Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sometimes, people besides us are right

And that's why today, Bob Smizik gets a gold star.

Quite a day for the Pirates.

In descending order, they:


Rescinded the scholarship of Jose Ascanio, sending a message to players and fans alike that they are completely serious about winning.

I don't necessarily think this is what the Pirates had in mind when they made the move. I think it was more along the lines of, "Wow, does this guy ever suck? Let's try someone else." But, since The Smize seems to have discovered an entirely new side of the bed to wake up on, I'm going to give this one.

Yesterday, June 6, 2011, a date which will be undoubtedly seared into Pittsburgh's consciousness, the Pirates organization declared to itself and to the world that nearly two full decades of ineptitude was enough. The organization sent a clear message to players and fans alike that the losing over when it designated awful, seldom-used reliever Jose Ascanio for assignment.

"We think we've finally figured out what was wrong this whole time," Pirates GM Neal Huntington said. "Someone forgot to convert from metric back to English. The updated numbers suggest that with this one dude out of the picture, we may not lose again this season."

Upon filing the transaction's necessary paperwork with the league, Huntington immediately advanced to GO, collected $200, and acquired Boardwalk from the Dodgers in exchange for Ventnor and Baltic Avenues.

Sent shock waves through the MLB draft by selecting Josh Bell, a high school hitter of considerable talent who had told every team not to draft him because he was committed to going to college.

Anyone who says they're committed to playing college ball, yet retains Scott Boras as a personal adviser can't be terribly committed to anything. As an aside, allow this to serve as example #4,890 of why baseball is so messed up. A high school player can retain the services of the sport's most powerful player agent on a pro bono basis to gain earning leverage, yet compete in college as an amateur. This one's on the NCAA, though, and not Major League Baseball.

I'm also not sure it's accurate to say that drafting Bell sent shock waves through the draft. This kid was going to get drafted, simply because it makes more sense to secure his draft rights than not to. The surprising part is how high he went, given either how serious he is about going to college, or how serious he is about commanding upwards of $6.5 million in bonus money. A lot of teams would have waited until the later rounds to take a flyer on Bell. That the Pirates used their second-round pick to draft him suggests that they're probably serious about making an attempt at signing him. And even if they don't or are not able to, they'll receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in next year's draft, as was the case when they failed to sign Tanner Scheppers.

It's also worth noting that a component of the next collective bargaining agreement likely to change between now and next year could do away with suggested slotting for draft picks and institute mandatory slotting, meaning teams wouldn't be able to pay way over the league-suggested dollar figure for draft picks. The Pirates have taken outrageous advantage of this the last three years by giving huge bonuses to later-round picks like Robbie Grossman and Zach Von Rosenberg to lure them away from college commitments. If this is to be the last year teams can throw huge bonuses at draft picks, the Pirates could certainly go out with a bang.

Rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to win a game that seemed lost, 8-5, over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Big win for the program. Huge win. And you know what made it all possible, right? Jose Ascanio? Gone.

Tune in tonight, when the Paul Maholm-Zach Duke match up opens up a black hole that swallows the world.

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