PDA

View Full Version : Littlefield Fired--Pirates Hire Dan O'Brien (just kidding)



traderumor
09-07-2007, 02:31 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070907/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bbn_pirates_littlefield

Say hello to our next GM--again, just kidding--I think :p:


Pittsburgh Pirates fire Dave Littlefield By ALAN ROBINSON, AP Sports Writer
12 minutes ago



PITTSBURGH - General manager Dave Littlefield was fired Friday by the Pittsburgh Pirates after six-plus seasons in which the team showed little progress on the field or in its farm system.

ADVERTISEMENT

Director of player development Brian Graham will serve as the interim general manager until Littlefield's replacement is found.

The firing came with three weeks left in the season and the Pirates in their customary spot in last place in the NL Central, with a 61-79 record — three losses away from a 15th consecutive losing season, one off the major league record.

"After eight months of listening and analyzing this situation, it became clear that this decision was necessary to move our organization forward," Pirates board chairman Bob Nutting said. "While there are many bright spots for us to build from, I am not satisfied with the overall performance and progress that has been made."

No decision on the status of Littlefield or second-year manager Jim Tracy had been expected until after the season. Managing general partner Kevin McClatchy, who has run the day-to-day operations since 1996, is resigning when the season ends and his successor was expected to evaluate Littlefield and Tracy.

"It's tough," Tracy said. "It's real tough. He's more than friend to me. You hate to see people as passionate as Dave and who work as hard as they do at their craft lose their job. But decisions get made."

Tracy predicted Littlefield, the former top assistant to Tigers chief Dave Dombrowski when the two worked for the Marlins, will quickly find another job in baseball.

Littlefield, a former executive with the Marlins and Expos, succeeded Cam Bonifay midway through a 100-loss season in 2001 and was expected to make major changes in a franchise that had made little headway since winning three division titles in the early 1990s.

But the 47-year-old Littlefield's efforts to rebuild the low-budget Pirates failed, and the team never had fewer than 87 losses or finished higher than fourth in a full season during his stay. The Pirates had a 442-581 record, 139 games below .500, during his tenure and were 67-95 each of the last two full seasons.

The 2006 season was marked by a 13-game losing streak and this season's team lost 14 of 16 immediately after the All-Star break.

Nutting emphasized the Pirates will not hire a president-general manager but will fill both jobs separately.

"The search process for our new club process has clarified for me that the president and general manager position are two distinct functions," he said.

Littlefield inherited first-year manager Lloyd McClendon and kept him until firing him in early September 2005. Littlefield then brought in Tracy, with whom he had worked in Montreal's system.

But while Littlefield emphasized upon his 2001 hiring how he would build from within, that go-with-the-kids philosophy repeatedly got sidetracked. The Pirates frequently drafted pitchers in the first round only to have them develop arm problems — Bryan Bullington, Brad Lincoln, John Van Benschoten — or passed up better prospects for money reasons.

In June, they passed on catcher Matt Weiters — considered the best hitting prospect in the draft — with the No. 4 pick because they felt they couldn't afford to sign a Scott Boras-represented prospect. Their alternative pick, losing-record pitcher Danny Moskos of Clemson, visibly angered fans.

Many of Littlefield's moves seemed dictated by money, either that the Pirates didn't have or declined to spend. The prime example was trading run-producing third baseman Aramis Ramirez to the Cubs in 2003 so they wouldn't have to pay him the rest of his contract — a trade that Littlefield privately told colleagues he despised making.

Littlefield got mileage out of bargain-priced players passed over by others — Reggie Sanders, Matt Stairs, Kenny Lofton, Jeff Suppan — and made some excellent trades (Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche. But there were some curious player decisions, too, such as the signings of retreads Joe Randa and Jeromy Burnitz a year ago for $10 million.

Padres All-Star pitcher Chris Young was given $1 million-plus by the Pirates to pass up the rest of his college basketball career, then was dealt away in late 2002 for no apparent reason for reliever Matt Herges. Herges was promptly cut during spring training.

Littlefield's failure to protect some top prospects and keep marginal ones led the Pirates to lose five of the top six picks in the 2005 winter-meeting draft, resulting in audible laughter in the New Orleans hotel meeting room.

oneupper
09-07-2007, 02:33 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070907/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bbn_pirates_littlefield

Say hello to our next GM--again, just kidding--I think :p:

Bad news. Littlefield sucked and that was a good thing for the rest of the division.

traderumor
09-07-2007, 02:37 PM
I also noticed that O'Brien's possible choice for manager, Brian Graham, gets the interim gig. Of course, GMing in September isn't exactly a brisk time for dealing, maybe he'll sharpen pencils for the next guy.

