It shouldn't surprise you that the Pittsburgh Pirates' Second Annual Playoff Collapse is wearing me out; last year's collapse nearly killed this blog over the course of the winter and this year's team is better, with more wins, more talent, and a stronger playoff position to piss away. That makes the unraveling that much more exasperating to me.
Here's what I've been dreading all weekend, and thus the reason that I just didn't write and mostly ignored the Pirates: after almost a full season of being a real baseball fan, it's time to go back to being a Pirate fan. That means that games can't be watched just for their individual value and the drama that they create inside of the playoff race; everything that's done now has to be done with an eye towards the future. What made this Pirate team good enough to stay in contention for most of the season? What can be counted on to happen again in 2013? What can't be counted on? What holes does this team have that truly need filled next year? Can they be filled?
It's not that the Pirates are out of playoff contention right now, just that they probably will be soon and now that that's happening, it's time to move our sights from the present off to some distant, murky, uncertain future yet again. Just thinking about having to do this again makes me tired.
I loveya Pat, your just like me - absolutely devastated right now. It's depressing. I'm 36, and was in my sports fanatic prime when Sid Bream slide across home. Nothng in sports could have been or will ever be more devastating. But I'm with ya, big time down about where things are headed, and ready to putthe final nail in the coffin IF they get swept.
That's the thing tho. they havent been swept by the cards yet. It sure feels like that's gona happen, I agree, but it hasnt. And tonight, for the first time in 18 years, we get to watch a game in Pittsburgh that matters. Matters big time. For us crazy Pirate fans, it IS a play-off game. Let's enjoy it. Lets root for AJ to dominate, and for Cutch to just relax and let go of te pressure and start ripping the ball to all fields again. Let's root for Neil Walker to bet butterflies case he just ripped one into the gap in front of hopefully 30,000 plus of his biggst fans. Hell, maybe even pedro will run into one and send one in the river.
It can happen. When the Pirates gav up that 3-2 lead in the 15th last Sunday, did any Pirate fan on the planet really think they were gonna win that game? F@ck now. But they did. Win tonight (or at least win thsi series), and then who knows what kind of mini-run they can go on v the Cubs, Stros, Brewers, etc. With a little revenge mixed in (trust me, Votto or Brue will bedrilled in the first inning next time) v. the Reds, too.
Pat, you gotta snap out of it. I'm right there with ya, but I refuse to NOT let my crushed soul enjoy the play-off game tonight. Cause that's what it is. And I'm gonna hope for some butterflies and a huge win. Unless they give up 2 GD-EmmEffin' runs in the first inning again of course. Then I'll go right back into the dumps. If they lose this series, then we can talk about Cole and Taillon and K-Mc and Starling and the possibility of Snider being the next Brain Giles.
But until they lose this series - we got a shot!
I've been watching the Pirates since I was a little kid. I am now 29; I vaguely remember them making the playoffs when I was in third grade.
None of this makes me want to say "I told you so" about how I, in fact, told you so only a few games out of the all-star break when they weren't playing the same baseball.
None of this makes me want to fire anyone, or get mad, although it is now clear that the Brad Lincoln trade was a disaster that has cost the Pirates several games.
It only makes me sad. I've just wanted so bad to see them make it. But they aren't making it. I've even had a recurring nocturnal dream about the Pirates making the playoffs for years.
Oh well, I suppose it's just a sport.
@PatStuart "it is now clear that the Brad Lincoln trade was a disaster that has cost the Pirates several games."
Lincoln hasn't exactly been lights-out since the Pirates traded him. He's only been in five games where the Jays were tied or ahead when he entered; and in two of those, he gave up three runs each.
If you prefer broader stats to individual games, Snider has an OPS+ of 113 for the Pirates and Lincoln an ERA+ of 83 for the Jays.
BBRef-WAR? -0.2 for Lincoln in TOR, +0.4 for Snider in PIT. FWAR: 0.0 for Lincoln/TOR, 0.4 Snider PIT. So by those metrics, Snider has been half a win more valuable than Lincoln since the trade.
However you slice it, it's at best hyperbole and at worst 180 degrees wrong to say that the Lincoln trade cost the Pirates several games.
