First Pitch: Are the Pirates Starting to Become a Model Organization in Baseball?

A few years ago, you were in the minority if you said the Pittsburgh Pirates were well-run and heading in the right direction. They were spending a lot of money to build up their farm system, and they were showing early signs of making smart moves on the trade and free agent markets. But they hadn’t won yet, and there were questions about whether they could take that next step and become a contender.

Now you’re in the minority if you think the Pirates aren’t well-run. There definitely are those people out there, which is no surprise. You’re going to get every opinion possible when you talk about a fan base that has millions of fans. Here’s a place you aren’t hearing that opinion: the national media.

It would be no surprise at this point to say that Buster Olney gave the Pirates high praise. He ranked them the fifth best team in baseball, after ranking them among the top ten in a lot of categories. Today, Olney wrote about “the well-run Pittsburgh Pirates” and about how they have a lot of offensive depth (the article is Insider only). I wrote a similar article about the subject last week, looking at how strong the bench will be this year.

Olney pointed out a lot of the options the Pirates have to back up each position, and all of them are strong. At almost every position, if a player goes down with an injury or under-performs, the Pirates have someone who definitely belongs in the majors, and who could easily be justified as a replacement starter. He also brought up an interesting scenario when talking about Russell Martin’s departure.

“Martin has moved on, but the Pirates took something away from that experience. Martin loves to play as much as possible, having had seasons earlier in his career in which he appeared in more than 150 games. But the Pirates thought he was a better player last season partly because he rested more.

It figures that with his deep roster, Hurdle will give more rest to his regulars, giving Walker a breather, or Marte, or perhaps protect Polanco against a tough left-hander on a given day (he could start Harrison in right and use Rodriguez at third).”

I wrote about something similar this week, looking at how the modern trend is to give players a day off and take caution with injuries, rather than playing every day. That article was more about playing through injuries, but the extra rest angle fits in. The Pirates have guys on their bench who either have been starters in previous years, or could be starters in the future. They don’t necessarily have to wait for an injury or poor performance to get those guys in the game. They could afford to give their starters time off this year, without having to worry about the typical dreadful “Sunday afternoon lineup” that we’ve seen from the bench in previous years when the starters get a break.

And that brings me to the most interesting thing Olney said about the Pirates: they’re becoming the Cardinals. No, they don’t have the annoying fans that talk about how they are the best fans the game has ever seen, before proceeding to pull the covers over their heads to smell their own farts all night. This is something better.

“Year by year, the Pirates take on the shape of the St. Louis Cardinals, who have been the model for Plan Bs over the past 15 years, with veterans and young players stepping in seamlessly when needed.”

The Cardinals have benefitted from a strong bench over the last few years. For example, having Matt Adams off the bench in 2013 was huge for them. The Pirates haven’t had that big bat off the bench in recent years, up until last year. Josh Harrison and Travis Snider really stepped up, with Harrison earning a starting spot, and Snider having what could be a second half breakout.

This year, Snider will return on the bench, joined by Corey Hart, Sean Rodriguez, and Jung Ho Kang. Hart and Rodriguez fall into the “former starter” category, while Kang is an unknown. The potential from this group, with Snider included, could easily rival what the Cardinals have had in recent years.

And that’s not even mentioning the depth in the farm system, which is just starting to spill over into the major leagues. The pitching in the upper levels includes Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Adrian Sampson, and Tyler Glasnow, with the first three having a shot at making it to the majors in 2015. Top position player prospects like Alen Hanson and Elias Diaz could arrive in 2015 as well. Josh Bell projects to follow them in 2016. Then there are guys like Mel Rojas, Keon Broxton, and Andrew Lambo, who could be strong bench players, or possibly a starter as an injury replacement.

The Pirates are absolutely loaded with depth this year, as Olney writes. Looking at what they’ve got in the farm system, that depth doesn’t look to be a one-year deal. This looks like just the start of a team that could be one of the strongest teams in the NL for several years.

Two years ago if you said the Pirates were on the right track to contending, you might have been in the minority, and you might have been seen as crazy. I don’t know if the same is true right now about the following statement, but in two more years it wouldn’t surprise me if the Pirates are soon recognized as the new “model for Plan Bs”, as Olney puts it.

