First off, here is the journalistic abortion that Passan published yesterday.
If you didn’t care to read it, you are not the only one who doesn’t want Passan stealing five minutes of your life. Let me sum it up: the GMs, the fans, hell even the press (the rest of the press), everyone except the players and Passan himself are responsible for fueling some “terrible fire of excitement” over prospects. Not only does this fire exist, apparently it is bad too–he’s a little roundabout on that point, though. The “promotion of talent long before it reaches the major leagues” is labelled an “uncomfortable reality”. I guess that’s double talk for evil.
Now, I really don’t care too much about Tommy Hanson, Matt Wieters, or Gordon Beckham, but I do care about Andrew McCutchen (see previous post) and thank goodness, this article is mostly about him, presumably because he had the most sound bites to work with. Personally, if I were supporting the rambling, reaching thesis of Passan’s article, I may use Wieters, 4-28 with 1 R, 0 RBI, and a .422 OPS as my example.
Passan seems to think McCutchen is not ready for the big show. This despite four and a half years of minor league service where he has moved up and performed at each level he encounters. This despite one and a half years in AAA. This despite the fact that before this season management had areas of emphasis they wanted Cutch (yep, I call him Cutch “already” too Passan) to work on, like stolen base efficiency, which he promptly showed he could improve. This despite the fact that every sigle time he’s gone to the plate he’s had a great at bat and looks like a guy who has been playing in the Majors for a couple years. I know, I know, Passan probably hasn’t seen this. I doubt he’s seen McCutchen’s stats, or watched him play, or even knows much about the Pirates in general. No, Cutch is ready. As I stated in my post on the McLouth trade, it was going to be a little difficult deciding who was going to lose playing time when he came up, but Atlanta’s begging made that choice a little easier. So why isn’t Passan up in arms over Rick Porcello? This guy is 20 years old and for the sum total of his professional career he pitched 125 innings in A+ league last season–and this year started on the Tigers’ rotation. Instead, he spends a column lavishing him in praise of how mature and good he is.
Passan continues with this brilliant piece of journalism:
“All those guys are great players, and they’re going to bring a lot to this game when they settle in,” McCutchen said. “It’s a new regime coming in. I think we’re going to help keep the game going and bring excitement and fans.”
Never mind McCutchen’s delusions of grandeur. He’s 22. He grew up in a baseball culture whose fans and media deified him as a teenager, the way basketball has long done with its prime talent. He saw his every accomplishment broadcast to a frothing group of Pirates followers, the same ones who have to be so confused by this all: 17 straight losing seasons, and they’re trading a player in McLouth they had developed and locked up to a team-friendly contract, for … three more prospects.
This quote from Andrew is presumably about all the young baseballers in the article–Wieters, Hanson, Beckham–but it is not really clear from the context, and for all we know he could be talking about only the Pirates or for that matter all of the young athletes in combined professional sports. Assuming he’s talking about the other youngsters, he basically says “those guys are great”, and “all of them [myself included] will bring excitement and fans” to the game. Well, haven’t they? Isn’t that your premise, Passan, that we are all salivating over these players already and too soon? So where’s the delusion? Enter brilliant segue into McLouth trade criticism. There are legitimate criticisms of the McLouth trade to be made: the Pirates didn’t get enough in return for McLouth or perhaps that the Pirates alienated much of the clubhouse with the trade. The first concern is fair, but I think they did get enough. The second concern I think is also fair but easy to counter: these players get payed millions of dollars to play a game. If they can’t deal with a common occurrence such as a trade, they don’t have to pick up their paycheck anymore. They’ll cool down in a week or so anyways.
Critiquing the trade in terms of the 16 straight losing seasons (that’s right, I think its still only 16 so far Passan) is ridiculous. Running a franchise based on 16 seasons of the past with the short-sighted goal of one winning season is folley. Just look at past management’s free agent and trade acquisitions for how this turned out: Jeromey Burnitz, José Hernández (twice), and the granddaddy of them all, Matt Morris. Yes, if the Pirates were the Yankees they could simply buy a new team every year and would only have to worry about a couple of their prospects working out, like Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. The Pirates, like many other teams, must always develop through the farm system, constantly acquiring prospects at every level of the minors through every possible means (Trades, Latin America, Amateur Draft, Japan…India), developing most of their big leage team internally, and this means you have to trade your veterans before they leave on their own. The fact of the matter is the Pirates weren’t shopping McLouth, they would have much rather traded Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sánchez, Jack Wilson, or John Grabow, but the Braves were willing to part with enough of their own future the pry McLouth away.
Passan has the balls to end his column with this gem:
They are the next wave of heroes who haven’t done anything particularly heroic. Oh, well. That’s how it goes. And it’s something for which no one in baseball seems too terribly eager to apologize.
Oh that’s right, Passan. Last Tuesday you were drafted in the amateur draft, made it through four or more levels of minor league play with legitimate results, and then were called up to the big show. That one-in-a-million accomplishment is not very heroic at all.
I’ll leave you now with this query: Passan, three weeks ago you devoted an entire column to the fact that Stephen Strasburg won’t play in the majors this year (No shit? He won’t?). Is this the hype machine of which you speak?