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February 19, 2008 at 12:04 am ET
Your Team Ain’t S#!t #1: The Pirates

Obviously there is a void when it comes to objective team season previews and Devil Rays information on the internets.

Since no one else will, I will fill this void by previewing the 29 other MLB teams and comparing them to our beloved Devil Rays, in anticipation of the 2008 season which is sure to be the greatest in Devil Rays history….

Working backwards through the final Bugs & Cranks Top 30 rankings, we begin with The Pittsburgh Pirates….

Argument #1: The Plane Crash Test

It goes like this: imagine planes filled with the entire rosters of both teams were to tragically crash, say in the midst of a mercy mission somewhere in Central America, killing all aboard.

Quick: name the people you would miss.

Devil Rays: TMOTMCC James Shields, EGDC Carlos Pena, Scott Kazmir, BJ Upton, Troy Percival, Akinori Iwamura, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Cliff Floyd, Al Reyes. (10)

Pirates: Doug Mientkiewicz. (1. Unless you don’t want to count him since he was only signed to a minor-league contract, in which case, 0.)

Seriously. Am I missing anyone?

Would you miss Freddy “$18 million” Sanchez? Do you know who Freddy Sanchez is?

You wouldn’t miss him. Just like you wouldn’t miss their best offensive player, Xavier Nady, or Jason Bay or Adam LaRouche.

Or Tom Gorzelanny. Or Ian Snell.

Maybe they’ll reach their full potential once they leave Pittsburgh. Just like Jason Kendall and Kris Benson did.

Argument #2: Let’s compare offseasons.

Our Devil Rays added free agents Percival and Floyd, and traded for Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza. They also signed El Gato Del Crimen Carlos Pena and The Master Of The Modified Circle Change James Shields to long term deals. I’d still like to see them pursue one more high-profile free agent to upgrade at DH, but they have definitely made solid moves to improve the club.

The Pirates did nothing. Well, besides the blockbuster deals with Mientkiewicz and Sanchez.

Perhaps the Pirates were wise to sit pat for now. They seem to be in a similar situation as the D-Rays were a year or two ago; with so many young and unproven players, there’s not much point in throwing money away on free agents until you have a better idea of what you’ve got. Not that any decent free agents would want to come anyway. The major difference is that the Pirates are in such a terrible division they might fluke their way into at least a playoff chase, whereas the Devil Rays will need to win at least 90 games just to have a chance at the AL Wild Card.

Here’s an awesome quote from my new favorite Devil Ray, Troy “Aeneas” Percival, that further illustrates the difference between these two clubs:

Percival said the primary reason he spurned an offer from the Yankees to join the Rays was the potential for success, similar to what he saw in signing with Detroit three years ago, and noting how the Tigers made the playoffs the next season.

“You get a team like this, they’re hungry for a reason to believe in themselves,” the veteran closer said. “You look at the Yankees and they’re obviously a much more experienced team, a very talented team, but this team I’ll go talent-for-talent with anybody if we can get them to believe in it. That’s something that I relish, getting the opportunity to come here with young guys and say, ‘Look, go position-for-position with them,’ and we can do that. There’s not many teams out there that we can’t go position-for-position with.”

I’m pretty sure there weren’t any 4-time All Stars with a World Series ring turning down the Yankees to go to the more talented Pirates this winter.

So, it’s as clear as the difference between the bright edenic sky of St. Petersburg and the dark fog of coal smoke blocking the sun from the beleaguered populace of that tawny Jacksonville of the North that is Pittsburgh, that for now these two organizations are in very, very different places. And it is equally clear that compared to our Devil Rays, the Pirates ain’t shit.

Only meeting of 2008: Friday June 27 to Sunday June 29: Devil Rays @ Pirates.

Coming soon to Your Team Ain’t S#!t Compared To The Devil Rays….

On Deck: #2 The Houston Astros

In The Hole: #3 The Florida Marlins

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10 Responses to “Your Team Ain’t S#!t #1: The Pirates”
  1. Andy Smith says:

    The real downer of a plane crash this year would be that Dave Littlefield wasn’t around for it. It would be all metaphorical and stuff too, since that’s kind of what the franchise was under his leadership: a giant plane crash.

  2. Sara says:

    I, for one, would absolutely hate to see Barry Bonds playing in a Rays uniform. At this point, signing Bonds would just be a move overshadowing and therefore undermining the talent and potential that this team currently has. We finally got rid of Wade and now we can put our focus on winning games.
    Loving some Rays talk! This season is going to be our best ever.

  3. I don’t like the plane crash talk, it makes me a little uncomfortable. Our trusty sidekick Robotto Clemente doesn’t appreciate it either for obvious reasons.

    Sara –

    I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want Bonds as your DH. Bonds is one of the best players in the league and annually has an OPS around 1000. He’s not actually a cancer like the media wants you to believe and he’s not going to be a distraction because he will either win his court case, which won’t even begin until after the season, or the case will be dismissed because of the governments poor handling of everything or the head investigative agent’s ineptitude and bias toward Bonds. If you’ve read Game of Shadows, you would know the case is flimsy as heck and Novitzky was playing dirty. It’s all in the book. It’s incredibly unlikely to hold water.

    Bonds or not, this should be the best year for the Devil Rays ever. That’s not saying much but third place and 85 wins isn’t at all unlikely.

  4. David Chalk David Chalk says:

    It will ALWAYS be DEVIL Rays.


    Sara — the love is appreciated even if we may have to agree to disagree about the G-POPE, Barry Bonds.

  5. “The Plane Crash Test”?

    To quote Dan Marino: You’re a weird dude Ace. Weird Dude.

    Just messin with ya.

    And for the record, this is one of the best ideas I have seen on a baseball blog in a while (making team previews topical and unique).

  6. It’s gonna be hard for me to wait for Chalk to get to the Orioles.

    And wait a minute … did I miss something? When did Hulk read “Game of Shadows?”

  7. Gonzo says:

    Yeah, the plane crash talk is a bit disturbing. but otherwise, a good article. 30 days of team previews by a man who doesn’t hold back any punches. Terrific idea.

  8. Jon Steiner says:

    I’ve never seen so many people come to support someone making light of tragic plane crashes.

    Good work Chalk; hopefully it takes you awhile to get the India…the AL franchise from Cleveland.

  9. brian hall says:

    I’d miss Sanchez because he fills multiple positions on my fantasy team. He also batted 300 or better the last 2 years. By the way, can we make Corey Lidle the pilot in imaginary plane crashes.

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