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Pirates Q&A

UPDATE: The Q&A has been changed. It now only says the 2002 draft was bad, and not that the 2001 draft was bad.

Here's this week's Q&A at the Post-Gazette.

One thing: I guess it's a matter of opinion, but I have to quibble with this:

Still, as you seem to see for yourself, the well of position players at the top two levels is extraordinarily dry...

The Pirates' explanation for this, you might have read, is that the move of several players to the majors over the past two seasons is to blame, and that it takes time to replenish. Upon closer inspection, though, the more direct reason appears to be very poor drafts for the two years preceding a good one in 2003.

I have no problem with Kovacevic's characterization of Dave Littlefield's 2003 draft as a good one (the Bucs got Paul Maholm, Tom Gorzelanny and Josh Sharpless), nor with his opinion that 2002 was a bad one (the Bucs got only Brad Eldred, Matt Capps and relief prospect Dave Davidson). But I have to wonder about two things relating to Cam Bonifay's 2001 draft:

  1. What would the current weakness of the upper minors have to do with a draft that happened over five years ago? Any genuinely good players from that draft would almost certainly have reached the majors already. If the upper minors stinks now, that's not Bonifay's fault.
  2. The 2001 draft wasn't even bad. Bonifay got Zach Duke, who's currently in the rotation; Chris Shelton, who has already turned in one good big-league season and one average one; and Chris Duffy, who's a regular, albeit a bad one (today's ridiculous performance notwithstanding). In addition, Littlefield was able to trade two other players from that draft, Kody Kirkland and Jeff Keppinger, to get players who ended up with the Pirates.
I admit the 2001 draft hasn't turned out quite as well for the Bucs as Bonifay's excellent 2000 draft did, but then again the 2001 draft would have been fantastic if the Bucs had signed Stephen Drew, who they picked in the 11th round. Unfortunately, Bonifay was fired shortly after the draft, so it was Littlefield who failed to sign Drew. (I'm not sure how signable Drew was, but if this article is accurate he probably wouldn't have cost the Pirates much; maybe WTM can help us out in the comments.)

There's certainly gray area here, but it seems like a stetch to place part of the blame for the absence of good players at Class AAA on a draft that happened more than five years ago (and, by extension, a GM who was fired more than five years ago).