SportsProf

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Guts in Pittsburgh

Or call it chicken, but the two most-tenured Pirates, SS Jack Wilson and 2B Freddy Garcia, rejected the Pirates' offer of contract extensions and will not counter. You can read about the negotiations -- or lack thereof -- here.

The Pirates are in a difficult spot. As the article points out, they lack prospects to replace their double-play duo. They're on the verge of their 17th straight losing season. They realize that the market for all players save the Roy Halladays has droppsed, and they recognize that you can get a replacement SS on the market for far less than what Wilson is making and what they offered. Still, they made what looked to be "in the ballpark" offers, only to get rejected flat-out.

And that takes some guts. The Pirates' front office risked aggravating its fan base by making this unpopular move, but it's the sort of move that franchises have to make to be successful. Heck, the Philadelphia Eagles' Andy Reid has made this sort of move for almost a decade, and while the Eagles' fans openly disdain the discaring of players like Brian Dawkins, history has proven Reid to be a great judge of when a player's value has diminished. The record -- and the polling data -- doesn't lie. Reid is viewed as being among the top 5 coaches in the NFL, and the Eagles have been to 5 NFC championship games in the past years.

Pirate fans right now would settle for a winning season, let alone a run at the playoffs. And to get there, the Pirates' front office have to do just what they're doing -- making value-oriented moves, playing the right kids, and fortifying their pitching staff. The Pirates will again be sellers in the next 10 days, and if they can move closer Matt Capps to a contender for a few prospects and perhaps Sanchez, who swings a good bat, they'd be wise to do just that.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and it will take a few more years for the Pirates to re-position their team and make a run in the ever-takeable NL Central. Playing hardball with Wilson and Sanchez -- despite their popularity -- is a good start.

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