1993-2012 that were finical compensated since 1876. The Pittsburgh Pirates became a professional baseball team in the ML (Major League Baseball) around 1887.
They are very in rich history with five World Series championships, numerous Hall of Fame’s, and thousands of memories in the 125 plus seasons of baseball. (Dietrich) The Pirates do have some of the most memorable records and high points in Major League history but also some of the lowest and unwanted records as well.
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The Pirates most recent claim to fame was not there impressive list of future Hall of Fame’s or scored World Series championships, but rather possessing the longest consecutive losing seasons (overall recording less wins than losses) is in a row at 20. The Pirates had not finished with a winning record since 1992 prior to 2013. Known by many Pittsburghers and fans of the Pirates as “the streak”.
The team watched as every other team in baseball enjoy at least one winning season in those twenty years.
Although the Pirates had a few dark stretches of losing in the past this most recent seemed to boil over a couple times with a walk out staged, ever changing n in managers, and no real face of the organization. Thousands of poor management decisions went into building an epic streak of losing. The team was in such poor shape in regards to talent, that an over night fix to build a winning balaclava was not going to happen. The Pirates made considerable changes in 2007 to start building not Just a winning balaclava that can break the streak but rather a team that could challenge for a playoff spot.
Neal Huntington became the Pirates GM (General Manager) in September 2007 and started the task of turning a perennial loser into a winner. The Pittsburgh Pirates are a team that can continue to produce a winning team with the guidance of Huntington and added emphasis of spending money on the draft, increase scouting in the international markets, smart baseball trades, and invest in wise hole filling free agent signings. The beginning of the streak can either began in 1991 , 1992, or 1993 depending on the actual point whether a person looks at record or events that lead up to start of losing on the field.
In the off season of 1991, the Pirates were coming off there third winning season out four and there second consecutive division championship. The Pirates poor management started by trading away John Smiley for a couple prospects, even though one would turn out to be Denny Engage who be a very productive pitcher for the team.
The other decisions consisted of offering a multi year contract to then free agent Bobby Vanilla and having decline and sign a more lucrative deal with the New York Mets. Instead of signing budding superstar Barry Bonds, the Pirates gave a multi year contract extension to Any Van Slake.
These choices on players didn’t make an intermediate impact on the team as the team went on to win the National League East division again in 1992. The loss of Vanilla the previous year was felt during the playoffs when Pirates averaged only three runs a game in the four losses to the Atlanta Braves. The Pirates lost in seven games to the Braves in one of the most memorable and dramatic games ever played in any Pirates fan’s eyes. The Pirates lead 2-0 heading into the bottom ninth, only to allow three runs and game ( Runs batted in).
The player he drove in to score the winning run was former Pirates first baseman and Pennsylvania native Side Bream. These were the earliest poor decisions that helped create the streak, although the team was still a competitive am, these choices on players would lead to a organization that would go almost twenty years without an identity. In following months the club lost future Hall of Fame, career home run king, and season record holder in numerous other offensive categories like season high of 73 home runs. Its winnings pitcher in the previous five seasons, Doug Drabber, also left via free agency.
The team failed to replace either of these important cogs the winning teams from the past few years. They hired a new GM in Cam Boniface.
He came in as highly regarded scout evaluator from the Cincinnati Reds and failed to truly achieve NY success in the GM position. Boniface was brought in 1993 to plug a few holes and try to field a competitive team that still had many players held over from the success in the early ass. The team decided to start with a youth movement in 1994, as many players and prospects would brought up to field a team that could grow into a championship caliber team.
The strike shorter seasons of 1994- 95, not only hampered the development of its core players but also hurt fanfare as many people were starting to bail of the Pirates. Coupled with the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the attendance of the Pirates and interest became almost non existent. (Brink) The losing coupled with banning interested prompted the management to unload most of the veteran players and try to acquire and replenish a depleted farm system.
The team decided to rebuild the minors and and the entire roster through these trades.
Boniface was known for his talent evaluations in the minors and amateur ranks. He traded virtually all the veterans and had ML low payroll of only nine million dollars to start the 1997 season. The team had giant opportunity to rebuild completely from the ground up, known as the 5 year plan. The team also had the number one draft pick in the 1996 amateur draft and selected Kuris Benson, a pitcher that his wife became more popular than he ever did and never fully achieved his potential through bad luck and injuries that set him back.