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top Prospects: #12 – Adrian Sampson. Speaking of depth, Sampson ranks third of the three pitchers I mentioned above who could arrive in 2015, and that’s not a knock on him. It wasn’t that long ago that a guy like Sampson would have been the best pitching prospect in the system, and looked at as one of the best future pitchers in the major league rotation. Now? If all goes well, he would barely squeeze in as the fifth best starter in the future rotation.

**The top 20 prospects will continue tomorrow with the 11th best prospect in the system, then will resume on Monday. For the full list now, plus the complete top 50, all 200+ prospect profiles, and everything else you want to know about the farm system, order the 2015 Prospect Guide.

**Starling Marte Ranks Near the Top Among All Left Fielders. It’s not just the depth. Marte was ranked the fourth best left fielder by MLB Network. Last week they ranked Mercer the sixth best shortstop and Andrew McCutchen the top center fielder. That depth is backing up a pretty strong team.

** Names Reese McGuire Among Top Catching Prospects. Elias Diaz didn’t make the list, and didn’t get an honorable mention. He’s the guy of the immediate future, possibly making a debut this year. Long-term, McGuire looks to be the catcher of the future in Pittsburgh.

**I’ve been working on some behind the scenes stuff on the site this week. Monday I posted a survey, asking what you want to see in the future. Last night I posted our job openings for the 2015 season. I also talked with a few of our returning writers today, and am really looking forward to the upcoming season. From the surveys, one of the things you guys said you loved was our extensive coverage of the farm system, which makes sense, as the site name is Pirates Prospects, and that’s our number one focus. I’m excited about the prospect coverage this year after speaking with several of our prospect writers this afternoon. As for the coverage before the season, I’ve done a ton of interviews over the last week, and will start rolling out articles tomorrow, spreading them out over the next few weeks until Spring Training begins.

**Pirates Will Play the Cardinals on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball This Year

**Pirates Release 2014 Draft Pick Michael Clemens

First Pitch

  • The “Cards” reference is interesting, given that there are 29 other teams available to compare the Pirates to.
    I don’t see them as similar, other than the results. The Pirates don’t rush players, especially pitchers through the system like the Cards do, the Cards are most impatient with their major league talent, they have to produce much quicker than the Pirates talent has to or they go back or get moved. The Cards almost always carry an ace on their pitching staff, a staff that goes primarily from 1-4, the Pirates starting staff is mostly made up of 3’s, but no Ace. The Cards will trade good players off for prospects or to fill positions of need, the Pirates have not done that yet. I am talking about this era Bucs, not the first couple years when Neal was dumping players just to get rid of them. You can bet if the Cards did not have Wainwright, they would have gone after a Sherzer type, that won’t happen with the Pirates.

    • I am more in agreement with that assessment leadoff.

    • The ace is why stl has rings and the buccos will end up ringless unless cole achieves wainwright levels

      • The difference is the Cards would not wait for Cole to become an ace, they would have acquired a Sherzer type, the Pirates will wait on Cole.

        • “the Pirates will wait on Cole.” this should read the Pirates “have” to wait on Cole. There is a huge gap in revenue between the franchises, its silly to criticize the Bucs for not doing something they cannot do. Besides Wainwright was acquired in trade, underwent TJ, then late in his career became and ace. The Bucs can have similar luck, some would point directly to Liriano who has been flat out dominant in long stretches.

          • It’s definitely more of a challenge for the front office to take on a lester type deal. . It would require the lineup to be filled with high valued contracts similar to marte’s/cutches.. I’m not sure many outside of bucco nation put liriano on that level though

          • I don’t think anyone is criticizing the Bucs, just making a point.

        • Then why didn’t the Cardinals go after Lester or Scherzer ? Everybody in MLB knows Wainright’s elbow is a real question mark at this time. And both Wacha’s health and Martinez’s command are too unpredictable to really count on. They have the money.

          • They sign/trade for another ace

            • Maybe next year. They make their share of mistakes.

              • They do.. they also have more revenue to cover up those mistakes.. they’ll end up trading with the nats this year

                • Hard to imagine the Nats making a trade that strengthens the Cards, even if the trade strengthens them. There’s 27 other teams that they’s trade with rather than the Cards or the Pirates.

