As I sit in my basement 10 days before Christmas, I can’t help but think about how the Pittsburgh Pirates have done absolutely nothing this off-season! Nothing has changed! It’s the "Same Old Buccos (S.O.B.)" the umteenth winter in a row! No movement during the Winter Meetings! The Pirates didn’t pick up any meaningful free agents to help out the worst one of the worst starting rotations in world, they still don’t have a starting catcher, they are trying to trade off their best players as usual because we all know it is all about salary dumps and saving money (Spend Nutting Win Nutting!). They still have that "idiot", Joey Cora, at third base getting all of our runners thrown out by a mile a hundred times a year and they hired a pitching coach none of us have ever heard of! S.O.B.!!! Did I miss anything? Probably. And you know why? This whole first paragraph is a bunch of nonsense! It means absolutely nothing!
The Pittsburgh Pirates have done a whole hell of a lot this off-season and it’s only 10 days before Christmas! The ball hasn’t even dropped in Time’s Square yet! Pitchers and Catchers don’t even report for another 59 days! First they got rid of a manager in Clint Hurdle that had totally lost control of his team. They also said goodbye to Ray Searage who was so far behind the times, and claimed that it was all about the game within the game, but that he didn’t talk with his pitchers about what pitches they should throw and/or not throw. Next they “parted ways" with a president in Frank Coonelly, who was way too involved in baseball operation’s decisions and not focused enough on the public relations and business side of the club. Finally the Pirates got rid of General Manager Neil Huntington (and his crony/yes-man extraordinaire, Kyle Stark). The man who singlehandedly stunted the team’s most recent “re-tool”with one of the worst/one-sided trades in MLB history. But, yet fans seem entrenched in a robotic "Same Old Buccos" response to every move or non-move from a front office that is only a month old.
Now onto the S.O.B. hirings. The Pirates hired Travis Williams to be their new President; in charge of nothing baseball related, who has an amazing track record with all of the businesses in the great city of Pittsburgh. Next they hired a General Manager, Ben Cherington, with a recent World Series ring, a man well respected by his peers and many others in the baseball industry, and a man that had turned down what most called more prestigious and sought after jobs in Major League Baseball circles in the Giant and Mets only a year ago. Within days Cherington brought in Steve Sanders as his right hand man and Assistant GM alongside Kevan Graves. Sanders is the former Director of Amateur Scouting for the Blue Jays, who over the past 3 years has transformed their farm system into one of the best in the MLB. The new brain trust went on to non-tender Elias Diaz on the same day the Sanders’ hire was announced. After conducting multiple interviews Derek Shelton was hired as the new manager of the Pirates. Shelton had been considered for other managerial positions this off-season season, so it wasn’t as if the Pirates just settled for someone. Shelton’s first order of business as the Pirates new skipper was to pick Don Kelly as his Bench Coach. Since retiring as a player after the 2016 season, Kelly has quickly ascended through the ranks of Major League Baseball from assistant scout to full time scout to first base coach for a World Series contender to bench coach. But you know, S.O.B.!!!
Now back to the most recent developments, or lack there of, according to some from the Winter Meeting. The Pirates didn’t sign any free agents. Did you honestly expect them to? And it’s not because it was business as usual. The Pirates new front office, along with their new manager was busy trying to hire a pitching coach (possibly one of the most crucial decisions of the new regime), evaluating the players they have in the entire organization, assessing for the most pressing needs at the most vulnerable positions, listening to trade offers on at least two players (Marte and Frazier) and anything else you could possibly imagine a new front office, coaching staff, would be doing to prepare for the upcoming season and beyond.
The last thing any Pirates' fan should be worrying about is why they haven’t signed a 30+ year old veteran catcher to help Stallings with the duties behind the plate because they don’t need him in place until 59 days from now. Another thing Pirates' fans need not worry about is what potential free agent pitcher they might bring in to compete for the 4 or 5 position in the rotation because we don’t even know what pitchers will be in a Pirates uniform on opening day and neither does anyone in the Pirates' organization.
One thing you might want to at least keep an eye on is the continuing trade offers that are leaked and rumbled about in blogs, articles, tweets from reputable sources and pretty much anywhere imaginable because there will be plenty. But remember if the Pirates decide to trade anyone, don’t automatically jump to the lazy response of S.O.B.! Become an educated baseball fan. Actually look at what the Pirates got in return. Be happy that Ben and his brain trust didn’t just go along with the first offer that was on the table at the Winter Meetings. Because it’s not the "Same Old Buccos" anymore!
Follow Craig on Twitter: @BucsBasement