@DGL @PatStuart You really shouldn't do what you just did by comparing the stats of Lincoln and Snyder pre and post trade. It's really not accurate. The question is, "What would the pitching quality of Lincoln have been had he remained with the Pirates?" If you wish to believe that Jeff's lack of success as a Blue Jay the past month is identical to how he would have performed with Pittsburgh go right on ahead. When people try to project like what you are doing it's all apples and oranges to me - and, it makes no sense. The same can be said for Travis Snyder and all of the others who find themselves in a new situation. One never knows.....
The Pirates are playing meaningful baseball at the end of August. It is somewhat likely that they will still be playing meaningful baseball the day that the Steelers start their regular season. And if we do have to move our sights from the present, it's not "to some distant, murky, uncertain future," it's simply "til next year" - like 28 other teams every season.
Come in off the ledge, Pat - it's not that bad.
This is defeatist. And yet, appropriate. Maybe we can kill two birds with one stone.
2013 potential pitchers (does not include all likely pitchers, like Jared Hughes, etc.)
Karstens -- is he your guy? I think he should at least start the year in the rotation.
Locke -- I was very impressed by Locke when I saw him whiff 10 Rochester Red Wings. He may not have #1 stuff, but he's mastered AAA and if I'm any judge of demeanor and body language, he knows it.
McPherson? I'm all for not rushing guys, but he's got a broad base of training now. If they keep him in AAA for service time issues to start next year, I'd still anticipate his arrival in June 2013. With 102 starts in the smalls already, I'd like to see him get his feet wet in the bullpen right now. This is not crazy -- this used to be the way starters broke in WAY back in the 1970's. Get used to big league hitters. Get exposed to how things work in the bigs. Yet do those thing at a lower-pressure, 1-2 innings at a time pace. If a player has any juice at all, this builds confidence. If he doesn't, he's not the guy you want on your team anyway.
Wilson -- I'd have him in the bullpen now, but keep him as a starter in AAA to start next year. By June, he'll either have shown that he's still not consistent enough to start in the bigs, but could be a good reliever, or he'll have developed even a small amount more consistency and could be in the mix to start.
Irwin -- will start in AAA, but for how long? By June 2013 he too will be closing in on about 100 minor league games.
Leroux -- enough experimenting. I think he's shown enough to at least get a shot at starting full time. But again, he should be in the bullpen now, or certainly next year.
Cole -- if he spends the entire year in AAA, where I assume he'll start 2013, something's gone wrong. But if you want to leave him out of the discussion, that's OK too.
Morris -- should be in the bullpen now, definitely next year.
There are 13 names who could reasonably be expected to see time in Pittsburgh in 2013, roles TBD. All but Cole and Black have already seen time in AAA. Even the short-time AAA guys are pretty well-seasoned. I don't think any of these can be considered "rushed" advancements. I don't mean they're all guaranteed success. Some may need more seasoning, but right now it's reasonable to think they could handle some sort of MLB duty by June 2013.
Now, Back to the Present -- which guys could help RIGHT NOW? Who can help stop this fade? I think several could have helped stop it before it started, but that's water under the bridge I guess. I'd still do the following:
Waive Correia and Bedard. Call up Locke and Morris.
To be fair, I hear comments like those from the Bright Sunny Optimists (TM) down at the bottom of the page on Pittsburgh talk radio all the time. It's great there are some true believers to counteract the mouthbreathers on PHB's blog but I'm sad to say I'm with Pat here: we've seen this story too many times to not know how it eventually ends.
This team isn't going to make the playoffs. Look at the teams they're competing against and seriously try and say they're the same caliber as the Braves or Cardinals. They played above their heads for 4 months and now it's crashing back to earth. I was just thinking last night that come Sept call-ups, they might be better served to play some rookies and prepare for next season but they aren't going to do that because for PR purposes they HAVE to keep the facade that they're in a playoff hunt up until the bitter bitter end.
From here on out, I'm firmly in the "Please please please finish over .500 club" (t-shirt and membership card in the mail!) I know Pat doesn't care about that so I totally understand why these remaining games really hold no interest for him. If I wasn't firmly in the PPPFO500 Club, I'd probably punt too.
I do not care what the talking heads on Root Sports say, this is a must win series. They have three games against a team they are trailing, whom they took two out of three a week and some change ago, and at home.
