Our Yearly Pirates WTF

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007, 8:10 am

I challenge anyone to explain the Pirates insane decision to acquire Matt Morris and his TEN MILLION DOLLAR contract. When I heard about the deal I said, "Can’t be THAT Matt Morris." I mean, why are the Pirates trading prospects (not that the Pirates really HAVE prospects) for a 33-year-old pitcher?

Of course, that was hardly the most astonishing piece of the deal. No, what gets the jaws to dropping is that the Pirates took on Morris’ ENTIRE CONTRACT. The sticking point with San Fran trading Morris was how much money the Giants would have to eat, and then Brian Sabean’s phone rang right before the deadline and he probably thought he was being pranked. I mean, it was just moments before the trade deadline expired…everyone knew Sabean desperately wanted to cut payroll…so why would this "Dave Littlefield" call and, seemingly with a lot of leverage, agree to take on the entire $10 million? Because, unfortunately for Pirate fans, a crank caller named "Dave Littlefield" would be a better GM than the actual Dave Littlefield driving the Pirates over the cliff.

Morris becomes the highest paid player in Pirate history. I think this bears repeating!! Matt Morris, a 33-year-old pitcher with a 7-7 record this year and a 7.94 ERA since mid-June, is the highest paid player in Pirate history. Next year his salary will make up TWENTY PERCENT of the team’s payroll.

Morris had chafed over playing for a last place team and criticized his teammates for sloppy, lackadaisical play. Matt, welcome to Pittsburgh! And he sounds thrilled to be moving East:

"It is what it is," Morris said in a phone interview with The Associated Press from the Giants’ hotel in Los Angeles. "I’m just moving on. It’s just a shock. You hear rumors. I never heard Pittsburgh."

Reaction in the media has ranged from the incredulous to the apoplectic. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

In a stunning deal announced shortly after today’s trade deadline, the Giants sent pitcher Matt Morris to the Pittsburgh Pirates for speedy center fielder Rajai Davis and a player to be named.

That the Giants traded Morris is not a surprise. He was scouted by many contenders. The shock is where he is headed — another last-place team.

Note the words "stunning" and "shock". This from the town Morris was traded from.

The hometown media was a bit less kind. From Bob Smizik’s column this morning, headlined "Littlefield Reveals His Desperation:

Don’t call the Pirates cheap. Don’t you dare.

You can, however, continue to call them clueless.

And, later in Smizik’s column:

It again brings into question, as have so many other moves in the past, whether anyone in the Pirates’ organization knows what they’re doing.

I don’t think there’s any question, Bob.

And what do Littlefield’s contemporaries think about the deal? From Jason Stark’s deadline wrapup:

For the next two hours, after people around baseball learned of this deal, they couldn’t stop calling, e-mailing and texting reactions that could probably be summed up with three succinct words: WHAT THE BX!GRZFDQ!!!!!

And…

But the Giants were just about begging teams to take Morris and offering to chomp big chunks of his money if they had to. Then this team going nowhere dropped out of the sky and took the man and the money. What a country. "That move," said one incredulous front-office man, "is so far out of left field, it’s in the Monongahela."

Welcome to Pittsburgh, Matt. Out of the frying pan, as it were, and into the fire.

Oh, and who did the Bucs give up to acquire Morris’ albatrossian contract? Outfield prospect Rajai Davis and a player to be named later. Expect both Davis and the PTBNL to become successful, productive major leaguers in the very near future, just as so many other players the Pirates inexplicable gave up on have done. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna watch my DVD of the Steelers beating the Broncos in the 2006 AFC Title game. And have a breakfast Yuengling.

UPDATE: I didn’t see Keith Law’s review of the deal over at ESPN. Perhaps a good thing, as it’s titled "Pirates Clearly Asleep at the Switch". He writes:

Another year, another bizarre acquisition by the Pirates. But while last year’s move to get Shawn Chacon was puzzling, acquiring Matt Morris is inexcusable.

The last thing the Pirates need is another starter who gives up more than a hit an inning, but they got one in Morris. And unlike their other hittable starters, he’s expensive. Morris is in the second season of a three-year, $27 million deal, so unless the Giants are kicking in some cash, he’ll take up nearly 20 percent of the Pirates’ payroll while contributing little or no value. To make matters worse, Morris has been pitching poorly of late, and he’ll no longer get the protection offered by AT&T Park to pitchers with fringy stuff. There’s no justification for this trade — given how low the Pirates’ payroll is, they just handicapped themselves for the next two years and it’s not like they’re making a push for the pennant this year. The Pirates are going nowhere right now, and with this deal, they’re not going anywhere in the near future, either.

