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Friday, June 23 2017 @ 08:41 am UTC
Upcoming 40-Man Roster Decisions  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

As major league teams move into the late-season playoff drive and the Pirates sink further and further into their accustomed irrelevance, there’s little for Pirate fans to do beyond debating trades and looking toward next year. With that in mind, one matter that’ll get some attention in the off-season is the 40-man roster. The Pirates don’t have much high-end talent, as usual, but they have more depth than in past years. There’ll be fewer placeholders occupying roster spots, so there’ll be some actual competition for spots taking place over the last couple months of the Pirates’ season and the last month of the minor league season.
The Case for Jack Wilson  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

I’ve been cynical for years about defense-oriented team-building philosophies. They usually seemed more like an excuse to avoid paying good hitters, or to cling to the deadball-era cliches that appeal so much to some baseball people. Some of this stems from years of the Pirates using supposedly poor defense as a reason to bury players they disliked. Refusing to use Craig Wilson at first due to his glove and then bringing in Randall Simon springs to mind.
Minor League Preview: West Virginia  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

The Pirates’ new low class A affiliate, West Virginia, figures to have mostly the same strengths and weaknesses as Lynchburg in 2009. The infield will boast some promising players as well as some depth, but the outfield will be full of question marks and the pitching could be a serious problem.
Minor League Preview: Lynchburg  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

There’s good news and bad news for the Hillcats this year. The bad news is that they’ll probably be hit hard by the miserable scouting done by Dave Littlefield and his band of bozos. The good news is that they’ll probably open the season with Pedro Alvarez on the roster, although hopefully he won’t be there long. The infield should be in good shape, and not just due to Alvarez, but the rest of the team could be a mess.
Minor League Preview: Altoona  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

Unlike Indianapolis, which will benefit from Neal Huntington’s efforts to increase the upper level depth in the system, Altoona may suffer from the gaping hole in the middle of the farm system left by the poor drafts and non-existent international scouting efforts of Huntington’s predecessor. The Curve will have some interesting hitters, but their pitching could be a problem.
Minor League Preview: Indianapolis  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

I thought I’d do the minor league previews a little earlier this year. One reason is that the Pirates have more talent in the system than they’ve had for some time, so there’s some real competition for roster spots in spring training. The battles will mainly be among position players, especially in class A, because except for AAA the pitching in the system remains desperately thin. We'll see in a few weeks how accurate my projections are.

First up, Indianapolis.
Littlefield's Ghost  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

In the January 6 entry on his blog at the Post-Gazette, Dejan Kovacevic reprints a letter from a season ticket holder to the Pirates explaining why he’s decided not to renew for 2009. The fan’s primary stated reason is the trades of Jason Bay and Xavier Nady. Kovacevic then adds:

“All I will add to this is that anyone who fails to see the importance of winning in 2009 -- or some of the intangible impact of the Jason Bay trade -- also fails to understand that the true lifeblood of any sports franchise is its season-ticket base. That is not hyperbole. Nor is it pandering to those among you readers who might fit this category. It is cold, hard fact. Without the people who care the most being on board, nothing else matters.”
Grading the GM  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

With nothing going on in the Pirate baseball world, this seems like a good time to grade Neal Huntington on his first year as the team’s GM. I tried to break things down into logical portions of the baseball operations. I’ve made no attempt to distinguish Huntington from Frank Coonelly and John Russell, so if you think one of those two should get credit or blame for some of the things discussed below, feel free to assign responsibility as you see fit.
Upcoming Roster Issues  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

With the Pirates’ remaining September games holding their usual lack of interest, the minor league season over, and the Pedro Alvarez situation likely to drag on for at least several more months, what is there to do except take an updated look at the Pirates’ 40-man roster and possible off-season moves? Or transition to the Steelers . . . .
The Credibility Gap  View Printable Version 
By Wilbur Miller

After signing Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates have a credibility gap? Sure they do, and it’s growing. Not in a bad way, though. The gap is between the new regime and the people they replaced. Pirate fans have grown cynical for a reason. Kevin McClatchy and Dave Littlefield maintained for years that they were committed to building up the farm system, but we can see now that they made no sincere effort to do so. When they ventured into Latin America, it wasn’t to sign real prospects; you know, those sixteen-year-old kids who take years to reach the majors, if they ever do, and who attract no attention among all but the most hardcore fans. Instead it was to make a PR splash with Yoslan Herrera and Serguey Linares, at best fringe prospects who supposedly could be in the majors soon and who had the attention-getting title of “Cuban defectors.” When Littlefield maintained he would take the best player available in the 2007 draft, he proceeded to do just the opposite.