I realize there are many people about this site who understand everything I am going to say perfectly. This post is not for them. Nor is this post for those who angrily yell at everything the front office does with little reason other than the fact that the front office is doing it. This is an attempt to explain to others why the organization is not currently calling up the prospects we have been hearing so much about, and why, in my personal opinion, they should not. It will (hopefully) address specific issues some people have been questioning.
1. It is not completely about money.
Saving money always helps but, contrary to popular belief, Bob Nutting is not trying to steal money from everyone. If he was, he could probably just encourage people to drink more, and hire pickpockets to attend games. The main issue in delaying prospects that deserve to be up is control. It is a small price to pay holding a player back for a month or two, so the team can have an additional year of control down the road. Now this is where people may question money again, why they don't just sign said player down the road. Well, the Pirates are still a small market team, and while payroll is small now, who knows what contractual obligations they may have down the road when the time comes to pay up? The Pirates currently only generate more revenue than the Florida Marlins, and only by a paltry million dollars or so. If the prospects do not get it done, and revenue does not increase, it may be impossible to keep said players if they turn into stars. Holding them back a month or two allows another year of attempting to be competitive, and increasing revenue so the player can be kept. If the Pirates are successful and revenue booms this could be a moot point, but as is the point in this post, it's better safe than sorry. An additional year of control in a competitive year is much more valuable than a year of control when they are going to lose regardless.
2. The road to stardom is littered with failed prospects.
Some players get called up and are immediately great. Others fail miserably and never make anything of themselves. The Pirates are in a situation with incredible pressure to win from the fans, and to best make sure that happens, they have to ignore those very fans at present. Players that stay in the minors for a time to work out the kinks in their game tend to have a higher rate of success than those that don't. The Pirates are not in a position where they can miss much, if at all. They will be vilified if a player like Alvarez or Tabata fails, so why take that chance? They might succeed immediately, but they might not. And while a more successful team than the Pirates can take these chances on a player (like the Braves), the Pirates cannot. They must do everything they can do assure success with their prospects. Keeping their prospects in the minors is no guarantee to do that, but it ups the odds. The Pirates front office is walking a tightrope, there is no margin for error. Plus, evey player still has something they can work on in the minors. None of them are complete, as Cutch was when he was finally brought up. If there are things they can still do in the minors (Power and line drive % with Tabata, plate discipline with Alvarez, etc), there is no need to bring them to the majors. Delaying prospects in a time when they won't win is a sacrifice that is necessary to up the odds of success.
3. Now does not matter.
This is the biggest issue my dad has. He always asks me why the Pirates don't go out and sign a couple free agents to make the current major league team better. Well, aside from the fact that it wouldn't work (as Dave Littlefield proved), playing time now must be given to the guys currently on the team. Many of them probably won't make anything of themselves, but there is a small chance a few will. Many players on the team, like Clement, LaRoche, Milledge, Pierce, and even Cedeno, were all highly regarded at once, and still have some potential. Of all players available to the Pirates right now, there isn't a combination that will make the team win now, so the playing time is better used for guys who still have upside. Now this playing time could also be spread to prospects, but as discussed before, it isn't worth it to give up a year of control, and the prospects still have work they can do in the minors. The point is, prospects won't make the team win, and it could be detrimental to the future, and free agents will not make the team win, so why not give the time to guys on the roster with upside?
I'm almost ready to step down off my soapbox now. But it's not like I don't understand where the frustration comes from. The Pirates have won a whopping once (I think) since I've been alive. I would like a winning season as much as anyone else, and would love to see what the kids can do. But baseball decisions come first, and it's important to think with the head, and not the heard when discussing a baseball organization. All factors considered, nobody is perfect, and the team is making more good decisions than bad ones. It sucks now, we all get ribbed for being Pirate fans and it's annoying. But that still doesn't mean it's time to make rash decisions. It's better to be safe than sorry, and all we can do is be patient and hope for the best. I hope this post answered or clarified something for someone, but regardless I can only close it with a statement from none other than Yoda.
Patience, my young padawan.