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The Second Half: Seven Ways The Pirates Can Win.


In every game, and in every workplace in the world, the second half is the time when the money is made.  Everything is won in the second half.    A lot of questions are being fired around the Pittsburgh Pirates offices.  Can the Pirates win anything in the second half?  It says here they can.   It’s money time…

The questions have to be everywhere….Who is helping us reach our goals?  Who sucks?  How are the development team progressing our prospects? What are we doing right? What is going terribly wrong? Why?  How close are we to signing this guy?

We thought about it for five minutes and once again, here are some opinions we have, you will probably disagree with most of them.  For some crazy reason, Team Rumbunter is very excited about the second half of the year for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Maybe it’s because it’s a wide open slate. It seems like spring training.

We knew this was a tale of two seasons. Almost every player that fans had questions about, that the organization had questions about  are out of starting jobs, some are out of Pittsburgh.  Was it poor development or missed talent?  Time will tell.   Some players that were in the sights stayed healthy and are battling for their MLB lives.

So now, the fun begins. Can these kids start putting it together? Can the organization continue to develop through the draft? Can any of the farm teams repeat as champions? And from the business side, what are the goals?

There are so many more questions, but you’re a busy person so let’s get this list rolling.

Get the State College Spikes Under a New Player Development Contract Immediately:

Chuck is spending less and less time in Happy Valley.  He has moved to Dallas.  But look, the Pirates need State badly.  As the talent improves in the system, State College makes too much sense to lose the market.  It would be a big punch to the gut for the Bucs. Greenberg knows this.  He holds the better cards in this deal and is well aware of that fact.

The four-year player development contract between the Pirates and the Spikes expires after this season.    The Rangers deal with their AAA team in Spokane in the Northwest League expires this year too. 

The Pirates Need To Keep Being Crazy:

The Pirates front office could give a shit less what the Pittsburgh media think. The contract extensions of John Russell and Neal Huntington supposedly last October are the shining example for me. You can think what you want to think, I believe it was done to make beat writers look bad. Perhaps they were pissed about the coverage during the season.   Maybe it was a new policy.  But I think the front office might have announced the extensions prior to the season, but when the Burkle/Lemieux story was leaked during  PiratesFest you can bet it sent them through the roof.

Don’t for one minute think that story didn’t upset the Pirates more than you ever thought imaginable.   The Pirates front office are a proud group.  Talk to them when they are at public functions.  It’s pretty easy to pick up on it after, oh…. thirty seconds.  Here’s what might have happened after that story was sent to print…    The Pirates decided once and for all, we will do, what we want to do.  Screw the media.   We don’t blame the Pirates for one second.   They are a private company, the story was in the organization.  It was waiting to be had.  Dejan said it himself.

The bottom line is this, regardless of the timing of the extensions, ‘the Burkle offer to buy the Bucs story’ was a direct strike.  The Pirates have very little leverage.  They devised a means to, at the very least, make the print media in Pittsburgh think.

You can call it weak, call it idiotic, we call it priceless, but it was a message.   Make a note, we don’t feel it was a message directed at the fans, it was different entirely.   The Pirates are mocked almost daily.  Right or wrong, one would guess it takes its toll.  Remember when the talented writer John Perrotto sent crazy tweets to thousands of followers from the Pirates very own press box earlier this year?  The Post Gazette editorial board spewing insanity?

It’s endless.  So, remind me again why the Pirates should bow down to this crap?

Bottom line for the Bucs:  continue doing wild things that drive news for the ball club.  Keep Deadspin humming.  It’s good for business, we don’t care what you say.  Write it down, you heard it here first, the Pirates will have at least two more insane PR grabs coming in the second half.   Maybe John Russell is thrown in the Mon, it looks like our reader poll is leaning that way heavily.  But just remember, two PR ”funnies” will be in store.  Bank on it.

Sign.  Develop and Rehab The Youth.  Improve at MLB Level:

The sole focus of the second half must be youth.  Sign 6’4″ RHP Luis Heredia who is a 15 year-old elite level pitcher from Mexico.   It would make a statement in Mexico, where the Yankees are king and the die hard fans of Pittsburgh will notice.   Two million bucks sounds beautiful to me.

Believe in the Youth Gone Wild.  The Pirates have these young players under their control.  Believe in them, let them play.  Teach and develop each one of them.

One more word of advice, whatever you do don’t make the mistake of calling one of these players ‘utility’ before they have a few hundred at-bats please Neal.   Oh, nevermind that already happened.   Keep pushing the buttons Neal.  Whatever it takes.

