Pirates must be kidding
By Joe Starkey
Friday, June 8, 2007
Bob Nutting, who says he's "absolutely" committed to winning, struck out looking.
The Pirates' principal owner watched a belt-high fastball -- otherwise known as Matt Wieters -- cut the middle of the plate.
His bat never moved.
With that, the Pirates should have lowered the Jolly Roger, raised the white flag and changed their silly slogan to, "We Won't."
When it was their turn to pick in the draft Thursday, the Pirates bypassed the best player on the board because they're too cheap. It's that simple.
Say this much, though: They issued a whale of a news release upon selecting Clemson pitcher Daniel Moskos.
Keep in mind, he was the fourth pick overall, the second pitcher taken.
The second paragraph of the release ended like this: "(Moskos) was ranked by Baseball America as the fifth-best pitcher available in the draft."
And you thought nothing could top the time the Pirates drafted Bryan Bullington first overall and general manager Dave Littlefield said, "We feel comfortable projecting him as a No. 3 starter."
Moskos might turn out fine. He was Baseball America's eighth-ranked prospect.
But he was neither the highest-rated pitcher nor the highest-rated left-hander still available.
More to the point, Wieters, a switch-hitting catcher out of Georgia Tech, was by far the highest-rated position player available. Baseball America labeled him the best position player in the draft and quoted a scout as saying only Twins star Joe Mauer was better among the amateur catchers he had seen.
Keith Law, director of scouting for ESPN's Scouts Inc., and an analyst on ESPN2's draft coverage, calls Wieters a "once-in-a-decade kind of talent."
Kevin Goldstein of Baseballprospectus.com wrote Wednesday in his draft preview, which appeared on SI.com, "The Pirates would like to take Wieters, but a request submitted to ownership to spend big money was quickly denied."
Littlefield flatly denied the report yesterday.
The only hitters of Wieters' pedigree were high school third baseman Josh Vitters, who went third to the Chicago Cubs, and high school infielder Mike Moustakas, who went second to Kansas City.
That left Wieters as the obvious choice, but, alas, he's a Scott Boras client.
Boras is known for demanding huge signing bonuses and immediate major-league contracts.
Of course, that didn't scare the Royals from taking a Boras client (Moustakas) for the second consecutive year.
It didn't scare Milwaukee from taking a Boras client (Matt LaPorta, seventh overall), either.
And after Nutting whiffed, the Baltimore Orioles took Wieters at No. 5. The Orioles had a history of avoiding Boras.
The Detroit Tigers, who once shared baseball's low-rent district with the Pirates, snagged a consensus top-five talent and Boras client, pitcher Rick Porcello, at No. 27.
You can't get something for Nutting. What was it actor Michael Keaton famously said about his hometown Pirates?
"At some point, you have to write the check."
This was the perfect chance.
If you're grading the draft, give Kansas City, Baltimore and Detroit an A.
Give Bob Nutting a backward K.