Management has done their best to not field the best team they can with it available, and it puts the idea into one's head that they feel that this year was never going to be the year. Hopefully that changes in the next week as playoff rosters get finalized.
The players on the field are playing their worst baseball of the year, it is simple as that. It was foolish to think the pitching would keep pace throughout the year without some hiccup, it is just made worse by how cold the bats have gotten.
All of this considered, I am not teetering on the Smithfield St bridge, looking down at the murky waters of the Mon, and thinking about my diving form. There is still six weeks of baseball to enjoy.
Looks like only player to be ejected is Rod Barajas May 2, 2012.
What I keep seeing around the blogs and hear people talking about is the night that Andrew McCutchen got hit in Cincinnati and no retaliation.
Since then his performance and that of the team has been terrible.
Why don't you write a front page article about this topic and solicit some input. What are other players saying who have been in the similar position. When the team does not have your back (and the Pirates did nothing to show they had his back) do you just kinda quit? Is this nothing at all and just something only a few people remember? Is it just coincidence?
By the way, who was the last Pirate player to be ejected? These guys just don't care. The manager might be ejected once in awhile, but players don't even seem to hardly argue. I think it is because most of them know they are just lucky to even be on an MLB team.
Years ago, when he was saying farewell to the yearly production of Baseball Abstract, Bill James noted that the one thing that would lead him to write a scathing response was receiving a letter from someone telling him what he should write about.
Look, it's Pat's blog, and he's done it awfully well for an awful long time. I think it's presumptuous for any of us to tell him how to feel about this ballclub or how to write about it.
After the Chapman HBP that everyone seems to think ended the season, the Pirates almost beat the Reds on Saturday, beat them soundly on Sunday, and split with a decent Diamondbacks team the next week. Things didn't really start to come apart until the series with the Padres that was a week after the incident. Trying to point to one thing as the reason this is happening is pointless. There are a hundred reasons the Pirates are falling apart, and none of them are Aroldis Chapman hitting Andrew McCutchen.
Also, were people expecting the Pirates to walk into the wild-card after a great 4 months? don't give up.. Tom has a pep talk for you, skip to 1:21: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndL7y0MIRE4&feature=related
Yeah, I have to agree. I think you should have left this in the coffers for another week or so. Things are bleak, but they're much less bleak when you realize they still have 17 to play against the Cubs, Mets and Astros and 6 against the Brewers. Not that recent performance suggests they will even win 8 of those games, but it makes these past 2 weeks seem a bit easier to put in the rear view. Just a week ago, we were all pretty hyped about taking 2 of 3 from St. Louis. For someone who preaches sample size, 2 weeks of bad baseball doesn't necessitate giving up.. just as last years' collapse doesn't necessarily mean they can't pull out of a slump at the end of the year this year.
Wow! Where did this guy come from? Is he watching the same team that we're all watching? I think the post is spot on. The bottom line is, if the Bucs DON'T win two if three, the probably ARE going to drop out of it, and a National TV audience may witness it. This feeling is called "Steeler Monday;" think about it. If the Steelers win, Monday isn't as bad of a day as it can be, but if they lose, it's awful. You feel down and angry all day. That's how this Pirate team has been the past three-plus weeks. They strike out too much, they're bad on the bases and the pitching gives up too many early inning runs to put us in a hole. They're infuriating to watch right now with some of the moves (and non-moves) that management has or hasn't made, but I'm not giving up. I haven't yet, why start now? I'm still going to wear my Pirates hat to work everyday and text back and forth with friends that are fans of other teams. It's just a situation that I hope doesn't get worse. I didn't expect this team to contend this year, but I DID expect the streak to be broken. I just hope this team doesn't let me COMPLETELY down because I'm enjoying not following the Steelers as closely as normal BECAUSE of the Pirates playing as well as they were...
Where did this come from? I enjoy your site and you a very good writer but this is plainly a terrible piece. The biggest series the Pirates have played in 15 years is upon us and you're talking about setting our sights towards the future? Sure things don't look the greatest but these next three days have the ability to erase that and make things look once again bright.