The Pirate must sign their draft picks, especially the Dead Mans Hand.  Jameson Taillon is the real deal.  The Steak.   The Pirates haven’t won in Texas all season.  We are overdue for a victory  in the Lone Star state this year.    Signing Taillon would be it. 

But maybe the bigger signing will be getting Stetson Allie to autograph a multi-million dollar deal too.    He is steak as well.  A one-two punch would shock baseball.   If the Pirates can somehow swing getting ink on these two arms,  a message will be sent.  A much cooler, ‘believe in us’ message to all Pirates fans.

Even the sizzle in Rojas, Jr. would be exciting for Pirates fans.

The Pirates minor league system was hit hard by injuries in the first half.    The rehab of these players will be vital.  How will each of them bounce back?  Injuries always test the metal of a franchise.  How well these players bounce back will be crucial.  For example, we kept a close eye on Jarek Cunningham this year.  He had some major injuries and appears to at least be stable once again.  The Bucs need prospects like him, but  with a 22% strikeout rate, something seems amiss.  However, that is just one example and the Bucs have a multitude.  The serious injuries to pitchers up and down the minors are a more immediate concern for us.  It’s scary.

The development of the very top prospects is shaky for me too.  Alderson being sent backwards.  Hernandez seems stale.  Will Sanchez and Marte bounce back?  Time will tell.   Because we were concerned we took a look at the 2009 End of Season Top 30 Prospects in the slick blue collateral sent over last year, the Blueprint I guess it’s called.  Neil Walker was listed at number 16.   Daniel McCutchen was 14.  Something is jacked up on these list makers agendas.

Improvement across the lineup on a daily basis would be a great thing.  The Pirates have shown some improvement to me.  For a roster that has been gutted, restocked, moved, juggled, cut, and replaced, the Pirates have done about what was expected.  I thought they could have won a few more games, but I can see the talent.  What I wonder about is the mental part of the game during these long road losing streaks must be torture for these guys.

The pitching scares the hell out of me, but I will sit back and pray they move from middle middle as a location on an out pitch.


If you don’t have kids, blow through this.  It’s long.  Unless the Pirates increase attendance, we are going to be delayed in turning this franchise around.  Seriously, why would a child want to go to a Pirates game right now?  Without a target on the youth, the Bucs are doomed.

Sure Kids Day at PNC Park on home game Sunday are a great time, but it needs to triple in size.    The capital spent this year on new entertainment on Federal Street has been noticed by our family and many more who have emailed our stupid blog.

We think marketing should ask for double the cash to be spent in 2011.  The hell with it, triple it.  I hadn’t really thought about it until today, so let me throw some stuff at you.  (If you’re bored jump down to the next topic.)  Get a lineup together, not just Kids Sunday.  A legit lineup of events that will happen.  Specifically for kids.  Screw Dave Matthews.   Those events do zero for us.  We say focus on young Pirates fans.  Go nuts and bring in Buffo the World’s Strongest Clown, make it a freak show.  Buffo would make the Mom’s go wild too!   Get Hannah or whatever her name is.  Get Bakugan.   An entire calendar for kid’s events at PNC Park is needed.

Get the kids + Get the Moms = Lifelong Success

One of the opportunities that we see is that college interns that typically work the kids events could give a shit less about kids.  Why not get some hot moms and dads out there?  I found it funny this year when someone asked if I wanted to sign up for the Pirates Kids Club.  Yeh.  My kid is running around like a banshee on all this cool new shit and I am just trying to keep my eyeballs on him. And you want me to take three minutes to write down all the information, the info that you already have when I buy tickets?    Yeh.    My wife would stab me in the neck with a plastic beer bottle.

Why not just add a line on Stub Hub, ‘will children be coming to the game with you?’  Come on.   Put that stuff in front of the families faces before they get to the game, or in an email after the game.  But don’t let StubHub send it.

Send it from an Andrew McCutchen account.    Neil Walkers.  Garrett Jones.  You get the point.  The Pirates have to get cooler.  Or die.

Times have changed.  The Pirates need to change as well.   Drastically.

Look.  You and I aren’t the Bucs target.  They got us.  Years ago.

Kill the Neal Huntington Show. 

Why is the GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates rambling on about the Pirtes organization on his Neal Huntington Show each Sunday on 104.7 ?   Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it.   But, Huntington is too nice of a guy for me.

