Pirates Enter June Respectably
- Updated: June 2, 2011
What has only happened a handful of times in the past 20 years seems to be breathing again. It is now June and the Pittsburgh Pirates are flirting with .500. The Pirates have one of the worst streaks in all of sports, in fact it is the worst. Eighteen consecutive seasons with more losses than wins. Kevin McClatchy, who was the majority owner for many of those years, and Dave Littlefield, who was McClatchy’s pawn in dumping payroll, caused the Pirates to be the punch line of many jokes over the past couple of decades. This year, the team is not laughing.
Yankee fans, always known for running their mouths about “homegrown talent“, have done little with their farm system over the past ten years. Everyone knows that the mighty Yankees can buy things they need whenever they need them. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh can’t do that. Yep, it is a small market team and the best shot they have is to develop players through a good farm system. That farm system is now starting to show its effect on the big team.
Free agency is non-existent in Pittsburgh unless they are selling. The Pirates look like a pack of geniuses for picking up Kevin Correia (pictured, top) for a 12-pack of balls and some fireworks. Correia has been among the leaders in the NL in wins, WHIP, and ERA. The other big acquisition was probably manager Clint Hurdle. Hurdle had success in Colorado and was notorious for a couple of blistering months where his team was unbeatable.
Look at what has come from the farm system and how they are doing. Andrew McCutchen is not where he should be as far as batting average, but he is piling up extra-base hits at key moments. He is also one of, if not the best, defensive outfielders in the game today. Neil Walker is showing no signs of a sophomore slump. Jose Tabata is making strides in the right direction. Paul Maholm has had a few hard luck losses but has a stellar ERA and all of his starts but one have been quality starts. Evan Meek is rested and ready. And, there are more. Pedro Alvarez is the question mark of the group. Alvarez, known for his slow starts, can really give the Pirates a lift if he can come off of the DL swinging a hot bat. Evan Ryan Doumit is contributing with game-winning grand slams.
All of those guys came from a farm system striving to serve a purpose instead of agricultural turnover. A farmer raises a pig and sells it. These pigs are staying in the pen for a few more years.