Fan boiling point near? Hot stove, jobs, & roids

Over the last three weeks I’ve had some pretty heated discussions with several season ticket holders who have been around a long time. It started with one seat in one section more than a year ago and has grown to a dialogue involving several sections and many people.

To say some of them are frustrated is an understatement.

The curious part about most of these folks is that just five months ago many of them were still emailing asking me to be more positive and that I should put more faith in Robert Nutting.

Throw all that out the door.

The tone of the communication over the last couple of weeks has gone from "a little hope left in the tank" to one of total discouragement. They are not happy and are now turning angry. Imagine that – angry irate fans.

One ticket holder said he’s been a regular fixture for more than fifteen years and this is the first time he has not looked forward to watching the Pittsburgh Pirates play.

Now that’s sad.

And what’s even more amazing about most of these folks feelings is that the Pirates haven’t even dealt any of their PR treasures yet. By gosh, if they did let Bay, Snell, Sanchez, and Wilson all fly off the shelf, I bet they would struggle to sell 1M tickets.

The Pirates are going to take a hit on attendance this year – that only stands to reason. They know it and expect it I’m sure. But how much of a hit is anyone’s guess. I’m sure they don’t even know. The key will be in the walkup crowds.

More than one year ago I penned a post called "Willy Nutting?" where I questioned if the Nutting clan would allow a 15th consecutive losing season in Pittsburgh. As we now know, it didn’t even faze them and it’s starting to look like a 16th, 17th, and 18th on won’t faze them either.

So it seems the older, longer established fans are finally joining hands with the younger ones who have long known the difference between reality and illusion in Pittsburgh.

At least, it’s certainly starting to look that way.

Shhh.. don’t tell the Pirates you know all this stuff. According to UZR, Jose Bautista was the fourth worst third baseman in the game last year at -12 runs. In 2006 he was -10 runs.

The fourth best defender in the game last year at third? Aramis Ramirez at +6 runs – the guy ownership forced Littlefield to deal in 2003. You know, the guy all the fans called lazy.

Just so you know, Ramirez had the fifth best OPS in the game of those with 500 or more at bats at third, and Bautista was fourth worst.

Now, do you want to take a moment to think about dealing Mr. Ronny "lazy" Paulino?

Oh, and wonder pickups Josh Wilson and Chris Gomez? They have been in negative defensive numbers the last three years at all positions. What a deal.

Speaking of lazy deals, the Padres need a solid left fielder or they need a left-hand platoon bat with Hairston. They also need a 5th starter and reliever and would probably prefer southpaws in both spots.

Perhaps they would have an interest in McLouth, Grabow, and Maholm? Take your best shot at a return package if this ever came to be, but here’s a few guesses:

I think B to B+ 2B prospect Matt Antonelli is intriguing, a couple years off, and would have to be included in any deal, I’m not sold on Headley unless the Pirates pro scouts have given up on Walker or see his bat playing somewhere else (where would be a mystery to me), high school product, and lower level prospect Mat Latos is also intriguing, and right hand reliever Cla Meredith could certainly help the Pirates right now.

Josh Bard could be a short-term stopgap to help push Paulino. Bard’s limitations behind the dish are obvious, but he can still hit the ball. He would fit into a nice platoon role with Paulino over the next year or two as Paulino continues to grow. Perhaps we should/could also ship Doumit to the Pads as a backup to Barrett?

Meredith gives us a solid right hander in the pen for a few years, Antonelli can easily take over for Sanchez at second down the road, and Latos projects as a mid to back of the rotation power arm in three to four years.

But dealing Maholm would leave a hole in the rotation so I would see if Burnett could take the 5th starting spot. If not, I’d create a tandem rotation scheme with Bullington to keep their innings down and at least give them the year to see if they break, crumble, stay the course, or surprise me. Replacing Grabow wouldn’t be easy but one of the younger additions to the roster would have to step up.

You know the Padres would rather have Bay, Marte, and Maholm but I don’t see a deal there. Bay and Grabow easily deal, Bay and Marte easily deal, McLouth and Maholm deal, but Bay and Maholm starts to get a bit too much for what the Pads have available.

Just wild guesses based on the two team’s needs.

Ladies and gentleman, these three players continue to be a valuable part of the core nucleus of the Pirates rebuilding plan. Andrew McCutchen on the left, Brad Lincoln in the middle, and Shelby Ford on the right. This photo was taken in 2006 for Bucco Blog by the Dad’s master photographer, John Setzler.

Word back in Fort Meade is that Cutch saw Santa and asked for a .320 BA and 1.100 OPS next year.

The Curve and Spikes are looking for Interns if you live in the area and are in college. Also, the Curve announced the date for the Hot Stove Dinner and Benefit which includes their yearly Hot Stove auction. Get your tickets before they sell out.

And for those of you that loved the Pirates analyst opportunity posted here yesterday, but couldn’t quite fit the bill, the Indy Indians need an IT/Database Manager. However, you must be able to work up to 14 hours per day and 100 hours per week during peak periods.

Wow.. are there really "peak" periods in AAA that require paying triple-time? Be sure to get an hourly salary for that one! Whew.

The Indians are also looking for a groundskeeper intern. The job requires that you can run a snow plow at 10 mph during April games and are proficient in spray painting grass. Ok.. just kidding. They really do have a beautiful park.

Pete Incaviglia? Steroids? Well no wonder he raked a 1.023 OPS and went yard 23 times at New Orleans in 1998.

Geez. Who would have imagined.