Media whitewashing, Sanchez’s value, & looking back

I was going to do a nice question and answer post today until I came across one reader’s email where he said just eleven words:

"The Big Lie: the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Silent Lie: Pittsburgh media."


I’ve hammered Pittsburgh Pirates beat writers for two solid years here. You know it, they know it, and the Pittsburgh Pirates know it. I’m often told these guys have a job to do and I should just back off – they are doing the best they can.


One in particular – Dejan Kovacevic – might as well be paid by the Pittsburgh Pirates marketing department for the way he whitewashes the Pirates. I mean, look at just a few of his Q&A posts:

Q. I feel like the only thing the Pirates can do to bring someone in is to give them money, of which they have little.

A. To the credit of the Pirates’ new management..

Q. Dejan, should we read anything into the fact that the Pirates are coming up short on acquiring either free agents or trades? Does this indicate that Neal Huntington is just being patient or cautious..

A. The Pirates’ offer, from what I understand, was plenty competitive with..

Q. Isn’t the real issue simply whether or not he is attempting to sell high on his best players? The Pirates don’t have a lot of sell-high candidates right now.

Q. So, my question is: Can a team that is constantly building for the future ever win in the present? Doesn’t a team need to gather a handful of prospect and when they mature, build a team for the present around them?

A. To start, no phrase gets thrown around more inaccurately as it relates to the Pirates than the dreaded Five-Year PlanThe only Five-Year Plan was the one Kevin McClatchy and Cam Bonifay espoused in 1997. That was it.

Yes, it is possible to win while constantly turning over players into prospects…

Q. While it has been refreshing to see that the Pirates’ new management team actually seems to have plan..

Q. Is it therefore accurate to deduce that the new leadership thinks most of the team’s problems with fundamentals were at the major-league level in terms of demands on the players and in the GM’s office in terms of decision-making and talent evaluation?

A. My theory on this …

One, there genuinely were and are some good people at various levels of the Pirates’ system.. Two, yes, many of the Pirates’ problems, specifically related to fundamentals and motivation, likely were the fault of the major-league staff..

And these are just from the last week or so.

Talk about kissing someone’s rear to keep a job.

No matter how much you may love or hate Dejan Kovacevic and his beat reporting, you have to agree something smells rotten in Denmark in some of these exchanges.

I mean, seriously.. think critically folks, what Pirate fan on this planet:

— thinks the Pirates don’t have any money to spend?

— would call a similar offer made to Vizciano from the Pirates as the reigning NL champs a "competitive" offer?

— doesn’t know by now the current roster hasn’t a prayer of being competitive in any contest other than the amount of profits yielded by owners?

— believes the Pirates don’t have a lot of "sell-high" candidates (like Sanchez, Snell, Nady, Gorzy, Bautista, Wilson, McLouth, Morgan, LaRoche, etc) much less even care if players are sold "high" or sold at true market value?

— doesn’t believe "rebuilding, "financial flexibility" and "retooling" aren’t synonyms, whether called "five year plans" on paper or not?

— believes the current administration has any plan whatsoever since they have done absolutely nothing but shed payroll?

— believes the Pirates lack of fundamentals and motivation where the "fault" of the major league coaching staff. This is, perhaps, one of the lamest excuses I have ever witnessed a beat reporter make in the name of the franchise.

It’s propaganda folks. These types of articles simply perpetuate the Pirates brainwashing of the fans and you’re being taken for a ride because nobody thinks you know better. He’ll probably argue these are real questions. I’d argue back that he’s the one picking what is being displayed and talked about.

Think "Animal Farm" by George Orwell where the pig tries to delete a few characters from the minds of the other animals. These guys try to erase from your mind the fact the Pirates had more money guaranteed to them from MLB than they spent on player payroll before they opened their doors for business.

Or that the apple core has been rotten for so long, there isn’t a player in the game who wants to be associated with the stink of the core.

Demand accountability.. demand objectivity. Until the fans take these newspapers to task, Robert Nutting has no reason to change anything.

After all, the newspapers are telling you there are "reasons and/or excuses" why Nutting really isn’t a failure at all.

I hear you – those won’t make the Q&A. You’re right.

Last January I summarized the big five fantasy projection systems for the 2007 Pirates. Included on offense were eight probable starters in Duffy, Bautista, Nady, Bay, Wilson, Castillo, Sanchez, and Paulino. The five pitcher projections were Duke, Gorzelanny, Maholm, Snell, and Chacon.

Normalized Runs on offense were based on 4400 at bats (550 per player) and 875 innings (175 per) for the pitchers. The ’07 column is the final figures for these players and the ’06 column is there for a reference.

Let’s see how they did:

As you can see, Ron Shandler was the clear winner. PECOTA did pretty good on offense as well but then choked on pitching. Bill James nailed the Pirates pitchers pretty good but estimated way too much contact and plate discipline on offense. Still, I’ll give him second overall because it’s so hard to project pitching. ZIPS was very consistent throughout and was in a dead heat with James for second.

What threw off the Pirates hits per nine was, of course, Zack Duke’s insane 13.5 H/9 otherwise all of the systems would have been closer. But if you remember, Bucco Blog warned about Duke’s workload and we expected a downturn. The same is true for Gorzelanny in 2008.

And none of the systems accounted for the younger pitchers finding the plate better as we also suggested should happen based on Trippett’s great study. In fact, this came to pass and should be even better in 2008.

Shandler walks away with the prize this year. Marcel’s leg broke in the backstretch and didn’t finish.

Is this a joke?

"In an effort to continue infusing depth into the organization.." – Pirateball

I guess one person’s garbage is another person’s "depth."

So tell me, will the Pirates be the landing place for all the steroid users? I mean, we are best known for being the place to go to rejuvenate a career.

I say, let’s go get Clemens, Bonds, Tejada, Pettitte, and Gagne. At least we’ll sound like a MLB team for the first time in years.

There’s a great discussion going on at Bucco Blog’s new forum right now on what Freddy Sanchez’s real value is. Go get involved.