New Ownership, Buckley, and tidbits

I am proud to announce today that I have been hired as a consultant in the game and have sold Bucco Blog to Baseball Interactive Media (BIM), a privately held group in New York City with interests in Pittsburgh. The deal closed today and a press release will be sent out in the next week I’m told.

Over the winter a couple of media groups talked with me about purchasing Bucco Blog like Calkins Media, but BIM became aggressive late. 

You may have already noticed some subtle changes the last few days and what they have planned for Pirates fans at Bucco Blog is unprecedented. It’s an exciting time as this franchise moves forward.

The good news is that they want me to continue posting. My first love in the game is the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise so I’m happy to do just that. Plus, my consulting work is part-time so I still have availability, but my ears will hopefully be closer to the ground.

Thank you fans – your readership made all this possible.

A special note of thanks goes out to Mark Newman at MLB.com for putting up with my rants and helping me along the last two years, Pirates Media Director Jimmy Trdinich for spending at least a few minutes here and there, an unnamed member of the Pirates front office that called me out last year which opened my eyes, and most importantly to those in the field with their devotion, knowledge, and insight that helped me get the job and know how hard I work here to try and provide the fans with the best coverage of the team.

Let’s Go Bucs!

Boy, did I get hammered about my post on Troy Buckley. Those that wrote seem to feel he is a quality hire that can help move this franchise forward.

Perhaps he can.

But that’s not why I was down on the hire. It had nothing to do with Buckley as an individual and his successful college career, and everything to do with his near non-existent professional experience.

But before I go any further with this, I think there needs to be more research into the conditions of his hire. For instance, the Indians hired Dr. Andrews ASMI lab to do research in-year on their pitching staff. Dr. Glenn Fleisig, who is the labs research director, told Bucco Blog last year that:

"The focus of the institute continues to be research (testing theories, discovering answers, publishing results) and education (training programs for doctors, educational courses for doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, coaches, etc.). Thus, individual evaluations was never intended to be a primary focus of ASMI, but since 2002 we have grown the evaluation program as part of our mission to prevent injuries and educate."

So it is entirely possible the Pirates have hired the lab to work alongside of Buckley as the pitching rover like many teams are doing now. Buckley would feed his reports to the lab and they would in turn report back their recommendations. If true, at least that helps explain some of the reason for taking a chance on such an inexperienced rover.

As I said yesterday, there has to be more to this hire than we are hearing. Professional baseball teams don’t pluck a Division I pitching coach off the street and thrust him into such a position, no matter how good he is at the college level. The two arenas are completely different. He would ordinarily start as a pitching coach in the organization and then learn the professional game.

I’ll keep asking questions.

By the way, for those who have a love for pitch counts, injuries, and the like, Dr. Andrews will be presenting the latest information in a three-day event January 25-27 in Columbia, SC. The cost is $450 for most of us. Don’t be too surprised if you meet Buckley there.

Of note is that the lab will be releasing their preliminary study findings on lower WHIP’s, fewer disabled list days, reduction in organizational insurance costs, stronger ERA’s, and the relationship of biomechanical motion, fitness, anatomy, and pitch counts to injury risk. Of course, a lot more will be cover as well.

Fabulous stuff. Well worth the $450.

The Pirates continued their hiring wave by adding Brad Fischer, who was fired from the A’s, and ex-Buc Carlos Garcia who was fired by the Mariners and who will be the minor league infield rover.

Both of these guys are solid hires and seem to be more PR additions than anything because we have very little impact talent their credentials are needed for. Maybe Huntington plans to blow up the major league coaching staff during the season and they are around to move up? Just kidding.. I hope.

But at least Huntington showed he can hire somebody with a name, even if he is giving them the equivalent of "work some from home, earn $20k" type jobs.

The third rover added is Kimera Bartee as the outfield/baserunning rover. I can’t find much on him that makes any difference.

The Yankees fired David Szen today. He was their traveling secretary. I suppose we can guess where all the Hal Steinbrenner leaks were coming from now.

(edit 11:20 AM: a few readers and some close to the Yankees are letting me know Szen pled guilty to filing a false tax return for failing to disclose tips he had earned and may be facing prison time. Oh.. and some are saying Hal is tipping all on his own.)

Dave Littlefield caught a ride with the Cubs. Good for him. I suppose that saved the Pirates some money in 2008. The question to be asked is, what did the Pirates get from the Cubs in this deal, or were we just released of his salary? How many scouts do you know that make $1M per year?

Masumi Kuwata is signing a minor league deal again with the Pirates? Wow. With that media circus, good thing Andrew McCutchen will be starting off in Altoona.

Tractor pull tickets anyone?

Dejan’s December 18th Q&A had some strange utterings. Let’s look at a few:

• For the Pirates to be truly successful, as per the other models for teams in their revenue category, they simply have to follow the Arizona-Cleveland-Colorado models.

Riiighht. Or the Twins. Or the Tigers. Or the Angels. Or <put team name here>.

Come on. It is so sexy to think one club has to follow some other club, but the ones getting it done are creating models to be followed by others. Let’s face it, when a MLB team and the media that follow them say they need to "follow" someone else, then they aren’t planning on getting the job done. Correlation = .99999.

• The Pirates are not blowing up the major-league roster, probably in large part because of concerns such as yours. It is very clear that there is no local appetite for another rebuilding..

The Pirates aren’t blowing up the roster because nobody on the roster is wanted and, those that are either have health issues or Huntington wants too much in Dave Littlefield mode to every team but Cleveland.

Nearly every starting player has been mentioned in rumors so if the Pirates could blow up the roster, they would.

• I agree that money has been a big part of the downfall of the Pirates in the past decade and a half, but not for the same reasons you do, Steve. Rather, it was because they burned far too much of it on stopgap players while skimping on, of all things, scouting and developing. That qualifies as insanity for a low-spending team.

I wonder if Dejan knows the Pirates actually spent at or above the MLB average on player development through 2005, according to Dr. Andrew Zimbalist? Now for scouting, I don’t have numbers but I heard we are underpaying and I assume that means below league average.

Burning money on "stopgap" players and "skimping" on scouting didn’t hurt the Pirates. What hurt the Pirates was refusing to take this club to the next level by ownership who had a broke, mismanaged club and none of the owners would infuse any more cash. Now that we are making money hand over fist, we are starting a six-year rebuilding process so they can reap more profit.

Life is good for Pittsburgh Pirates owners.

It’s the owners greed Dejan.. not a few measly dollars missing in a department or two that hurt this club. Geez.

Hockey anyone?

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