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Reliever Train Whistles; Dave Littlefield is Funny

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A couple notes from this article: first, Jonah Bayliss has been sent to Indianapolis. No replacement has been announced yet, but it'll be somebody just as bad, probably John Wasdin. As the article notes, Wasdin has somehow managed to rack up 33 strikeouts and zero walks at Indy - he struck out 21 of those batters in his last two starts - despite barely managing an ERA under six and only posting one quality start out of five. Let's just chalk up that 33/0 K/BB as a curiosity, not something we should even be a little bit excited about, especially given Jim Tracy's tendency to go all Pat-Sajack-Let's Spin-the-Wheel when selecting relievers. Bayliss is bad but has some chance of someday being better; Wasdin is just bad. I can't blame the Pirates for trying to shake things up, but I can blame them for not having better options than John Wasdin.

Dave Littlefield, from the same article, talking about the fundamentals:

"It's something Jim Tracy and I have talked about, that there's minor-league development and major-league development, too," Littlefield said. "When you look at experience, we have a very young group as you go around the diamond as compared to other teams."

That's just a pathetic and unintentionally hilarious explanation, given that most of the main position players - Jason Bay, Adam LaRoche, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Xavier Nady, and Chris Duffy - are inarguably at the age when they should be in their primes, and the other starters (Jose Bautista, Ronny Paulino and, sometimes, Ryan Doumit) are all 26. The Pirates' position players really aren't young at all. It's the starting pitchers that are relatively young, and they aren't really the ones having trouble with fundamentals. If the Pirates are still waiting for Ronny Paulino to learn to catch a ball at age 26, their approach to player evaluation is even more absurd than we thought.

Speaking of which, Gene Collier has a fun game: conduct a "backdraft" in which current Pirates players are kicked off the roster one by one, Survivor-style. Purely in the spirit of fun - or anti-fun, or whatever - here are my picks:

  1. Wasdin - I don't want to have to write about him again when he inevitably gives up a grand slam with the bases loaded and the Pirates up by a run in the seventh inning of a game next week. It's rarely fun to repeat yourself.
  2. Paulino - if he doesn't want to be here, I don't want him to be here, either.
  3. Wilson - there are a number of players who are currently hurting the team more, but I'd be happy to get rid of his contract and call up Brian Bixler. Plus, wouldn't it be fun to get rid of Jack Wilson? The Pirates would have to completely rethink their marketing strategy, which would be funny. And it'd be the end of an era, which wouldn't mean much in pure baseball terms, but sure would be nice psychologically. Plus we wouldn't have to continue to read Wilson's mix of platitudes, apologies and mixed metaphors anymore. Seriously, we're not "throwing in the towel," but we need to "dial it in"? Wilson juggles an entire arsenal of verbal tricks, and sure as eggs are eggs, they're all guaranteed to get my goat.
  4. Nate McLouth - I didn't un-pick Tony Armas here because I still hold some vague hope that he could succeed if used exclusively as a one-inning reliever. Besides, I agree with Collier - at this point, you have to wonder what McLouth has done to earn what seems to be a solidly entrenched spot on the Pirates' bench.
  5. Duffy - Tike Redman with better defense. Duffy's a bad baseball player, and we'll all be better off once the Pirates stop pretending there's upside here.