It's been a slow offseason, to the point that the Pirates' failure to sign Chad Durbin qualifies as headline news. It's getting to the point where it's fair to wonder why there hasn't been much serious activity so far - really, the only thing Neal Huntington has done is acquire a bunch of live arms to shore up next year's bullpen. While that's important, and while we've been waiting for a while for the Pirates to shore up the back end of their 40-man roster, there's so much to be done and less and less time to do it.
Huntington's in a tough spot. In many ways, this isn't an ideal time to rebuild. The NL Central is so terrible that even the Pirates could sneak into contention with a few deft moves and an incredible streak of luck. And there's little of interest in the minors or majors. Trading major league players isn't very likely to net anywhere near the haul of talent that, for example, the Marlins got before the 2006 season, and there'd be little to augment it with anyway.
At the same time, though, a number of players on the Pirates' roster, like Xavier Nady and several relievers, could be traded without much short-term damage to the Pirates. I'd think that these players would be moved no matter what. And I also think that decisive, bold action is required here. Is the division so bad that it can be won with a big offseason? That seems incredibly doubtful, but if Huntington and the Pirates think so, then let's see it. We'll need to see far more from them than just "competitive" but unsuccessful bids for the likes of Chad Durbin and Luis Vizcaino.
If not, then there's probably no particular benefit to sitting on our hands here. The Pirates' most valuable properties are Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny. The best argument against trading them is that they're under control for a long time (four years in Snell's case, five in Gorzelanny's) and thus are more valuable to the Pirates than whatever they might bring back. But the more I think about it, the more I doubt that's a compelling argument. If we'd traded Jason Bay two years ago, we'd be getting back much more than we're going to get back now. And even if Snell and Gorzelanny don't vanish like Bay did, it's getting more and more doubtful that the Pirates will reap any serious benefits from them before they leave anyway. It's depressing, but it's true.
So maybe the boldest move of all would be for the Bucs to move Snell and/or Gorzelanny for multiple young players. It'd be incredibly unpopular, but at least it'd be a plan, and it'd be a plan with some chance of working.
The 2008 draft will be a defining moment for Huntington, and that's probably going to be much more important than anything that happens this offseason. But in the meantime, what should we do? By that point, the Bay/Nady/Sanchez group that'll be eligible for free agency after 2009 will be one step closer to leaving.
All of which is to say that I understand the indecision Huntington may be feeling. But they more I think about it, the more I think that it may be time to do something big.
By the way, I know it's not reasonable by any standard, but I find Curt Schilling's self-righteousness more offensive than anything Roger Clemens is accused of doing.