Friday, April 1, 2011

A Friday night in the Smize Archives

Nils and I were talking during today's game and it went something like this:

FRANCO: Garrett Olson is really bad at baseball.
NILS: Yes.
FRANCO: He's the kind of guy Dave Littlefield was so good at drafting in the first round.
NILS: Sometimes with the first overall pick.
FRANCO: Hey... what was the deal with Littlefield's hard-on for Xavier Nady?
NILS: He wasn't alone. Bob Smizik also liked Nady.

Hat tip to Nils for inspiring me to find this ditty!

So why gamble on unproven starting pitching, which is all the Pirates are likely to obtain, and disrupt the one proven aspect of the team: its offense?

This is a point we've been over before, regarding Huntington's total gutting of the roster he inherited: they sucked in every way possible. Starting pitching, relief pitching, defense, and yes, offense. The notion that they were just about to find their groove at the plate is ridiculous. Even in 2008, when you have quality years out of Bay, Doumit, LaRoche, McLouth and Nady, the team still managed to finish 13th in the league in OPS. This was not murderer's row, people.

We're suggesting that before the Pirates trade Nady -- and immediately decrease their chances of winning this season and next -- they consider keeping their offense together and gamble with the pitchers they have and may be able to pick up as bargain free agents or in lesser trades.

This is another, documented instance of Smizik speaking in the first person plural. Who the hell else is in the room, Bob?

Also: At the time Nady was traded the Pirates were 48-56. After that and the Jason Bay trade, they went 19-39. Yes, they became a worse team that season. No, they did not have a chance to be .500, even if they had kept those players.

Paul Maholm appears to be maturing into a good pitcher. Zach Duke has shown, after two bad seasons, that he may be of major-league caliber at the bottom of the rotation. It's entirely possible Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny will return to form.

Maholm kind of sucks. He's not flaming dogshit bad, but he's pretty darn mediocre. So no, he's not maturing into anything. He was just having a career year in 2008 to the tune of a sizzling 114 ERA+.

Zach Duke sucks. Now he's injuring himself with the Diamondbacks. Also: what kind of unreasonable thing is it to say "Our pitching might fix itself, just look, we have a guy who sucked recently, but it now looks like he might be a marginal fifth starter!"

Ian Snell did "return to form", going back to his pre-2007 habit of walking over 4 per 9 IP and getting hit like a piñata. Gorzo was just another weak-armed lefty, who doesn't have much on big league hitters.

The Pirates have had some success in the past with finding pitchers at a reasonable rate. Williams, the team's best closer since Kent Tekulve, and Todd Ritchie, who won 35 games in three years from 1999-2001, were picked up off the baseball scrap heap. A slow market enabled the Pirates to get Jeff Suppan for one season in 2003.

Ah yes, the Miracle Bucs of 2003. And who could forget Todd Ritchie? Maybe the Smize was right: what Neal Huntington needed in 2008 was a scrap heap pitcher of Ritchie's caliber.

Todd Ritchie: 43-54, 4.71 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9
Paul Maholm: 47-59, 4.48 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9

Oh. Right. Mediocre scrap-heap pitchers were our specialty already.

Okay... so this is pretty goofy of me, picking on a guy with three years of hindsight on my side. But what I'm now about to show you justifies us digging this baby back up.


The notion that prized prospect Andrew McCutcheon will make the departure of Nady bearable doesn't make a lot of sense. McCutcheon is going to be a good player, probably better than Nady, but it's doubtful he'll reach his peak in 2009 or even 2010. In Barry Bonds' first four seasons, his batting averages were .223, .261, .283 and .248. It's not like McCutcheon is tearing apart Class AAA. He's batting .282 with eight home runs in 352 at bats.

1) This man is a sports writer for a legitimate newspaper. How was he able to misspell McCutchen?

2) Was the departure of Xavier Nady really that unbearable for anyone? (Leave a comment below if it was, we'll send you a pierogi in the mail.)

3) It is very doubtful that Cutch has reached his peak, in fact, let's hope he keeps getting better. But here's the thing, in 2009 and 2010 alone, he's been worth 6.4 Wins Above Replacement level. Xavier Nady, in a nine-year career, has totaled a WAR of 2.1.

4) Barry Bonds' WAR in his first four seasons was 22.2. If given the choice of watching a young Barry Bonds steal a bunch of bases, play stellar defense, hit some home runs, take some walks and struggle with batting average, or a mid-career Xavier Nady go on a high BAbip spree, I'd probably take the former. Probably.

5) Fuck the heck?? How is any of this relevant? Because Barry Bonds didn't have a high batting average and because Andrew McCutchen was only hitting .280 something in AAA, we shouldn't have traded high on Nady while we had the chance??

Classic stuff. Happy opening day, everyone.


Joe said...

Happy Opening Day, FTC!

Enjoy the glut of "HA HA THE PIRATES ARE IN FIRST PLACE" comments until the inevitable first loss of the season.

FRANCOfranco said...

May. Never. Lose. Again.