  • I knew I should’ve trademarked “WWStLD” when I had the chance 🙂

    On the following:

    And that brings me to the most interesting thing Olney said about the
    Pirates: they’re becoming the Cardinals. No, they don’t have the
    annoying fans that talk about how they are the best fans the game has
    ever seen, before proceeding to pull the covers over their heads to
    smell their own farts all night. This is something better.

    “Year by year, the Pirates take on the shape of the St.
    Louis Cardinals, who have been the model for Plan Bs over the past 15
    years, with veterans and young players stepping in seamlessly when

    If the Pirates keep this up for an entire generation, don’t think for one minute the fanbase won’t be capable and willing to smell their own farts. We are home to the Steelers, whose fanbase farts loud and often and loves the smell of it.

    The one thing the Bucs still have to prove to me is how well they sustain this success five years from now when all the former high 1st rounders are gone. In 2020 we’ll still have Marte and probably Taillon/Glasnow, McGuire and probably Bell. Doubtful anyone else on the 40-man is still with the team. In the interim the Bucs have depth… can they keep that going without a stud like Cutch? Can the Bucs, like the Cards, consistently get value out of mid-round picks? Will the Bucs be able to afford a high pick “miss” (e.g. Pete Kozma)? What value does Connor Joe have as trade bait? Etc. etc.

    • Excellent post, all around.

    • So your concerned that a lineup of:

      CF A. Meadows
      2nd A. Hansen
      RF G. Polanco
      LF S. Marte
      1B J. Bell

      3B J. Jones
      SS C. Tucker
      C R. McGuire

      • Swap Marte and Meadows. And the rotation needs a LHP. Other than that, looks good to me.

        • Marte doesn’t take pitches well, he has to think too much. He is much better at just trying to hit the first good pitch he sees. That is why he blossomed in the 5 hole in 2H2014. I could see Marte hitting 3, 4 or 5 six years from now. But better have either Meadows, Polanco or Hansen in leadoff. I agree about the LHP though. We just don’t have a candidate in the system now. A great LHP would be a good #1 draft pick next Summer if everything were to work out and that was the best player available.

          • I should have been more specific, I meant in the field. If Cutch moves on, Marte should get the chance to move over to CF before Meadows. Unless Meadows is actually better than Marte in the field, which would be tremendous .

          • We have Cody Dickson.

            • Hmm. You are right, I forgot about Cody. Could be a long shot, seems more likely to be a candidate for the pen. I was thinking more along the lines of a future Mad Bum.

      • Why wouldn’t I be concerned about that lineup?

        • I realize nothing is guaranteed, but if you’re assuming that’s the lineup, then all those prospects have, by definition, succeeded. I don’t think Piraddict is saying that those guys are gonna be the lineup of the future regardless of whether they stink or not. The idea is that if they reach the majors and become what the scouts think they can become, then it’s a pretty good lineup.

          • Bingo Steve!

            But let’s do a thought experiment and look an equivalent length of time backwards. In January, 2010 only the following players on today’s active roster were in the system (let’s construct a hypothetical lineup):

            1: 3B Harrison A+
            2: RF Polanco DSL
            3: CF Cutch MLB
            4: 2B Walker AAA/MLB
            5: LF Marte A-
            6: 1B Alvarez AA
            7: SS Mercer A+
            8: C Sanchez A-

            1: Morton MLB
            2: Locke A+
            3: Watson (now relief) AA
            4: None
            5: None

            Management has obviously done a good job of building today’s rotation from not much to start with, and needed to replace Sanchez with Cervelli, but I would argue that today’s future prospects have a better, more projectable future based on the universe of scouting projections than the prospects that were available in 2010 that resulted in today’s team that in generally expected to be a playoff contender with a shot at the World Series. To me this builds a case for optimism, not pessimism. But everybody thinks differently.

          • I’m not assuming that would be the lineup. In fact, I’ll guarantee it won’t be. But Piraddict put it out there and I responded.

            My point is that it’s still early in the process, even seven years into it. The Bucs have only drafted in the bottom ten picks once. And the result was Cole Tucker, whom few are overly excited about. And Connor Joe as 1a, whom few people even understand.

            This has a ways to play out yet. Yes, given the talent and years of control remaining for the top prospects currently in the system, the Bucs should be able to manipulate payroll to remain competitive over the next 5-6 years. But what about after that… that’s where the Cards have excelled and the Pirates are yet unproven.

