Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What do we expect?

5 and 18. That is stunning.

Freddy love is breaking out all over the blogosphere. Typical is this, from Kovacevic's Q&A today:
Q: Since Freddy Sanchez has offensive stats clearly superior to Joe Randa and, since his defensive skills are equal at least, and since we have a crying need to get runners on for Jason Bay and the Wilsons, why, oh, why cannot Sanchez play third base and bat leadoff?

He has speed, hits for a solid average, and has a good eye at the plate. Then, Duffy/MaClouth could hit near the bottom of the order so that they can learn to hit big league pitching without the pressures of leading off.

Why, oh, why?

Dr. Lynn Boyd Hinds of Springfield, Mo.

KOVACEVIC: This was topic No. 1 with a bullet in the inbox.

Here again, Lynn, your logic is irrefutable. And yet, there was Sanchez again last night, back on the bench after going 2 for 4 with one of those outs being a screaming fly ball to the wall in left-center. As Sanchez himself put it when I interviewed him Monday, it would appear there is nothing he can do to start.

Tracy's reasoning is that the Pirates are a stronger team with Sanchez on the bench. That is true, of course, as it pertains to a contending team. But it becomes way out of whack when the player on the bench is clearly illustrating he could help the team more than the starter, and -- this is important -- is doing so over a stretch longer than just a couple of games.

I will say this much: Be certain that there are some in the clubhouse who feel as you do.

The best point I've seen anyone make--and I apologize for not recalling where I saw it and properly attributing it--is that by signing Randa, we're wasting Freddy's 28-year-old season, a season that, if Freddy is like most players, would likely have been one of the most productive of his career.

Tracy's "reasoning," on the other hand, is both illogical and disingenuous, but even he must know that. Unfortunately, when someone sticks a microphone in your face, you have to say something. The real reason that the Pirates continue to play Randa and Burnitz is that despite the team's unbelievably bad start, for which both bear a certain amount of the responsibility, it is way too early for the Pirates to publicly admit that these high-profile acquisitions were a mistake. Their reputation currently hinges on the notion that the money they spent in the off-season proved that they aren't cheap and that they want to win.

Casey is injured and Burnitz and Randa have both had bad months, but as long as it is conceivable that they could bounce back and become productive, I don't expect that we will see them lose their jobs to McLouth, Sanchez, or anyone else. Although many of us knew and complained all winter that these signings were poor ways to allocate the revenue-sharing money, decisions that are this important to an organization on so many different levels are not likely to be easily or casually disavowed.

An organization that makes this many bad decisions needs a healthy appreciation for the concept of sunk cost. This regime of the Pirates has never shown such an appreciation. That's why Kevin Young played first for as long as he did, why McClendon managed almost to the end of his contract, and why, barring a Cuban incursion, Dave Littlefield will be our GM through most if not all of 2008.

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