Friday, February 24, 2006

February 24th, 1977

Bronson Arroyo Born

Bronson Arroyo, well known as a member of the Red Sox these days, began his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I know it seems like I've been picking on the Pirates lately, Pat Meares and all, but the problem is that over the last five to eight years, the Pirates have just been one of the worst-run franchises in baseball.

Arroyo is just another example of that, and an example of how the Pirates are running things poorly not only in the big moves (like signing free agents) but also in little things like roster management. Arroyo has been nothing amazing during his Red Sox tenure, but has been a consistent arm who can start or relieve and give a team as many as two hundred league average innings. Plus, he's been cheap. In other words, just the kind of guy that a team like the Pirates--who've run out clowns like Josh Fogg and Ryan Vogelsong as regular members of their rotation the last couple of years--would need. It would be one thing if the Bucs had traded Arroyo, but here's where the bad roster management comes in. Arroyo was released by the Pirates, waived for any team in the league to grab so that the Pirates could hold on to Jim Mann, a mediocre journeyman who threw an inning and two-thirds for the Pirates in 2003 and nothing since.

It's not just Arroyo though. In the 2003 Rule 5 Draft (allowing teams to take players who have been in the minors for five years without being put on the Major League roster) the Pirates saw their players taken with five of the first six picks. Notable names taken include Chris Shelton, who slugged over .500 for the Tigers last season and Jose Bautista, who the Pirates ended up trading to get back in the Ty Wiggington/Kris Benson trade with the Mets. Even more baffling, these players weren't protected (i.e. placed on the forty man roster) despite the Pirates having room to do so. And compounding this problem is that the room on the forty man roster was created by having released even more names you'd know, Duaner Sanchez who has been a capable reliever for the Dodgers, Matt Guerrier who had a strong stretch in
Minnesota last year and my man Big Walter Young.

The Pirates' big moves have actually improved somewhat under (now former) General Manager Dave Littlefield, but their smaller ones continue to reflect a Keystone Kops-like approach to roster management. If they ever hope to give
PNC Park the kind of team it deserves, that's another on the long list of problems that need fixing.

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