There are a few things a “typical” Pirate fan believe that I just can not stand. Some of them include overestimating the players currently on the roster, complaining about minor league contracts and the belief that their strategy of improving modestly thereby raising attendance thereby increasing revenue thereby increasing spending is the wrong way to go. However in the end I can deal with all of that but what I can’t deal with is there belief of what has been the biggest culprit for the Pirates 19 years of losing.
There are several common beliefs:
1. The unfair system makes it nearly impossible
2. They trade away all their good players
3. They need to be more aggressive in the free agent market
4. Poor (aka Cheap) Ownership
Believe it or not none of those are a big reason. Yes the system is unfair but that is no excuse for 19 years of losing. No they should not be more aggressive on the free agent market, look at the other two teams in town, what exactly do they due in respect to the free agent market? Not much the average annual value of Barmes contract this off-season is greater than that of any free agent I remember being signed (not resigned) by the Penguins or Steelers. Cheap Ownership can not be entirely dismissed as a factor but in reality it can’t be considered the main reason either.
As of you might have seen I skipped the trade away all their good players; there is a reason for this as this is closest to the truth. Yes it is true the Pirates trade away their good players but that is not a mistake or a reason for the losing streak in fact it is the right thing to do considering the circumstance. The problem with the Pirates is quite plainly the lack of good players in the first place.
I mean just think about that for a second, when people say the Pirates traded all their good players they are talking about Bay, Nady, McLouth, Benson?, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Ian Snell?. One could make an argument about Jose Bautista but he wasn’t a good player, not even close. As we seen with McLouth if the Pirates were to bring these guys back it would not be met with much excitement and remember these were the “good” players.
Yes I know some will say you could acquire better talent via spending in free agency but ok then what you have 2 good players. That is not going to work the Pirates need to develop a core that is all that is to it and in reality this is the case for nearly every team in baseball. Nobody not even the Yankees are going to have a 25 man roster made up of entirely free agents.
The Pirates have failed to develop that core and that is why they have lost for 19 straight seasons. That is not merely bad ownership (remember there have been 3 owners during the streak) or bad management or bad coaching but it is a combination of the 3 mixed in with horrible luck.
There is no quick fix for this. It will take years to properly develop a core from nothing and that is if it is done successfully. The current group is doing a decent job at it but has failed in several areas meaning it will take probably even longer to build the core. Is this acceptable, of course not but it is the reality and there is no way to change or alter this. Free agent spending won’t fix it, a wealthy owner won’t fix it (wealthy people tend to be business savvy and aren’t going to lose money every season), nothing except time, good decisions and yes good luck will do.
Over the last 19 seasons the Pirates biggest obstacle has been a lack of talent and that isn’t because they traded it all away but because they had so little to begin with. That is the bottom line and anyone who believes otherwise just has not been paying attention. The Pirates are currently on the path to building a good core but of course there is a decent distance left to travel and many potholes still await. To be honest it is much more likely this core will fail than it is it will succeed. I hate to tell everyone that but it is true. It is going to take time and a little luck to turn this streak around but most of all it is going to take boatloads of talent, here’s hoping the boats are on their way.