            • I understand you’re not buying the underlying premise that all those guys that Piraddict says are gonna be the lineup, are gonna pan out and make the lineup. But his or her original question posits a hypothetical where it’s a given that those guys would be the lineup. You then responded with “Why wouldn’t I be concerned with that lineup?” To me that indicates you understand the nature of the hypothetical and have some reservation with the guys on the list, i.e., that some or all of them are not that good and you wouldn’t want them on your roster in the first place.

              Remember back in school when you were asked “Given fact X or Y, explain…?” I think this was one of those kinds of questions.

              I guess a more precise phrasing of the original thought is something like: “If these prospects on the lineup all pan out– which we all know is some serious long odds, but play along for a bit– would you be worried about the lineup then?” I wouldn’t; there’s a lot of talent at multiple positions there.

            • Me loves me some cole tucker sir.. i’ll take two

        • In theory, besides Marte and maybe Polanco, all of those prospects will be making minimum salaries. The payroll with the lineup as piraddict constructed would be like 60 or 70 million, leaving probably 40 to 60 million to spend on free agents or trade acquisition’s. So, while you’re right that not all prospects succeed, those that don’t make it can be replaced by a quality free agent or trade acquisition.
          Of those listed, I think Tucker and Jones are probably the biggest risks to not at least make it to the majors. The others look pretty good to make it and sure, maybe Kingham and Sampson end up being no better than 5th starters, the Pirates could go out and sign guys of Liriano, Burnett or Volquez quality.

        • If we’re assuming players aren’t signed then we should account for the prospects/players received in a trade. . It’s reasonable to assume those prospects are near major league ready

        • Chances are great that in the intervening six years Management will be able to add additional talent as needed through free agency, the international market or the draft. That was implied when I said “Seems like if one considers management’s proven capacity to adapt to circumstances”.

    • Polanco will still be here as well. That’s a big one.

  • Let the Pirates win a few championships and see how insufferable we get as fans.

  • Lee Foo Young
    January 23, 2015 8:31 am

    I love it!

  • Tim: The Pirates have become the model franchise due to some very sharp drafting, International signings, ability to find hidden pitching talent for near nothing in the FA Market, and a deft touch in the art of the trade. All of this makes us very appreciative. The future is strong, and the Pirates are one of the few teams that does not have to seek high priced FA Pitchers – this year should prove to be revealing as to how deep the Pitching depth will be going forward. You mentioned Keon Broxton and Andrew Lambo. Difficult for me to see either with a path to the majors because I think they have aged out as prospects – Broxton is still at AA and will be 25 in 2015, and Lambo will be in his age 27 season, and nobody is sure of his position on defense. With Pedro hopefully getting a full look at 1B in 2015 and Josh Bell as the future at 1B, Andrew is left out in the cold unless he plays the OF and that is even a more remote possibility.

    • Lambo is an injury away from being a contributor. The Pirates roster may seem to be set right now without Lambo, but injuries will pop up. If Polanco, Snider, Alvarez, or Hart were to go down, I would think Lambo would be the first one up. Lambo may not be considered a prospect anymore, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a spot in the majors.

      • If *one* of those guys goes down, then Lambo is *still* just the backup. I think an extreme convergence of circumstance would have to occur within the Pirates org for Lambo to get an extended chance to prove himself at this point.

        • Didn’t Josh Harrison prove last year that anything is possible given the opportunity?

          • That’s precisely my point.

            It took the convergence of Harrison’s ability to play four positions, plus three years and about 600 PA of big league experience on top of up to six other Pirates players either getting injured or failing in order for Harrison to break out.

            Anything is possible, sure. And I absolutely think Andrew Lambo will get another big league opportunity. I just think it is unlikely to come with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

        • like happened a few years ago with our catchers?

          • And how often do 1st Basemen and right fielders get injured at that rate?

            • All is takes is for Pedro to get hurt, and Lambo becomes 1/2 of the firstbase platoon. He won’t need 6 players to hit the DL to get an opportunity.

              • You could be correct, Ron.

                The team doesn’t give me the impression that would happen, though. Travis Ishikawa sucked last year, and the team turned to Ike Davis. Ike Davis sucked last year, and the team turned Pedro into a 1B *mid season*. Gaby Sanchez sucked last year, and continued getting at-bats.