So let’s look at the adjectives used to describe the deal: "stunning", "shock", "clueless", "incredulous", "bizarre", "inexcusable". Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2007…2008…2009 Pittsburgh Pirates!!

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16 Responses to “Our Yearly Pirates WTF”

  1. bub Says:

    Did they use the word “unbelievable”? Sounds like The Padres of the ’70’s and 80’s.

  2. Daddy Says:

    I’ve been following baseball for 20+ years, and pretty in depth for the past 15. This is, without a single doubt, the worst move I’ve ever seen.

  3. JoeSpeaker Says:

    When I saw that, I figured I was halluncinating, that perhaps Donkey Puncher spiked my beer with peyote last night.

    Honestly, I’m still not entirely convinced this deal really happened becasue why would it? What possible justification could there be?

  4. mhr Says:

    This deal might make sense if the Pirates had serious hopes of contending in 2008. But since they haven’t sniffed .500 since 1992 (nor .450 since 2003), that seems a forlorn hope. Instead, the Pirates seem intent on claiming the Royals’ mantle of “most futile team in baseball”. (At least the Devil Rays have some good young players.)

    Morris’ saving grace is that he’s a pronounced groundball pitcher, and his walk rate is better-than-average. But other than that he’s nothing special. It’s probably reasonable to expect league-average results from him, although with a high variability. And in any event, $10M is overpaying for that performance, even in today’s market, and especially when the rest of the team is not that good.

    My condolences.

  5. Nik Says:

    Nope. Nothing about this deal made sense. I think just about every Pittsburgh blogger has been flipping shit about it.

    http://www.sportsmontage.com/?p=65

  6. senor fuentes Says:

    this deal makes perfect sense. a long time ago matt morris had a great year. an even longer time ago, the pirates had a great year. so, put the two together for their respective comebacks.

    man #1: mr. littlefield, meet mr. mirror. mr. mirror–
    littlefield: but that’s picture of a jackass
    everybody: exactly!

  7. vinnie Says:

    I really think I should send the Pirates my resume. The new CEO will certainly clean house, and I certainly can’t do any worse than Dave Littlebrain.

  8. Charles (ugarte) Says:

    I have been out of the poker blogger scene so long that I didn’t think to write to you. But I immediately sent a WTF? post to Pat at WHYGAVS. I am appalled. This is worse than signing Jeromy Burnitz.

    By that I mean “this is worse than if Littlefield resigned Burnitz tomorrow.”

  9. Bugs & Cranks » Rounding the Bases: Breaking Records is Apparently Hard Says:

    [...] Trading for Matt Morris seemed like a good idea…to Dave Littlefield [Gene Bromberg] [...]

  10. The ‘Ocracy Weekender 8-03-07 | sportsocracy [dot] org Says:

    [...] The finest article on the Matt Morris deal allowed by law – Gene Bromberg [...]

  11. The ‘Ocracy Weekender 8-03-07 | sportsocracy [dot] org Says:

    [...] The finest article on the Matt Morris deal allowed by law – Gene Bromberg [...]

  12. cc Says:

    Here’s a word for you: relegation

  13. Gene Bromberg » Blog Archive : Darkness Falls Says:

    [...] most obvious candidate to be traded, based on his salary??? Are you frickin’ kidding me? As I wrote not so long ago, the Morris trade was one of the worst in Pirate history, and that’s saying something. The [...]

  14. Gene Bromberg » Blog Archive : Can't Wait for Spring Training! Says:

    [...] The Pirates are one of the worst teams in the majors, and they’re only going to get worse. Matt Morris’ absurd contract will prevent the Bucs from making ANY improvements via free agency, and almost certainly players [...]

  15. The Spring Follies -- Gene Bromberg.com, the new home for Mean Gene's poker blog Says:

    [...] year he apparently signed off on former GM Dave Littlefield’s acquisition of Matt Morris, the Worst Goddam Trade in the History of the Pittsburgh Pirates. A responsible owner not only would’ve rejected this idiotic deal, he would’ve had the [...]

  16. The Sad, Inevitable End -- Gene Bromberg.com, the new home for Mean Gene's poker blog Says:

    [...] no pleasure in the Pirates releasing Matt Morris today. When the Bucs traded for Morris last year I said the trade was a world-class blunder. Nor was I alone in that judgement–just about everyone on the [...]

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