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News Roundup

There's lots of interesting news today, and much of it is collected here.

-P- The Bucs traded Class AAA starter Brandon Duckworth to the Royals for cash. This move is insignificant, but it shows the Pirates' confidence in Kip Wells and Tom Gorzelanny. Wells, by the way, just had a nice rehab start in Class A Lynchburg.

-P- Jeromy Burnitz hurt his leg today. He's day to day.

-P- Dave Littlefield has come to realize that the Pirates just might be sellers at the trading deadline:

"We're going to have to make some very serious strides for what I would characterize as doing something, meaning getting into the playoff hunt," he said...

"We're in a much, much different position now. If you look at the team, we had a couple of holes coming into the season that we filled with veterans. With Freddy playing the way he has, that looks like less of a hole for the future. Obviously, Bautista has done a nice job, and we'll see where he fits in. But a high percentage of our guys are going to be around for the next 3-5 years, and we have much better options if we were to trade a veteran player."

This is an interesting catch-22. The Pirates are, on the whole, probably better off without the veterans, who, as a group, have contributed just about nothing. Jeromy Burnitz, Jose Hernandez and Joe Randa have been beyond awful; Sean Casey has either been injured or running like an injured person the whole year, though he has hit well lately; Damaso Marte and Roberto Hernandez have been good; Victor Santos has been, well, a placeholder. Terrible performances from Burnitz, Jose Hernandez and Randa have probably offset the decent ones by Casey, Marte, Roberto Hernandez, and Santos. And yet the Pirates will not trade these players until they drive the team even further out of contention.

It is, of course, true that some young players have performed poorly too. But those young players may improve, and even if they don't, they're not taking up huge portions of the payroll. This team's veteran players have proven themselves absolutely unnecessary - would the Pirates really have been any worse off starting the year with Freddy Sanchez, Craig Wilson, Jose Bautista, Josh Sharpless and minor league contract Scott Strickland having big roles instead of Randa, Casey, Burnitz, Roberto Hernandez and Marte? Losing the latter group, or at least some of it, would probably make the team better in the short term.

It is also true that Littlefield probably includes Craig Wilson on the list of veterans he might trade. Fine. Trading Wilson and a couple of the individual veterans listed above, like Marte, would indeed make the Pirates slightly worse in the short term and perhaps better in the long term. I'm just saying that Littlefield's strategy seems bass-ackwards, since, in general, the veterans currently on the '06 Bucs don't even make the team better in the short term, and even in '06 the Pirates probably would benefit from getting rid of them. Which makes Littlefield's current strategy - he'll keep them until the Bucs are thoroughly, entirely out of contention - somewhat ironic.

That's enough confusing writing from me for today.

-P- Speaking of Jose Hernandez and Craig Wilson, Jim Tracy should stop removing Wilson from close games and replacing him with Hernandez, especially when he knows Wilson's spot in the order will come up again. Wilson made a bad play in right field today, so perhaps this isn't the best day to be saying this, but he's not a liability out there. The ball is hardly ever hit there. And a lot can change with a couple of innings left. If you remove Wilson with two innings left, there's a good chance the game will end with a different score than the score when he leaves. If you have a tenuous lead after seven innings, there's at least a reasonable chance that lead will be gone by the end of the game. That's not an indictment of the Pirates' bullpen; that's just the way it is. And if there's a good chance that lead might disappear, Wilson should be in the game.

Of course, I'm preaching to the choir here. In Tracyland, Wilson can't even get a starting job.