Monday, September 07, 2009

Steve Blass Looks Ahead

By The Last Hollywood Star

During his weekend broadcasts of the Pittsburgh Pirates-St. Louis Cardinals’ series, Fox Sports Network announcer and former Bucco great Steve Blass said two thing that weary fans should keep in mind as the season ends.

• Getting to the major leagues and performing in the major leagues are two different things.

• At some point, the Pirates must produce.

Blass’ two observations are at the heart of the Pirates’ problems.

Without naming names the Bucs have several players, perhaps even as many as fifteen, who are major leaguers in name only. Wearing a Pirate uniform does not qualify them as quality major league performers.

Blass’ second comment was indirectly aimed at General Manager Neal Huntington.

During their banter, fellow announcer Tim Neverett told Blass that Huntington hosted a brunch for season ticket holders and that most expressed understanding and satisfaction with the long-term goals outlined by Pirate management.

Whether the fans were simply being polite or were among the minority that endorse the perpetual policy of trading established stars for prospects, we can’t be sure.

What we do know is that Blass is on the money. The Pirates are on the verge of total insignificance in Pittsburgh. Considering the players acquired to date in various major trades, fans have no compelling reason to trust the baseball opinions of the men who make the decisions.

The Jason Bay trade to the Boston Red Sox is the best example. While Bay has performed at an All Star level, the players acquired in return have been at best mediocre or totally ineffective; pitchers Craig Hansen, Bryan Morris, Andy La Roche and Brandon Moss.

When a one for four trade nets zero, that’s as bad as it gets.

But faith is what Huntington wants from us. Before Sunday’s game, Greg Brown interviewed Huntington who repeatedly insisted that the Pirates are on the right course, that his scouts are the best in the business and that positive results will be forthcoming soon. Huntington specifically refused to predict whether the Pirates would be winning by 2010, 2012 or 2015.

As far as fans are concerned, time is up. To maintain the few shreds of credibility that remain among the small pocket of devoted fans, the Pirates will need to produce at a .500 winning percentage on the field before mid-season 2010

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