It was often a running joke about how former Pirates were littered around the major leagues, performing well for other organizations.
Yet the latest crop to do so is just mind-boggling and makes you wonder why exactly players struggle so bad in a Pirates’ uniform and have success in other places.
Home run champion Jose Bautista once commented that it was nice to really be coached once he got out of Pittsburgh and we’ve seen the results that Bautista has put up since being given away by the Bucs.
But there has to be something to it. Almost every former Pirates finds greener pastures other places and we’re not talking about All-Star’s, which is the problem. When other organizations have so much success getting productive baseball out of what you organization viewed as garbage, then it is time to really examine you baseball people from top to bottom.
Here’s a look at the postseason now.
Oakland A’s first baseman Brandon Moss hit 20 home runs and knocked in 52 runs since joining the team in June, fueling the A’s playoff run. Moss was a major piece in the Jason Bay trade of 2008 and hit only .228 with 13 home runs and 64 RBIs in three seasons.
Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Nate McLouth has played an important role in getting Baltimore into the playoffs. McLouth hit .140 and drove in two runs with the Pirates this season before getting released in May. With the Orioles, McLouth hit .268 with seven homers and has had a few big hits this postseason.
Another guy that comes to mind is Pedro Ciriaco, although the Boston Red Sox didn’t make the postseason. While in Pittsburgh, Ciriaco was buried on the bench and took frequent bus rides back and forth from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. In the offseason, the Bucs signed 33-year-old free agent shortstop Clint Barmes to a two-year, $10.5 million contract. Barmes hit .229 and had a .272 OBP. Ciriaco, after being released by the Pirates in the offseason, became a regular for the Red Sox from July on and hit .293 with a .315 OBP and 16 steals in 19 attempts.
Meanwhile the Pirates were dead last in the majors in steals, swiping bags at an embarrassing 58 percent rate.
Finally, although I was never a Ryan Doumit fan, a mistake was probably made there as well.
The Pirates signed 37-year-old free-agent catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year, $4 million deal with a club option for 2013 of $3.5 million. Barajas hit .206. while they chose not to offer a free-agent contract Doumit. Doumit signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Twins and hit .275 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs.
In addition Doumit threw out 18 percent of potential base stealers. That’s not a great number and was never Doumit’s strength as a Pirate, but looking at the fact that the Bucs threw out an abysmal 11 percent as a team, he definitely would have made a difference.
This problem has been going on for years.
It looks more and more by the season that the Pirates simply can’t evaluate talent. Even if they didn’t consider these guys as starters, you need a bench to win and the Pirates have as bad of a bench as there is in baseball. When Josh Harrison is often your top bat off the bench it means you don’t have one.
You win in the majors with depth, something else the Pirates don’t have.
But while all of that is true, the real problem lies in management’s ability to evaluate what they have and what they don’t have.
Did they make a mistake releasing McLouth? Absolutely not. He did nothing in a Pirates uniform to warrant being here. The mistake was probably signing him to begin with.
But looking back, how much better would the Pirates have been with those four guys on the bench? Or even had they gone a different direction other than Barmes or Barajas?
That points to management not being able to evaluate talent properly. When you swing and miss on every single player you sign and watch guys that were here and you have control of succeed in other places, it’s eye opening and something that needs addressed.
These were just four examples from this season. Certainly these guys weren’t cornerstones and were players the organization could definitely move on without.
But it’s funny how well everyone seems to do once they get out of Pittsburgh.