clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

An Interview* With Dave Littlefield

With the trading deadline out of the way, Littlefield took a few minutes out of his day to have a fake discussion with Bucs Dugout about the many issues facing the Pirates.

Bucs Dugout: Mr. Littlefield, thank you for taking the time to have a conversation with me today.

Dave Littlefield: Whoo! Yeah! Bucs Dugout! I've got to tell you, man, I really dig your stuff.

BD: You do?!

Littlefield: Oh yeah, I look at all the fan sites. Van Slyke, Romo Phone Home, Honest Wagner, Pirate Player Profiles. I love 'em. Oh, and especially that Irate Fans! Vive le Resistance, baby!

BD: But almost all of the writers of those sites believe you are an awful GM and that you should be fired.

Littlefield: And I agree with them! Sweet Jesus, do I agree with them.

"Jumping Jack
Wilson on a pogo
stick, what does a
guy have to do to get
fired up in here?"
-Pirates GM Dave Littlefield

BD: ....

Littlefield: Look, I'll be honest with you. When I interviewed for this gig in 2001, Kevin McClatchy promised I'd have my run of the team. And for a while, I sort of did. The Jason Schmidt trade was my fault. I'll cop to that. So was the Damaso Marte-for-Matt Guerrier trade. But I also dealt Todd Ritchie for Kip Wells and Josh Fogg. I wasn't doing great, but I wasn't doing horribly either.

But then one day in 2002, Kevin came to my office and started saying all these weird things about how he always wanted to keep the payroll low and how we had to make "safe" choices in order to field a "competitive" team. And he said that I had to take Bryan Bullington with the first pick in the draft. My scouts wanted B.J. Upton, but Kev wouldn't allow it. And then he said he was going to be more involved in our transactions, and he described this plan where we were going to dump Aramis Ramirez for nothing, lower payroll and acquire Randall Simon twice.

There were other details too, but I've kind of blocked them out. I have to tell you, though, man, it was harrowing. I've never seen anything like it. Kevin kept cackling - seriously, cackling - and he was talking in this hideous voice. He sounded like the host of Tales From the Crypt. And he told me he'd never let me quit or he'd start talking in that voice again and he'd haunt my dreams. So since then, I've been doing everything I can to get fired.

BD: That's... awful? And it explains a lot. But it doesn't explain everything. What about the Brian Giles trade?

Littlefield: Oh geez. That was a debacle. Well, as you'll recall, I wanted Xavier Nady in that trade. I just thought it would be funny, since he's such a similar player to Craig Wilson, who we already weren't letting play. But [Padres GM Kevin] Towers wouldn't do it.

You have to realize, I haven't paid much attention to players on other teams since that weird incident in 2002. To be totally honest with you, I've spent most of the last four years in a haze of alcohol and depression - I'm just like a lot of Pirates fans that way. This year before the trading deadline, other GMs kept saying that I was asking too much for my players, and the fans wanted to know why I waited until the last second to do anything.

Well, the reason why is that I was on a complete bender from the beginning of July until about six hours before the deadline, so when teams called and asked about the Pirates I would just ask for the first players I could think of off the top of my head. Remember, I haven't actually paid attention to other teams in years, and I was totally drunk. My head still hurts. So when the Angels called and asked about Craig Wilson, I just said I wanted Vlad Guerrero and Francisco Rodriguez, and then I probably said something totally unintelligible, and then I threw up. I thought that was pretty funny at the time, but the truth is that this job is so frigging depressing that I have to say absurd things like that just to keep sane. I mean, think about it - [Angels GM Bill] Stoneman has [owner Arte] Moreno with money out the yinyang, and my boss is the frigging cryptkeeper. It's completely unfair. He should give me Vladimir Guerrero!

The same thing happened the first time the Yankees called about Craig and Roberto Hernandez. I was like, "Sure, just give me Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter... and you pay their entire salaries!" When I'm trading while drunk, I usually use "And you pay their entire salaries!" sort of like Rodney Dangerfield uses "I get no respect at all!" It's kind of a catchphrase. But only when I'm drunk.