I especially hate it when Greg Brown sticks to the script with some outlandish question for Neal like this, ”It was reported in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette yesterday that keeping Pedro Alvarez in the minors is sabotage.  The Pirates… blah, blah, blah…..”    Really?   This is important coverage for me?  I don’t think so.  Especially when the GM of a professional baseball club goes through his pre-recorded ways to refute the article that Brown brings to the table.  Who cares?   About ten percent of Pirates fans buy this garbage.  Why?    Who gives a flying crap what a clown like Bob Smizik and those writers say about this baseball club?

Remember what Smizik said about Neil Walker?  The sad part is you probably forgot already.  Why I even waste my time to point it out again is beyond me, but after I spent a phenomenal day at Idlewild Park being happy all day, I need to unleash some pain at somebody, so let’s drag up the hideous comments Smizik made prior to Walker being called up.   He said this….”He’s a Pittsburgh guy who’s not a “Pittsburgh guy.’’   

Obviously we have felt different about the Pittsburgh Kid.  Especially since we wrote that Walker was going to bust out after our interview with him last year after he wrapped up play in the Arizona Fall League.    But Smizik didn’t back off in his comments when given the facts of the situation which proved to be very unfortunate for him.

And a few days later as you can read below, Smizik finally had to apologize for being a complete ass…. but of course by then the papers were sold.  The hits were cashed.

"(I was referring to comments made by Walker that were in the paper which I chose not to go into. My comments, regardless of what happened with Walker, were over the top and required an apology."

Since some people will call me out for a small sample size how about when Smizik called for Pittsburgh media king Mark Madden to be fired.  That was bad enough, but Smizik wrote this idiotic statement to wrap up the article:

"At the same time, Madden would have no other option in Pittsburgh. Clear Channel, which operates the only other sports-talk station in town, would not tolerate his act."

Yeh, Madden wouldn’t have an option at Clear Channel.  What a joke.  Madden is dominating 105.9 The X on Clear Channel with monster ratings.

So remind me again, why does the Pirates GM waste any of his valuable, hell extremely critical time in the biggest rebuild in MLB, on answering questions from Greg Brown about the opinion of some hillbilly reporters?  The entire NH show doesn’t make sense to me.  Replacing it with a fun show on Pirates youth and minor leagues would be a great idea.  Pulling it would also fit into the new ‘we do what we want to do’ theme very well.

Move the Veterans:

The front office is bluffing on Ryan Church being extended. Use your head. If Huntington says ‘oh hell, Church sucks, we screwed up, we need to unload him’ what do you think the league will do? The Pirates desperately want to move Church, it’s the sole reason he was picked up. Crosby too. The last thing the Pirates need is another comment like Huntington made with Rocco on Extra Innings late last year when he mentioned he wasn’t certain what he would do with Capps.

You don’t think that got around the circuit?   If Huntington would have simply said, ‘we are going to do everything we can do to keep Matt Capps a Pittsburgh Pirate,’ the Bucs would have been money.  Would we have got much in return?  Doubtful.  But things could have turned out differently and a trade likely would have been worked out.

Huntington is a gambler that is trying his best to stay in the game.  His tongue must improve for that to happen. Fans respect what NH is doing, if the veterans he selected had some respect in their game, it would at least look like they were pros.    Ryan Church jogging drives us over the edge.    Get him moved please, do it with class and elegance.  But at all costs play the youth, there is no place for a veteran like Church in this clubhouse.  And there is absolutely no reason for him to be on the field.  None.

Somehow Get the Top Pick in the Draft:

Obviously, the Pirates need to win.  Desperately.  If they were to win 60% of their games in the second half, I would be a happy man.  However, just remember if they don’t…..He’s really good.

One Way You Can Win:  Read The Pirates Blogs, Get An Education:

This is a bonus that is for your benefit.  When you want straight forward, non agenda opinions, throw a comment in one of the Pirates blogs, these guys will answer you.  Sure,  I could list them for you, but it’s late.  Check out the blog roll.  All the great ones are there for you.  …it’s endless.

They know what the hell they are talking about when it comes to the Bucs.   Each are passionate about being objective,  they aren’t trying to sell you anything you don’t want.  Each of them would love nothing more than to see the Pirates have a magical second half of 2010, but they won’t blow smoke up your boxers or panties either.

Now tighten this straight jacket up dammit.  It’s about showtime.  Money time.  The Second Half.

Let’s Go Bucs!   Follow me on Twitter.  Facebook.  Or don’t.  But you can’t win…unless