Sure if things go poorly this series we can probably start looking ahead but not now not when the Pirates are about to play the franchise's biggest ever games at PNC Park. If there was ever a time this season to live in the present and not think about the future it is now. This post is completely off point and needs to be removed and reposted later if it becomes relevent. I'm sorry but this tone at this time seriously disappoints me. I'm worn down by this team a well but if there was a ever a time to get excited it is now. If there was a ever a moment a series whos anticipation level should make you proud to be a Pirate fan it is this one in front of us. Now is not the time to give up hope now is the time to enjor meaningful baseball late in August with a eye towards possibly having meaningful baseball in September. Sure this series has a better than not chance of ending poorly and making everything you say true but that isn't the point here.
What can I say though. I'm an avid baseball fan but I know you probaly know much more about this wonderful game than I do. I'm just pretty much a random person on your blog posting that I'm disappointed in you. I'm a blogger myself although I call it a 4th tier Pirate blog with the ones people like you run as a 1st tier one. I know you will probably pay me very little piece of mind but I urge you to reconsider and enjoy where the Pirates are at least for these next three days. It has been a long time coming and we of all fans should know how precious these moments are. These 3 games are games that matter. They are deeply meaningful not to the draft order or team morale but to a playoff chase. The time to be weary and tired and be down may very well come but its not now. I know this will mean nothing to you but all I can say is Pat, I am very disappointed in you. You of all people should know and understand the need to embrace what we have right now. From one random person please rethink this situation. Thank you.
@battlingbucs Two games back with 35 games to go is our situation. It's not a bad one to be in.
@CookieMonster24 @battlingbucs Of course it isn't a terrible place to be in, but the writing is on the wall unless the Pirates of June/July show up starting tonight. It is obvious that the pieces are in place for a playoff contending team, but this team and management are not ready for a playoff race.
I have said since day one that I only care about one goal, and that was 82. Once 82 was hit, then I will start to look to the playoffs. I am 30 years old, I would like to see this team have some success in the near future.
You guys can come in and beat up on Pat for feeling down, but go digging through the archives, and then find me another guy in the country that has written so much about a losing sports team for so long in their free time.
@GamingPessimist @CookieMonster24 I'm not down on Pat I'm trying to cheer him up. He is a wonderful asset to the Pittsburgh Pirates blog sphere largely because of his ability to see things for what they are. He isn't doing so in this case. For the next three days our baseball team who is 2 games back of a playoff spot will play the team they are trailing. What other fan base could possibly think that is some sort of death sentence for their baseball team? And since when are we so privileged to think of this as a bad situation to be in?
There is no more context needed than that.
@battlingbucs I've spent the last month being the guy that says, "If they stop playing like shit soon, everything will be OK."
I'm still waiting for them to stop playing like shit, and it's worn me out.
@whygavs @battlingbucs I'm hoping for 82 wins about now and I'm beginning to feel like that's too much to expect. This team has played like crap since the July trade deadline. None of those deals really helped this club and more likely hurt the overall morale. Marte was a bit of a help when he made his debut from AAA, other call-ups would have more likely been better than what we've seen from Wandy and Gabby. The pen really misses Lincoln. If Snyder does not become an everyday solid corner outfielder that deal is a bust also.
@whygavs @battlingbucs I have to agree with Pat on this one. This is one of those classic "definition of insanity" moments... I can't keep getting my hopes up that the Pirates will suddenly turn things around when the season's success was built on the continued best-of-their-career or best-in-a-long-time performance of so many players. Seemingly everyone has dropped off, there's little experience in playoff races for them to know how to deal with this, the Dodgers got a lot, lot better, and we just got swept by the Padres.
It was frustrating to see DK keep saying "Why is everyone assuming the bottom is going to fall out, the Pirates will be fine," etc, when there is no precedent for that. I think they'll still end it over .500, but just barely, and that would be almost more disappointing considering how great we played all summer than if we just missed the playoffs, of which we were never expected to make anyway.
This is so, so hard to watch. I'll keep following because that's what fans do, but it's also OK to say, "This isn't our year, yet. Once again." Because that's realistic.
@whygavs OK but look at the situation. Our baseball team is starting a 3 game series against a team they trail by 2 games for a playoff spot. Where is this great baseball we've been blessed with these last few years that you, I or anyone in the Pirate fan base should feel disappointed about our situation. Because you know what I missed it. If you want to look at the future and think this is not a competitive Pirates team then fine but if so you should have been thinking the same thing for the past 5 months. Very little has actually changed as far as our situation goes.