                I could be totally off base, but seems to me like there were more than ample opportunities last season to give Lambo a chance, and it didn’t happen. The 2015 team is even deeper.

                I hope for Lambo’s sake he gets a chance.

                • Lambo also had bad timing with injuries when opportunities presented

                  • He did not have any injuries in ST when they gave him a very good shot, sometimes players only get one shot, it looks like his next shot is going to come with another team or with a catastrophic injury, he is way down the outfield depth chart and was not even playing 1st base at Indy. True his minor league numbers scream for a chance:

                    • Was he that poor with his footwork at 1b? It is difficult to imagine him getting that opportunity now.. tonymontana may get his shot before lambo if the open is at 1b

                    • I am convinced the Pirates have no clue when it comes to 1st base, they had Morneau in the bag and did not know what they had, I think they look at 1st base like the fans do, just somewhere to stick someone.

                • If Lambo wouldn’t have been injured at exactly the wrong time, he would have been called up prior to the trade for Davis. Short term memory seems to be a problem ?

                  • And how do you explain the club turning to Alvarez, who wasn’t exactly lighting it up at the plate and never once played the position?

                    • Development of players when the pennant is on the line

                    • And explain to me how that won’t apply this year as well?

                    • Ya.. this will end up a debate whether game 150 has more value then game 50.. not really interested in that one sir.. I just think there’s preferred times to gain information on players abilities.. I can’t disprove the notion that a win is a win

                    • Why don’t you ask Mike Rizzo and Matt Williams that question when they put Ryan Zimmerman at 1st base on OD with Scherzer on the mound ?

                    • If I have to explain it to you, you haven’t been paying attention the past couple of seasons. And I know you have been.

                    • The only explanation I would come up with has to do with the number 88.

            • well hart has glass knees, and is a question mark? will his knees hold up? pedro hurt his achilles, last year and status is unknown. prolly ok but has been known to end carreers. so theres 1 position in my mind that is on thin ice. not to mention i question pedro’s mental status. we had a glut of injuries once it could happen again.

      • IMO, depends on which one of these guys goes down, if Snider goes down, it probably will be Tabata. If Alvarez goes down or can’t play the position, who knows!

        • I don’t think Tabata ever wears a Pirates uniform again. IMO, Mel Rojas Jr. gets the call before Tabata does.

          • Neither Tabata or Rojas are on the 40 man, so a quick temp call up could be anyone, but a long term injury to a guy like Snider would mean IMO that the Pirates would put someone like Tabata back on the 40 and call him up. He is more logical than Rojas, he has MLB experience, hits well and gets paid a lot. I don’t think the Pirates have as big of a problem with Tabata’s attitude as the media and now some of the fans, also Hurdle does seem to have his favorites and I think it is safe to say Tabata is not one of Hurdles favorites.

            • If the Pirates didn’t have a problem with Tabata, he wouldn’t have been removed from the 40 man, TWICE. I really don’t see the Pirates going down the Tabata road again. He is dead weight and that contract is the only thing keeping him in the organization. I won’t be surprised to see Tabata in Japan before the start of the 2016 season.

              • The contract isn’t keeping him in the organization. They can flat-out let him go at any moment.

                If the organization truly didn’t ever plan on using him again, and his attitude is actually as bad as everyone says, why did they invite him to spring training? Why is he taking up a roster spot in Indy?

                • Hey. I agree with you 🙂 the buccos took him off the 40 cause they could, without losing him.. not valuing him at his current salary isn’t the same as dead weight

                • Are there any players he’s blocking in Indy? Not until players like Harold Ramirez or Willy Garcia move up. The Pirates are forced to pay him, so why would they just let him go? If it were as simple as releasing him, I’m sure that move would have been made already.

                  And since you like to ask so many questions, I’ll answer one of yours with a question. If Tabata was in the Pirates plans AT ALL, why did they remove him from the 40 man, AGAIN, when there were many other candidates who could have came off. Perfect example, Jaff Decker.

                  • The reason he is removed as opposed to a guy like Decker is his salary. The team can freely remove Tabata from the 40 man roster knowing that no team will claim him when he is DFA because of his contract. A team might claim Dacker because he is making peanuts and they have a need for a 5th OF/ depth in AAA. There is no reason to risk losing a guy, no matter how little losing him matters, when you can easily move another guy that no team will take.