In the year 1997, the team experienced a small resurgence and the closest opportunity to challenge for a playoff spot, not being eliminated from contention till the final weekend of the season.
This season did spark the fanfare to be interested in baseball as the team flirted with the playoffs and was in first or second place much of the year. One of the most memorable points in the team’s history was a no hitter that pitched by Francisco Cordovan and Richard Ironic, the game game was ended in the bottom of the tenth inning by a walk off home run.
This season although helped sparked the fanfare with increase attendance it hampered the plan to rebuild to overall organization. The team was still raw and needed time together to develop. Boniface instead of sticking with a the raw and still high potential players started signing players that were stop gap and players at the end of there careers. Players such as Doug Strange, De Sprague, Mike Benjamin, and Pat Mares were signed locked players that could have developed into a productive Major Leaguers.
The city Pittsburgh authorized the building a new stadium in 1998.
The team struggling in acquiring new talent through the draft. The team struggled to find an identity through the years of 1998-2000. Players came and went, the main constants on the balaclava were Jason Kendall and Brian Giles. These two players were usual top three at there positions until traded for to unload there salaries in the early sass.
The Pirates averaged 90 plus losses in the late ass and the team did not look very promising heading into a new ball ballpark. Anchored by Kendall, Giles, and a young Arms Ramirez, the team ushered in the beautiful Pen Park with a 100 loss season.
The team was a huge disappointment, although the few stars on the team did put up impressive numbers many stories came out about there attitudes and views on a perennial losing team. These attitudes helped increase the streak in double digits, and hurt young and developing players. The most memorable low point was when Lloyd McClellan then Pirates manager was ejected arguing a close call at first base and ripped first base out of the ground and took it off the field prompting a delay in the game.
The losing had finally caught up with Boniface as he was dismissed as the Gm and replaced by former Florida Marlins Executive Dave Littered.
Littered never achieved a winning season and his teams never won more 75 games in one season. He made several of the worst trades in club history trading Arms Ramirez for a players that would be out of baseball within 3 years of acquiring them. The trade of Kendall was a salary dump that yielded little in return as the team only got few stop gap players and lead teams to fail once again to have a true identity or plan to get out of the a decade long losing streak.
Brian Giles trade did help acquire a future all star and talent that would help the team acquire talent that is still on the roster now. Players such as Jason bay and Oliver Perez became borderline stars and looked like they could be cornerstones of a team that could be on a competitive teams.
With productive players in the line up the team continued to lose and failed to restock the minors with promising young talent. Many of the draft picks in the Boniface and Littered eras were complete busts and failed to show any upside in the minors and if they did make the major league roster failed to live up to NY potential.
Drafting majority of pitchers in his era, Littered was often criticized were passing on high end players that might be difficult to sign and drafting players in college that were easy to sign. The lowest point was when he drafted pitcher Bryan Ebullition with the number one draft pick and proclaimed him future number three starter for years to come. This draft would truly provide why the Pirates continued there losing instead of drafting hard players to sign like future all stars Prince Fielder, Sack Greening, or Cole Hammers.
Another example would be in 2007 when the Pirates elected a easy assignable pitcher who was ranked the fifth best pitcher in the draft with the forth overall draft pick. The second major down fall of Littered was the trade for Matt Morris and his 9. 5 million salary, he would be released before the all star break. Littered tenure as GM would end in 2007 after only six seasons. He is most notably known for horrible trades that were in reality salary dumps that his hands were tied by management with tight and limited financial flexibility.
Many felt that he was a little over his head in the GM position and was better equipped to be in hare of pro scouting departments. When he left and Joined the Tampa bay Rays, low end free agents. Many of his detractors were very critical of his tenure in Pittsburgh but his drafting of of position players of Andrew Munched and Neil Walker helped start the change and give the Pirates a cornerstone core players to build around. The year 2007 brought numerous changes to the Pirates and started a rebuilding plan that truly started the team to success within five years.
Bob Uniting became the principal owner of the balaclava, taking controlling interest from the previous Chairman of the board Kevin McCarthy.