So anyway, Towers wouldn't let me have Nady. So I put down the phone, picked up a bottle of JD and told my secretary to get the Padres' media guide and pick out an outfielder at random. I thought that was sort of funny. So she came back and said, "Here's one: Jason Bay." So I said, "Who's Jason Bay?" My secretary said, "Oh, this 24-year-old minor league outfielder who has been traded twice," and I said, "Perfect!" I should have looked at the stats, but again, I was drunk. So I really screwed that one up.

BD: The funny thing is, you just acquired Nady.

Littlefield: Yeah! It is funny, and thank you for noticing! You'll notice who I traded him for, too - Oliver Perez, who was also in the Giles deal. And I traded Craig Wilson, who's basically like Nady but better, only minutes later - for absolutely nothing!

And did you see what I did earlier in the day? I traded Sean Casey to the Tigers so that he could replace Chris Shelton, who I lost in the 2003 Rule 5 draft! Not to pat myself on the back, but when I sober up, my sense of humor is pretty awesome.

BD: Okay... what about the Freddy Sanchez trade? That was a good baseball move for the Bucs.

Littlefield: Another debacle! McClatchy was responsible for that one.

BD: What?!

Littlefield: Yeah. [Boston Red Sox GM] Theo Epstein was pretty new at his job then, and he didn't know that I'd actually prefer to get junk in trades so that McClatchy will fire me. So anyway, I traded Scott Sauerbeck and Mike Gonzalez to the Sox for Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez, which, you know... who?

BD: ....

Littlefield: Exactly. Anyway, I thought that was a pretty funny trade, especially since I dumped Bronson Arroyo in order to clear roster space for Jeff Suppan, who the Sox were also interested in at the time, and then the Sox were the team that ended up claiming Arroyo.

BD ....

Littlefield: Okay, so it's not as funny as the Nady trade. So anyway, I decided to say that Lyon was injured. It wasn't true, but it made the Pirates look bad, so I thought it was funny. So then it was time to make another trade with the Sox, and Crypt-Breath McClatchy came to my office and was like, "Get me Freddy Sanchez!" He thinks he's George Steinbrenner or something. I have no idea where he got that name.

And Theo, bless his heart, didn't know I was tanking the team, so he said, "Ok fine, we'll give you Sanchez and Gonzalez for Lyon, Martinez and Suppan." I knew that trade was bad news, but Theo's so young and idealistic. I didn't want to disillusion him.

BD: If McClatchy scares you so much, why are you now saying such nasty things about him?

Littlefield: He can't read.

BD: His family runs a chain of newspapers!

Littlefield: Trust me on this.

BD: Why did you agree to give this interview?

Littlefield: Did you not just see the day of trading I had? Kevin has to fire me. At least I think he does. I mean, if not... well, jumping Jack Wilson on a pogo stick, what does a guy have to do to get fired up in here?

So I've been thinking, once I'm fired from this job, I want to get another job. I'm a drunk, and I'm petulant, but I'm articulate and smart and I'm not a bad guy. I don't want to work in baseball anymore, but I would like to stay in the Pittsburgh area. I like those Primanti Brothers sandwiches. So whoever my next bosses are, they're probably going to think they know who I am. But my public persona isn't the real me, it's just a ruse to get myself fired.

Jamie Walters once said that when he wanted to get away from Beverly Hills, 90210 and start a career as a musician, people kept showing up at his concerts carrying signs that said, "WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN TO DONNA?!!" Well, I don't want people showing up at my next job with signs saying, "WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN TO CRAIG?!!" Ultimately, I'm in the same boat as the rest of you. I want the same things as you. I don't really care if Bucs Dugout and Irate Fans flip out at me all the time, but if McClatchy is going to get involved in baseball decisions and keep the payroll ridiculously low and insist that I make "safe" free agent signings and draft picks, there's only so much I can do. Plus, he cackles. He's the problem. So the only thing Pirate fans can do is hope he sells the team.

BD: So, regarding Bucs Dugout, and all the fan sites, and Irate Fans...

Littlefield: Vive le Resistance!!!