Saturday, November 20, 2010

Alright, AP... let's dance

This, over the Yahoo! feed.

PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Pittsburgh Pirates won’t offer contracts to left-hander Zach Duke and infielders Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young, designating them for assignment in moves that effectively make them free agents.

Duke = -0.6 WAR in 2010
LaRoche = -1.5 WAR in 2010
Young = -0.6 WAR in 2010

The Pirates chose to create roster space for other players in advance of the Rule 5 draft next month.

This time we're keeping Chris Shelton.

Pittsburgh made a similar move last winter with closer Matt Capps, who went on to be one of the majors’ top relievers for Washington and Minnesota.

Here's where we get away from pithy in favor of being verbose, and it's only because we're being provoked. Look, people: a reliever is really not worth anything at all unless you consistently have some kind of lead to protect late in the game. The Pittsburgh Pirates, circa 2010 were scoring approximately 1.03 runs per game, and had zero starting pitchers throw shutouts. Had Mariano Rivera pitched for us, his save total would have committed ritual suicide out of shame. Matt Capps: Not the answer!

Also, let's just point out, all of Capps' numbers were in line with his career averages, except for HR/9, which was largely influenced by his new parks.


By not tendering them contracts, the Pirates are giving up on Duke, their former staff ace, and LaRoche, their former starting third baseman who was considered a key to the Jason Bay trade two years ago.

If we had had a pitcher win 16 games in any season dating from 1992 until present, we'd consider him a staff ace. What Zach Duke did as a rookie was phenomenal rookie luck. My dad warned me of it at the time, told me to not get too excited. He said: "Boy, you's a-throwin' way yer moneys goin' to that openin' day parade n' game. That southpaw ain't got a lick told on them other boys. 'Specially the colored ones." That was 2006. Zach Duke gave us one of the most mediocre opening day performances by any sophomore starter, ever. I had brought my Terrible Towel to cheer him on, but to no avail.

As far as LaRoche goes... eh. Whatever. Bryan Morris was the key piece in that whole deal, Bay was leaving town anyway. Now we have Pedro A. and Neil W. to play infield. Andy LaRoche is welcome to try to be claimed by anyone. Or anything.

All three were arbitration-eligible.

NEAL HUNTINGTON: Thank you for speaking with me, I know you're very busy.

ANDY LAROCHE'S AGENT: Neal, it's not a problem. I think what we have to say will--

NEAL HUNTINGTON: (signaling with a raised index finger.) Hang on there, I'm on the phone. (Reveals that he has his bluetooth headset on his other ear.) No. Sorry. Someone was talking at me ...Yes. I think you're right. No... I don't want Darryl Strawberry, I don't care how cheap he's willing to go. ...No. That's not right, that's why. Okay. Well. There are... 'people' in my office. Ciao. (To ANDY LAROCHE'S AGENT and ANDY LAROCHE.) Yes?

ANDY LAROCHE: I am happy to be ready to cash in and make MONEY!


ANDY LAROCHE'S AGENT: We would like to take you to arbitration.

NEAL HUNTINGTON: Are you eligible?


NEAL HUNTINGTON: Well. Then. In the words of Dave Coulier: you're cut.

The 27-year-old Duke was 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA as a rookie in 2005, but hasn’t been fewer than five games below .500 since then.

Part (A) had to do with a small sample size, part (B) had to do with his inability to throw harder than 89 MPH.

He was 8-15 with a 5.72 ERA last season as the Pirates lost 105 games. Before that, he was 11-16, 5-14, 3-8 and 10-15, with an ERA of at least 4.06 each season.

Yep. He really sucked. Exactly the kind of guy you don't invite to the negotiating table.

“I am truly thankful for the opportunity the Pirates have given me and genuinely enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh,” Duke said in a statement. “I understand this business decision and wish the Pirates and my friends still on the team the best of luck in the future.”

I thank you, Zach Duke. You were a brief moment of hope, and then a refreshingly cold shower of reality. Anytime I think life if looking up, I just remember the kick in the teeth you gave me for 5 straight seasons.

LaRoche was the Pirates’ starting third baseman in 2009, batting .258 with 12 homers and 64 RBIs. He lost his job to rookie Pedro Alvarez last season while hitting .206 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 247 at-bats, mostly as a bench player. He hit .152 in 2008.

So... when the AP editor was trying to come up with a title for this column, and he passed on 'LaRoche gives up on baseball', that was a wildly unethical journalistic move, right?

LaRoche, 27, and minor league pitcher Bryan Morris were considered the key players acquired by Pittsburgh in the three-team trade that sent Bay to the Red Sox and Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. Morris has yet to pitch for the Pirates.

Bryan Morris better be decent. Otherwise this blog will turn into a place for kneejerk reactionism and anti-deficit-spending tirades.

Young, a bench player, hit .236 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 191 at-bats. One of his season highlights was becoming the first major league player to homer off Nationals rookie Stephen Strasburg.

Have you ever met an old man who was really good at telling you about how good he was at a sport? That'll be poor Delwyn Young. And yes. He did take Strasburg deep. As if that could make up for the fact that he can't hit.

The moves with Duke and LaRoche weren’t a surprise, as it was evident late in the season that neither fit in the Pirates’ long-term plans.

However, the move to sever ties with Delwyn Young: total shock. It quite literally reanimated the swollen by seawater corpse of Roberto Clemente, so that he now lurks his namesake bridge as a saxophone playing albino. Such was the power of this roster move.

The team estimated it would cost at least $6 million to re-sign Duke for 2011.

I love baseball, and I love Pittsburgh. But if I were ever entrusted with the job of general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, I'd probably just funnel the money away to UNICEF. Seriously, though. When we're talking about a world where Zach Duke could potentially make $6,000,000, that's some immoral shit, right there.

The Pirates added right-handers Michael Crotta, Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson and Tony Watson and left-hander Daniel Moskos to their 40-man roster.

Danny Moskos!!! KHAN!!!!!!

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