Uniting, who has ran several very successful business adventures including newspapers and a ski resort, started turning the Pirates into a smart as’. N. Y team by hiring baseball smart men such as Frank Connelly as president. Connelly made his name as an attorney for ML to negotiate with the Players Association and the World Umpire Association and continue the labor peace with both unions. Dietrich) Known as a smart business man throughout baseball, many felt this was true moment where Pirates baseball could began to see a turnaround. Neal Huntington was hired away from the Cleveland Indians organization as the new GM as the Pirates.
Huntington era didn’t began with many wins as the team continued to lose on field and averaged almost 100 games a years from 2008- 2010. The 105 losses in 2010 were the second most losses in franchise history. The team was losing many games in these years but a rebuild plan was put in place and Huntington was very driven to continue and not take short cuts to Just a couple wins to a each year.
He vision building a team through the draft and and development of homegrown players. With an added emphasis through development and drafting, Uniting invested millions ND allotted more money into draft and rebuild the infrastructure of the teams facilitates. Fans were very critical as they heard this rebuilding plan before without seeing a winning season, as the losing streak was entering 16 years in 2008.
Going with a total youth movement and once again trading away all or most veteran talent to acquire young players.
In the years 2010-2012 these might have been the most trying years for each a different reason each year. In 2010, the Pirates lost 105 games and nothing looked like the plan was coming together. The following year the team flirted with a winning season until August and the lack of pitching depth caught up with team and they struggled to the finish line. The most important thing that came out of the disappointing year was the drafting again of the best overall player with the number pick ( Gerri Cole).
The 2012 season was another disaster in the second half as injuries and lack of experience in a pennant race caught up to the team.
Huntington vision emphasis on drafting, developing talent, and fill gaps in rosters with a few free agent picks was the plan that would help eventually build a winner. This plan would take several years to see real results. Uniting gave Huntington a vote of confidence with his plan and realized that adding capital to drafting developing would the smartest way a a small market team would be able to build a contending team.
Huntington began by revamping the scouting department, hiring some of the best scouts and promoting more international scouting. Greg Smith and Kyle Stark are in charge of the scouting in the amateur and minor leagues. Development and unifying the players in the minors.
The Pirates minor leagues went from a barren to one of the most talent filled in the entire ML. The first thing that Pirates did to stock pile talent was invested more money into the drafting of players starting with drafting the best overall player at their selection spend more money in the international markets.
Starting in 2008 is an excellent example of this new found emphasis the Pirates drafted Pedro Olivarez with pick, known as a difficult sign the club did not hesitant to draft a player to help build around. Also in later rounds of draft, they invested more money to players that could potentially have not signed and over paid to to get the draftees to sign and get into he minors, over paying players like Allen Hanson, Josh Bell, Robbie Grossman, Sorry Mercer, and Justine Wilson. Stockpiling players that have huge upsides have provided a farm system that is one of the best in ML and seems like a pipeline to replenish the major league roster.
The draft of of course. Always was designed to be a worst- to-first equalizer… ” (Starkey) The team has hired several prominent scout to sign and find talent in Latin American.
The team has spent millions on signing and finding younger players much like most teams that have had success in signing players in their middle teens. Starling Mart has blossomed from a a young man of 17 years of age to a player with raw talent and is widely considered a future all star. Another player the Pirates have overpaid to acquire was Luis Hearer who was only 15 years of age when the Pirates outbid other teams to sign him.
The second thing the Pirates management has invested was to develop the talent the team acquired whether through draft, international signing, or through trades for minor league players. Uniting invested capital into a state of the art complex in Florida, these facilities are now the equal to or better to many other clubs in baseball.
Also a baseball academy was built in the Dominican Republic to help improve to recruitment and development of Latin American ball players. With this training complex the Pirates name has become popular in Latin America homes again.
The talent from this improvement in development will be the slowest return on investment but will in time help replenish the minor leagues for years to come. (Harris) The weather in these areas allow players to develop and refine there game 365 days as opposed to many collegiate and high scholars in the United States that might only get eight to nine months of development. Possibly the easiest and most quickly return on investment is making smart free agent signing and smart baseball trade to improve the current major league roster.
Instead of Just finding stop gap player to fill roster sports Huntington and staff has looked for free agents that can fill holes and actually help the team in the long run.
Signing players such as Russell Martin, Francisco Lairing, Clint Barres, and Garrett Jones presented smart signings to fill holes on the team. (Dietrich) A small market team that has limited capital has to get the most out of there signings and only go after a player that can possible fill a void that a team may have due to lack of minor league depth.