By Dan Schwarzwaelder, WSOE Sports
For the past 17 years at the trade deadline the Pirates have been sellers not buyers. The days of Pirates “We are family” World Series glory are long gone and many in Pittsburgh, with the success of their other teams have given up on the Buccos. What they fail to remember is that the Pittsburgh Pirates are actually one of the most storied franchises in baseball, with 5 world series victories, good enough for 6th all time behind only the Yankees, Cardinals, Oakland A’s, Red Sox and Dodgers. The Pirates can also lay claim to the fact that all 5 of their World Series victories went 7 games, including the only game 7 to be ended on a walk off homerun to win. Bill Mazeroski 1960 against the mighty New York Yankees. The Pirates also have had a plethora of great players wear their uniform, including most notably Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Stargell and of course Barry Bonds among others.
However, Pittsburghers have a right to be angry, the Pirates are currently 45-65 and in last place. They will most likely not have a winning record this year and that means 17 straight losing seasons and the worst streak in MLB history. How have they fallen so far? Bad ownership and even worse trades. From trading Aramis Ramirez, a 30 HR 100 RBI third baseman for basically a warm six pack, to more recently Nate McLouth, an All-Star gold glove centerfield, the Pirates have given up young talent and gotten younger unproven talent in return.
This year the Pirates have finally hit bottom, they have unloaded the entire squad and cleaned house to the extent that they no longer resemble any semblance of a major league squad. So they have been aptly named the Pittsburgh Prospects. How bad is it you may ask? Well they are on a seven-game losing streak and they traded at the deadline Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelany, Adam LaRoche and other bullpen pieces. The oldest player on the Pirates is now 32 year old Ramon Vasquez and he doesn’t start.
There is a light in this dark time for Pirates fans across the globe…all 8 of them. That light is 5 feet 11 inches 175 pounds and runs like the wind. Andrew McCuthen. This guy has already taken the city by storm. Most recently he had a three homerun game and he isn’t a power hitter. The power hitter the Pirates now possess is Garrett Jones, or as Pittsburghers call him “The Natural”. At 6’4” he is a presence at the plate and in his first year as a starter has won rookie of the month for July for hitting the most home runs (10) and having the highest slugging percentage.
The Pirates also now have two of the top prospects in baseball with slugging third baseman Pedro Alvarez and newly acquired pitcher Tim Alderson from the Giants.
Will the Pirates turn this slide around this year, the answer is no. It may be three of four years before we see if these trades were worth it. But something needed to be done to this team, and since he took over two years ago GM Neal Huntington has had a plan and that is to rebuild the pirates through their minor league system, much like the Tampa Bay Rays did. It does appear that he is on the right track.