion should we draw from this sequence of events? The Federales believe Snell to be a relief pitcher. We’ve heard this coda applied to Snell’s fine minor league career for a few years now. Interim Manager Pete Mackanin has recently thrown his opinion in with the ‘Snell is a reliever faction.’ Given the whole situation, past Pirates practice and the manner in which they have treated Snell since his recall, we can expect Snell to become a reliever next year or to return to Indianapolis to prove what he has already demonstrated, namely, that he is a talented starting pitcher with a bright future. It’s fate; it’s the Pirates’ way; it’s how the Federales operate.

To put the matter in different terms, I suspect — and thus fear — that the Federales are setting Snell up to receive the J.J. Davis-Chris Shelton-Bronson Arroyo treatment, that they are priming him to fail so that that can do with him what they want. I hope I am wrong about this. I hope that the Federales are only sitting on Snell so that Wells might return to form before the 2006 trading deadline, so that Littlefield can make a trade better than the one he made with the Mets for Kris Benson.

The sweet smell of success

As a Pirate fan, I have adjusted downward my sense of what counts as success for the team. Significantly diminished expectations are one unavoidable effect one must bear while following a McClatchy-led team. (Another is I never have to worry about buying Pirate playoff and World Series tickets. This issue just never comes up.) Currently, my definition of success includes sweeping the Cubs during their final home stand of the year! Getting the number two pick in the 2006 Draft also counts as success of a sort. Sometimes the ‘Drive for 75’ fails, which is a good thing of an ambiguous kind.

Bay Watch

The season is winding down but Jason Bay keeps accumulating the good baseball numbers. He got his 100th RBI yesterday (9.28) after tying the all time record for stolen bases in a season without being caught on Tuesday (9.27). Bay accomplished both against the Cubs. He remains fourth in the Majors in VORP:

Cabrera's attitude, work ethic concern Marlins

According to ESPN.

That’s just terrible — and sad.

I feel for the Marlins’ front office and field manager. I really do. That team has a fine assortment of scrappy veterans. Why, we might wonder, should they have to put up with a scoundrel like Miguel Cabrera? Haven’t they paid their dues? Haven’t they taken a lot of crap to get to where they are in life? Who could tolerate this kid? Cabrera has been so bad that he has greatly bewitched Mckeon. We know this because Trader Jack now talks nonsense and does crazy things with respect to Cabrera:

“He’s only saying that [‘#### the veterans’] because of being benched. He’ll be fine,” McKeon said. “He’ll get over that. He’s a great kid.

“I’ve had no complaints of him since he’s been here with me.”

The Marlins are fortunate in that the Pirates could offer them an exit solution for their Cabrera problem. We know this because the Pirates have become baseball’s trash dump while under McClatchy’s direction. Since justice demands that an ingrate like Miguel Cabrera be traded to a cheap ‘Drive for 75’ team like the Pirates, the McClatchy Pirates being baseball’s gulag, perhaps the Marlins would harden their hearts and cast out the lad by trading him for a mess of our scrappy veterans? The Fins could then load up on the ‘good guys.’ If the Marlins truly love LoDuca, just as the Dodgers did when LoDuca led LA during their glory years, they’ll just go gaga over Jack Wilson and Mackowiak! Meanwhile, Pirate fans would have to suffer through the Cabrera years just like they suffered through the Bonds years. It would be just our bad luck to have a guy like Cabrera on the team.

Doesn’t he have more important matters to settle?

Really. What with an unwinnable and unnecessary counterinsurgency war in Iraq, a war which promises to generate an all-Iraqi civil war and, perhaps, a region-wide conflagration; with a federal deficit growing at a tremendous rate because of that war, the so-called ‘war on terror’ and Bush’s wreck the economy tax cuts; with the expensive natural disasters that have just occurred in the Gulf Coast region of the country; with the criminality rampant in his political party; with the ongoing and long-term export of America’s productive capacity to foreign shores — with these things alone one might expect a serious man — a man like John McCain? — to worry less about trivia like the steroids problem in baseball and more about the deeply seated and dangerous problems the country now faces.

But.... McCain and his kind just can’t help themselves. Like a junkie reaching for a loaded syringe, McCain mechanically indulges his need for a cheap thrill. The man even wants to be president.

It takes some real but witless work to make Barry Bonds a sympathetic character. But, there you are.

Perhaps it is ‘sound-bite John’ that just doesn’t get it.



Sigh: Royals Sign Alex Gordon.

If wishes reflected facts in the world I could write with far more tact than I do....

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