                  • I can answer your question as to why they removed him. The reason they removed him was because they could remove him and not have to worry about anyone else grabbing him due to the amount of his contract. If they release Decker, someone would have surely picked him up, the way they did it they now have both Decker and Tabata. Don’t kid yourself, Tabata is a good ballplayer, just is not going to get a chance to play in Pit because of the overwhelming outfield talent and too expensive to trade.

                  • Jack and leadoff nailed it.

                    And it actually *is* just as simple as releasing him. They could do it this very moment if they wanted to.

  • “The Plan” worked. Those with patience were rewarded. (Those without patience were rewarded too, but many still won’t enjoy the reward.)

    • When I saw the team jump from 55 to 79 wins in two years, with the stockpile of talent in the minors then, I knew “The Plan” (this front office) had the PBC heading in the right direction.

      RIght now, of the starting eight, only 3B (Harrison) and C (Cervelli) came from outside the organization. As the article implied, there’s every reason to believe the starting 5 will be mostly “home grown”.

      The next steps are within reach this year: to win the division, and make the World Series.

    • The funny thing is that “The Plan” has arguably been a failure up to this point.

      The Pirates big league success to this point has been due to *Major League* scouting, analytics, and coaching. They simply wouldn’t have been close to being as successful without Burnett, Liriano, Martin, Melancon, Hanrahan, etc.

      If the drafting and development – under Huntington – start producing as much as St. Louis gets out of their system, then I don’t see any reason the Pirates couldn’t be just as successful over the long run, not just a window.

      • I think the analysts and leveraging market inefficiencies have always been ‘the plan’.

        • I said arguably because “The Plan” was obviously never a concrete doctrine. But I don’t think it’s debatable that for the first four years or so of the Huntington era the focus was exclusively on building through drafts/int’l signings and trading aging big leaguers for prospects. How many times did we hear about drafting pitchers and trading them for hitters when the need arises?

          If leveraging market inefficiencies – in the ways that have actually paid off – was *always* part of the plan, then I wish they would’ve started doing it sooner.

          • getting the right coaches/players in place to buy into the analysts takes time.. I’m sure there was a plan for player acquisition, but the plan to separate themselves from other small market teams was identifying market inefficiencies. . The ‘win’ has been how well the coaches & front office communicate.. it’s not something other teams can just go out and do

            • What are we arguing again?

              The Huntington era management team unquestionably has learned and adapted over the course of their tenure. This is an essential trait of *any* successful organization. They’re now in a position where the *initial* focus of “The Plan” is the icing on the cake, not the backbone. They’ve proven that they don’t *have* to hit homeruns in drafting and development in order to succeed.

              The majority of the early trades haven’t produced productive big leaguers moving forward, Alvarez may never reach his potential, Tony Sanchez may never start another big league game, not a single one of the ’09 arms may amount to anything, and it quite literally would not hurt the organization at this point.

              This is a good thing. This is a compliment.

              • I don’t think hitting on every draft pick was ever part of the plan.. you do.. I don’t even think drafting was ever really how they thought they’d seperate themselves.. if anything, the plan on player acquisition was just to turn every stone to find them and not depend on the draft..

                • My goodness…

                  • Right.. your point was the plan is arguably a failure.. my point of view is that your statement demonstrated clearly how little you know

                    • Ha, that’s cute. Feel better about yourself now?

                      One Pirate fan condescendingly arguing with another Pirate fan about *how* management has been successful. Yeah, Pirate fans will neeeeeever be as insufferable as Cardinals fans.

                    • The Pirates have never come out publicly and handed anyone a copy of their plan, so it can’t be a failure or a winner unless you know exactly what it is/was. Everyone does the basics of what the Pirates do. IMO, the Pirates are more systematic than plan oriented, the Pirates stick to what they want to do in given situations, possibly better than some teams. At this point in time the Pirates farm has only produced 2 staring position players since 2007, every other starting player was attained beyond the draft, or by a previous GM. IMO, the farm has superior talent on it now, but we still need to see the production at the major league level.

                    • I suppose it could have been their plan to thump their chest and believe that they can draft better then anyone else.. i reckon it’s possible the plan could have been to win that way..

