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Classic Dave Littlefield; And, Protesters Win!


The legend continues
Photo: trigger25

This is a gem:

Most teams contacted Boras to inquire about Wieters, but not the Pirates, who had the No. 4 overall pick. So, Boras, according to a source in his agency, phoned Dave Littlefield, the general manager at the time, to find out why. The team's response was that it did not view Wieters as a top-five talent, in part because of his throwing. Boras was incredulous that Wieters' throwing -- widely viewed as fine, anyway -- could be prioritized over his switch-hitting, power-hitting abilities, and the conversation soon ended.

Brilliant. Just when you think Littlefield was done, there's more. It'll be a good day in Pittsburgh when these sorts of stories stop slipping out and the residue from the Littlefield administration finally washes away, but for now, this is comedy gold. To anyone who isn't following Danny Moskos' career, that is.

Also from the same article, and interesting for entirely different reasons, is this:

Pirates owner Bob Nutting was embarrassed by the vocal fan protest that followed the Wieters episode, and that contributed to his firing of Littlefield two months later. Even when Nutting hired team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington in September, the Boras/Wieters issue remained the focus of media questioning.

I think those of you who protested, and were ridiculed over and over by folks at the game or on message boards for supposedly turning your backs on the team or for playing into ownership's hands by buying tickets or for engaging in an activity that simply didn't matter, deserve a hand right now. Here it is: the fan protest "embarrassed" the Pirates into remaking themselves into a professionally-run ballclub. The health of the franchise is pretty obviously better than it was a year ago, and a year from now it will probably be better still. You weren't turning your backs on the team, you were strengthening it by calling attention to problems that everyone should have been able to see. Kudos. 

By the way, here's what I wrote about the protest at the time. It's one of my better articles, I think, and it's stood up well.

UPDATE: Oops--Kovacevic says he wasn't referring to the actual protest, but to the general "outcry."

-P- Elsewhere in the P-G, the Alvarez mess obviously reduces the Pirates' chances of sending him to play Fall or Winter ball. On a related note, I just saw the roster of the Scottsdale Scorpions, for whom all the Pirates' Arizona Fall League prospects will be playing. 

They're a depressing bunch Let's see: a starting pitcher grabbed as free talent from the Astros (Jimmy Barthmaier), a fringe starting pitching prospect (Michael Crotta), a non-prospect starting pitcher (Jared Hughes), a reliever (Jeff Sues), a fringe-at-best catching prospect (Steven Lerud), and a C-grade infield prospect (Shelby Ford). None of these guys will crack any top prospects lists next year.

Many of the Bucs' best prospects were either just acquired in the draft or are about to arrive in the big leagues, and the AFL tends to be geared toward players who are between those two types on the development ladder, but I do wonder why the Bucs didn't send, for example, Jamie Romak, who has obvious issues to work on and would be well suited to the league development-wise. 

Anyway, then I looked over the rest of the team and didn't see a lot of familiar names, and I realized the other teams contributing to Scottsdale's roster followed the same pattern. There aren't a lot of good prospects, and there's only one player who will be 22 or younger by the time the AFL season starts. Andrew McCutchen played in the league last year; if the Pirates had sent him again this year, he would've been the youngest player on the team by nine months.

Other teams sent real prospects (the Brewers, for example, sent several of their best), but the teams that contributed to the Scorpions simply didn't. There's not necessarily any problem with this, unless you live in Scottsdale, but the Scorpions aren't going to be worth much of your attention.