Bucs out of the cellar
Remember one-run losses in the first half? The Pirates were 9-25 in one-run games before the All-Star break and are 12-2 in such games since, for a record of 21-27 overall. If you accept as a premise that luck is a greater factor in determining the outcome of one-run games than it is in other games, then what we're seeing has something to do with the tendency of luck to even out over time, as small-sample anomalies disappear. Following that premise, it's possible to believe that the Pirates were not as bad a team as they appeared to be in the first half of the season. However, they are also not as good as they appear to be now. 21-27 is closer to their true abilities than 9-25 or 12-2. Charlie at Bucs Dugout gets it right--the thin air of fifth place should not intoxicate us into thinking that this team is close to contending. It isn't.
That is exactly what the Pirates public-relations machine will assert in the off-season, though. Tracy beats the drum to the press every day, but his relentless optimism doesn't really bother me; as a leader, conveying optimism is central to his job. Littlefield, on the other hand, is a shameless and cynical purveyor of untruths for the purpose of distracting the public and his bosses from his record of incompetence. He is the worst general manager in baseball at building a team and at judging, acquiring, and retaining talent, but when it comes to self-promotion through subterfuge and guile, he is a master without peer.