                    • Cutch, Walker, Starling, Pedro, Mercer, Polanco – all starters.

          • If leveraging market inefficiencies – in the ways that have actually paid off – was *always* part of the plan, then I wish they would’ve started doing it sooner.

            I’m not sure it was something that coulda been done sooner. Like it or not, it takes some period of time for a bread to rise– as they say.

      • The Cardinals never get key pieces from outside their organization ?

      • “The Plan has arguably been a failure to this point.” Are you joking me right now?

        Let’s review some of the plan and you tell me where it has failed.

        1.) Hire baseball savvy people to lead the organization back to relevance with the stated goal of being a championship caliber team.
        2.) Encourage bringing in cutting edge baseball analytical minds to the organization to gain a competitive edge.
        3.) Invest heavily in Prospects, both domestically and the DR, and give them state of the art facilities and people to foster their growth.
        4.) Identify undervalued MLB FA’s to bring in and coach them up to outperform their perceived capabilities.
        5.) Invest in homegrown talent by offering them mutually beneficial contracts to buy out arbitration and even some FA years of service.

        Come on NMR, you’re better than this!

        • “The Plan” has been written on Pirate boards for as long as Huntington has been around referencing the oft-spoken Front Office strategy to build internally through drafting and development. Often times tongue-in-cheek during the years where folks like bashing the FO for everything they did. That’s what I thought the poster was implying. And yes, speaking specifically in those terms, “The Plan” has failed. The Pirates wouldn’t be close to where they’re at now by going on those terms.

          My entire point is that “The Plan” has evolved. I promise you won’t be able to find a single reference to your fourth point before AJ Burnett, because it didn’t happen. The team invested resources in guys like Kevin Correia and Scott Olson. Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes.

          I don’t see what the problem is in acknowledging that fact.

          • That was more about saying the opposite wasn’t their plan.. they weren’t planning on spending their way to 500 record just to do so.. the players they win with will not be high priced free agents

            • If I’m incorrect and their plan was to lift the franchise thru the draft then I definitely agree.. Huntington has a lot to learn based on his early draft results

          • Scott Kliesen
            January 23, 2015 1:00 pm

            OK, I have a better understanding of where you’re coming from, and can agree with some of what you’re saying. I think it’s misguided to believe the Pirates ever intended to put all their eggs into the draft and development basket. There was always a plan to augment those efforts with undervalued MLB FA’s and trade acquisitions.

            • Absolutely, and where my “failure” comment came into play is in the “augmenting” of the drafting and development efforts.

              I think a pretty clear argument could be made that the vast majority of player value has come not from Huntington drafts, but from Littlefield holdovers and FA/MLB trades. When we were all sitting around in ’08, ’09, ’10 talking about the teams that would break the streak and get the Pirates back to the playoffs, we weren’t talking about which buy-low groundball pitcher with an xFIP outpacing his ERA was going to lead us there. We were talking about the ’09 bonus babies, Pedro, Allie, Heredia, Tailon, etc… apparently I’m in the minority, but I consider it an even greater accomplishment that the big league team could be in the shape it is now without getting much from the first three drafts while still haven’t a very strong farm system for the future.

              • I think you confusing what we were thinking to be the same as what the front office was planning

      • As much as STL gets? Do you have numbers for this, because I would think that McCutchen, Marte, Walker, Pedro, Mercer, Harrison, Polanco, Cole, Locke, Watson would rate similarly to Carpenter, Adams, Wong, Jay, Molina, Wacha, Lynn, Rosenthal and Martinez.

      • One huge thing the Pirates have going for them system-wise is Rene Gayo in Latin America. The Pirates have definitely been great there…at least with hitters…and seemingly many more to come after Marte, Polanco, Hanson, Willy Garcia, etc.

  • Don’t forget Gift Ngoepe! I rate him as a guy who may not stand out at first, but given the opportunity will adapt and shine. His glove work is amazing! Doesn’t help him with all the depth they have at short or 2nd at the moment but i think he’ll just take that as more motivation

  • Don’t forget Gift Ngoepe! I rate him as a guy who may not stand out at first, but given the opportunity will adapt and shine. His glove work is amazing! Doesn’t help him with all the depth they have at short or 2nd at the moment but i think he’ll just take that as more motivation

  • at least Olney didn’t call the Pirates the #6org