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 Post subject: Grading the Pirates Philosophy and System
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:15 pm 
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I have posted this question on CIA (After which I deleted my account) and ESPN Message Board. I would be interested in a serious conversation about the grade ...

For years the Pirates have frustrated the fans of Pittsburgh with either infuriating moves, the lack of moves, the inability to recognize major league talent, the inability to develop talent, etc. On top of all these deficiencies, there never seemed to be a plan we could all follow.



Well that roller coaster system seems to have finally come to an end. When Coonley and Huntington took over the reigns 13 months ago, they communicated a plan that would not only change the culture, but would create an organization that would compete for championships year after year. For most fans those words were received with a great amount of skepticism and for good reason. So here is my question, how do we grade this organization's changes after a little over a year?



· The revamping of the scouting department

· Their new presence not only in Central America but also globally

· The drafting the best talent regardless of sign-ability

· Implementing a system-wide philosophy of teaching and playing "the Pirates' Way"

· The restocking of the minor league system through the amateur and rule 5 drafts and unpopular trades

· Locking up "core" players with long-term contracts

· Hiring a REAL major league staff on all levels



If the system works the real proof is at the major league level in terms of wins and losses. Coming into the second spring training of "their system", the proof is in the pudding... wins and losses!



I know the jury is still out on the leadership, but the truth is there is a measurable system in place that the suits are following. They have, and continue to have a plan they refuse to deviate from even if the decisions are not well received. For that I am pleased so far and would give them an "A". And as I follow the team in this spring, the team continues to take baby steps toward winning baseball.



· Teaching how to pitch inside (fear is a great equalizer for a pitcher)

· Teaching how to play infield defense from one of the best instructors in baseball

· Teaching how to run bases with aggression, but not foolishly

· Teaching players how to utilize thorough game planning: offensively, defensively, and pitching

· Teaching the team what it cost and how to pay that price to success



And the result: winning more than losing! Baseball is not rocket science, doing what the suits are doing results in more wins than losses ... the spring is the result. Now they just need to take the system into the regular season. That will be the next step!



Overall an "A-" What is your take?


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 Post subject: Re: Grading the Pirates Philosophy and System
PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:39 am 
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preach1 wrote:
I have posted this question on CIA (After which I deleted my account) and ESPN Message Board. I would be interested in a serious conversation about the grade ...

For years the Pirates have frustrated the fans of Pittsburgh with either infuriating moves, the lack of moves, the inability to recognize major league talent, the inability to develop talent, etc. On top of all these deficiencies, there never seemed to be a plan we could all follow.



Well that roller coaster system seems to have finally come to an end. When Coonley and Huntington took over the reigns 13 months ago, they communicated a plan that would not only change the culture, but would create an organization that would compete for championships year after year. For most fans those words were received with a great amount of skepticism and for good reason. So here is my question, how do we grade this organization's changes after a little over a year?



· The revamping of the scouting department

· Their new presence not only in Central America but also globally

· The drafting the best talent regardless of sign-ability

· Implementing a system-wide philosophy of teaching and playing "the Pirates' Way"

· The restocking of the minor league system through the amateur and rule 5 drafts and unpopular trades

· Locking up "core" players with long-term contracts

· Hiring a REAL major league staff on all levels


To answer the question as to how the new management is doing, let me take the points one by one:

· The revamping of the scouting department

Too early to tell, but selecting Pedro Alvarez, Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Grossman, etc. indicates a preference for high-ceiling guys.

· Their new presence not only in Central America but also globally

Signed a guy from South Africa. Will presumably sign more players from Latin America. Hope to see some good players from Japan, Korea. Too early to tell.

· The drafting the best talent regardless of sign-ability

Pedro Alvareza vs. Matt Wieters? Check.

· Implementing a system-wide philosophy of teaching and playing "the Pirates' Way"

Let's see Pirates minor league pitchers throw inside, throw strikes, avoid walks and Pirate hitters work the count and draw walks.

· The restocking of the minor league system through the amateur and rule 5 drafts and unpopular trades

Unpopular trades? Check. Amatuer draft this past season? Check. Rule V? Seems so, with Veal. Check on all categories.

· Locking up "core" players with long-term contracts

Doumit, Mclouth, Maholm, Capps ... check.

· Hiring a REAL major league staff on all levels

Let's see how Kerrigan works out this year, but he is a proven, quality pitching coach. I also like John Russell. Check? Maybe?


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 Post subject: Re: Grading the Pirates Philosophy and System
PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:07 am 
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When you put it all together like that, it is hard to say that there is no plan. Pretty impressive and they are continuing to follow it.

Agree with both of you that it's too early to see it in wins but that will come soon enough.

That's a great post, thanks for taking the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Grading the Pirates Philosophy and System
PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:46 am 
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I agree that this management seems to have a plan and seems to be following it religiously. Frank Coonley is very respected in baseball as a very bright man and may be in line to take over from Bud ("I know nothing") Selig as the commissioner whenever old Bud steps down. Neal Huntington also seems like a very solid guy. They have made unpopular trades (Bay and Nady) but they got a boatload of prospects for those two guys and if only a couple of them turn out, they will still be ahead of the game since Bay and Nady were unlikely to sign here when they hit free agency. This is now the name of the game with respect to dealing with free agency.....trade the guy the year before he hits free agency if he doesn't re-up before then, and get prospects. I sometimes wonder if the Pirates would have done better in the 90's if they had traded Bonilla, Bonds and Drabek rather than having them all leave via free agency. Given that the Pirates were in the thick of the pennant races way back then, that probably would have been hard to do, but it does cause me to pause. But, thus far, I'd give the new management an A-. Turning this franchise around is going to take some time since Littlefield and McClatcy left it in shambles, but I think the new guys have the right idea. I'm hopeful.


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 Post subject: Re: Grading the Pirates Philosophy and System
PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:16 pm 
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I think it is too early to grade the new regime as this is only their second year in charge, so I would give them an incomplete. Not to get too political, but grading them this early into the rebuilding process would be the equivalent of grading the Obama administration on what it has done thus far. Both inherited messes from their predecessors, both have bold plans that some like and some don't, and no answers will be had overnight in either situation. With regard to the Bucs, I am very cautiously optimistic about what I have seen thus far, however it is early and I have been fooled before. Ask me after the season how I grade this regime and how they handled year 18 of our five year rebuilding plan. I should have a better grasp on the situation then. For what it's worth, I get to see the damage (or seeds of rebuilding) in person on Saturday and Sunday. Go Bucs!

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 Post subject: Re: Grading the Pirates Philosophy and System
PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:07 pm 
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I feel that though it is early, you can grade a team on the soundness of its work. There is nothing wrong with making the wrong decision, when a sound framework was used in making the choices.

That said, while I mostly support what the new regime has been doing, outside of the draft and a better scouting system, I'm a little unsure. Have the signings of Maholm, Mclouth, and Doumit really set the team up to be better later or are they cost certainties that make them more attractive for trade partners? Is Nyjer Morgan starting so that McCutchen can get more time in AAA or do they really think he is better than Pearce or McCutchen right now?

Overall, I give them the early grade of a B, with the next years graduation of players a deciding factor.


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