The 2010 Pirates have consisted of a ton of terrible players. Akinori Iwamura, Jeff Clement, Ryan Church, Andy LaRoche, Ronny Cedeno, Bobby Crosby, John Raynor, Ryan Doumit's defense, Charlie Morton, Daniel McCutchen, Zach Duke, Brian Burres, Jeff Karstens, Brendan Donnelly, Javier Lopez, Jack Taschner, Hayden Penn, and Brian Bass. There was even an Argenis Diaz sighting! Another player has been disappointing even though I used to hype him as well, Lastings Milledge, and he may be a 3/4 outfielder even though he is frustrating. In addition, some top prospects such as Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Brad Lincoln have stumbled out of the gate to some extent.
All this adds up to a historically bad first half, in which the team has scored 259 runs and given up 444 runs, good for a -185 run differential (runs scored minus runs allowed). After the jump, we'll take a look at how this rate stacks up against the all-time not-so-greats.
The 2010 Bucs have a -185 run differential in 81 games. If they kept up that pace for the entire year, they would have 259 * 2 = 518 runs scored, and 444 * 2 = 888 runs allowed. 518 minus 888 equals a -370 differential over the 162 game season.
-370 would be the worst in the modern era (starting in 1903, the first World Series and beginning of the standard 154 game schedule).
The worst team in the last 107 years is the 1932 Boston Red Sox, and they scored 566 runs while giving up 915. That's a -349 run differential, but it was done in only 154 games. Unfortunately, that doesn't make our first half Pirates any better. Adjusting our first half for 154 games, the Pirates are on pace for a run differential of -351.
Similarly, the Bucs come out behind the 1915 Philadelphia Athletics as well. Their differential is -343, the Pirates are on a 152-game pace for -347. The rest are self-explanatory. Over the first half of 2010, the Pirates have been worse than the 1962 Mets, 2003 Tigers, and 1911 Boston Rustlers, among other disasters, in terms of runs scored and runs allowed. And certainly, they have put themselves on pace for the worst mark in modern baseball history, or at least one of the worst. (***The table of lowest run differentials since 1903 is at the end of the post.***)
So what does this mean? What is the meaning of an historically bad major league team along with a relatively barren minor league club?
My heart wants to believe in the Andrew McCutchen/Pedro Alvarez group. But man, it's getting tough as we see how things play out. My gut disagrees with my heart, for sure.
My gut sees another 6 or so years before the Bucs are competitors (EDIT: maybe 5 years with some good breaks like Colton Cain and Bryan Morris developing like we want into competitive starters) . They tried to put something together for the next few years, but given the Pirates budget constraints it just doesn't look like it's going to happen. McCutchen and Alvarez are impact players, but it will be awfully hard on their back trying to carry the team.
Huntington and the front office tried to put something together in the short term. Thus, many of the players acquired were at the age where they would hit their stride in 2012-2013 or so.
I feel bad for Huntington in some ways, because he's not given a major league budget by Nutting for the major league club, and he's taken much of the heat for the epically bad product.
Also, i realize that realistically, the trade chips he inherited (McLouth, Wilson, Sanchez, etc.) were overrated. But whoever's fault the situation is, the relative short-term (of the next few years) just doesn't look like it's working at all. There isn't the breadth or depth of talent.
If Huntington might have done two things differently, one would be, possibly, to get younger (high risk/reward A-ball) in the trades instead of LaRoches and Ohlendorfs. It's impossible to say if and when that could have been done, though.
Second would be to get quality free agents, if only to keep McCutchen and Alvarez in the minors for an extra year of control, while not having a 100 loss team in the meantime. Neither one was no-doubt ready when called upon, and now the FO will be stretching to the max trying to build a team around the two before they depart.
Still, there is hope in the tunnel, but it might be more than just a couple of years away given the money situation. Keep drafting like they did this year, going very heavy on high school products for the next couple of years to go along with planting more seeds in the international markets. That's basically what they are doing now, though, so I'm encouraged by that.
I'd suggest $25-30 million the next couple of years for free agency, but it's never going to happen. Also, there's not enough lipstick to put on this pig. Again, it just looks like the long view is more realistic barring an unforeseen infusion of money. I hate to move the time line back another 6 or so years, and I wouldn't rule out Cutch and Alvarez making the Pirates competitors through sheer will. I wouldn't bet on it, though.
Now, I'll try to add the historical worst run differential table below.
Pittsburgh Pirates 162-game pace
|-370 run differential (runs scored - runs allowed)
|2010||Pittsburgh Pirates 154-game pace||-351|
|1932||Boston Red Sox (154 games)||-349|
|2010||Pittsburgh Pirates 152-game pace||-347|
|1915||Philadelphia Athletics (152 games)||-343|
|1962||New York Mets||-331|
|1945||Philadelphia Blue Jays||-317|
|1937||St. Louis Browns||-308|
|1939||St. Louis Browns||-302|
|1910||St. Louis Browns||-292|
|1903||St. Louis Cardinals||-290|
|1974||San Diego Padres||-289|
|1925||Boston Red Sox||-283|
|1969||San Diego Padres||-278|
|1963||New York Mets||-273|
|1955||Kansas City Athletics||-273|
|1926||Boston Red Sox||-273|
|1951||St. Louis Browns||-271|
|1936||St. Louis Browns||-260|
|1927||Boston Red Sox||-259|
|1965||New York Mets||-257|