NJReds
09-07-2007, 02:58 PM
Here's a list of his "highlights"

1/2/02 - Agreed to terms with free-agent RHP Mike Williams on a two-year contract with a club option for 2004.
12/20/02 - Acquired RHP Matt Herges from the Montreal Expos in exchange for minor league pitchers Chris Young and Jon Searles.
1/31/03 - Designated RHP Bronson Arroyo for assignment.
7/22/03 - Acquired IF Jose Hernandez, minor league RHP Matt Bruback and a player to be named later from Chicago Cubs for 3B Aramis Ramirez, OF Kenny Lofton and cash considerations.
11/20/03 - Claimed off waivers: pitcher Matt Guerrier by Minnesota, pitcher Duaner Sanchez by Los Angeles.
12/16/04 - Acquired C Benito Santiago, along with cash considerations, from Kansas City in exchange for RHP Leo Nunez.
7/28/05 - Acquired Minor League INF J.J. Furmaniak from the San Diego Padres in exchange for C David Ross.
7/31/05 - Acquired OF Jody Gerut and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for OF Matt Lawton.
1/4/06 - Signed OF Jeromy Burnitz to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2007.
2/28/06 - Agreed to terms with SS Jack Wilson on a three-year contract extension (through the 2009 season) with a club option for 2010.
7/31/06 - Acquired OF Xavier Nady from the New York Mets in exchange for RHP Roberto Hernandez and LHP Oliver Perez.
2/1/07 - Signed RHP Tony Armas Jr. to a one-year contract, with a club option for 2008.
7/31/07 - Acquired RHP Matt Morris from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for OF Rajai Davis and a player to be named.
Draft picks:

2002 - Bryan Bullington at #1 overall (over B.J. Upton, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Jeff Francis, Jeremy Hermida, Joe Saunders, Khalil Greene, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, James Loney, Jeremy Guthrie, Jeff Francoeur, Joe Blanton, and Matt Cain).
2006 - Brad Lincoln at #4 overall (over Andrew Miller, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Ian Kennedy)

George Anderson
09-07-2007, 03:00 PM
Wonder if this has anything to do with his former #1 pick Bryan Bullington making his MLB debut yesterday and stinking up the joint??

oneupper
09-07-2007, 03:08 PM
Party going on at http:///www.pittsburghsports.net

and probably every other Pirates board.

Matt700wlw
09-07-2007, 03:11 PM
Good for the Pirates......well, I guess anything would be good for the Pirates.

Tom Servo
09-07-2007, 03:12 PM
I can't believe he lasted as long as he did.

Falls City Beer
09-07-2007, 03:13 PM
I guess there should be rejoicing, but really, as Reds fans have learned after Bowden's axing, the new boss can bring his own stink...

Firing's the easy part.

Falls City Beer
09-07-2007, 03:14 PM
I can't believe he lasted as long as he did.

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh: two sides of the same toilet paper. Drag your feet, cross your fingers, and do nothing to improve the situation.

Johnny Footstool
09-07-2007, 03:38 PM
1/31/03 - Designated RHP Bronson Arroyo for assignment.
7/22/03 - Acquired IF Jose Hernandez, minor league RHP Matt Bruback and a player to be named later from Chicago Cubs for 3B Aramis Ramirez, OF Kenny Lofton and cash considerations.

This is a great example of a deal that looked like poo on the surface, and turned out to be incredibly noxious poo.

I didn't realize they *paid* the Cubs to take Ramirez off their hands. Sheer genius.

traderumor
09-07-2007, 03:41 PM
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh: two sides of the same toilet paper. Drag your feet, cross your fingers, and do nothing to improve the situation.There is an entire generation that really has no idea that these were two well-run franchises with boatloads of talent for almost a 20 year span.

flyer85
09-07-2007, 03:42 PM
the drafting of Bullington over Upton was a terrible start and it only went downhill from there.

Chip R
09-07-2007, 04:17 PM
Wonder if this has anything to do with his former #1 pick Bryan Bullington making his MLB debut yesterday and stinking up the joint??


Doubtful. Not even Steinbrenner's that impulsive.

Rojo
09-07-2007, 06:09 PM
I thought anyone would be an improvement over Bonifay. Guess I was wrong. Maybe they'll hire Allan Baird.

M2
09-09-2007, 11:25 PM
Wonder if the Pirates will be the next club to jump on the "Moneyball" train? Certainly their attempts to do it old school under Bonifay and Littlefield have turned up empty.

My favorite Littlefield trade - Chris Young for Matt Harges.

Bryan Bullington over Upton was pure insanity. Andrew McCutcheon over Jay Bruce and Brad Lincoln over Tim Lincecum may sting for a long time as well. Moves like that will haunt his successor.

As for his successor, trading Jack Wilson should be job #1.

Topcat
09-10-2007, 02:00 AM
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh: two sides of the same toilet paper. Drag your feet, cross your fingers, and do nothing to improve the situation.


God your agenda obvious. When I look at Krivskys body of work. I see Phillips, Hamilton, Arroyo, Keppinger, to a lesser extent Ross. You can swing at the pitching misses but what about the gains? Burton, the re-signing of Harang and Arroyo? Last I checked nobody I mean nobody is giving away talented youth. Forget the misses Fall's Krivs has done a significant lot in under 2 years.

KronoRed
09-10-2007, 02:35 AM
I think FCB is talking about a little more then the last 2 years, since these teams had playoff runs in the early to mid 90's they have both been regulars in badteamville over multiple owners and GM's.

traderumor
09-10-2007, 05:02 PM
Wonder if the Pirates will be the next club to jump on the "Moneyball" train? Certainly their attempts to do it old school under Bonifay and Littlefield have turned up empty.

Good question. I was watching them play the Cubs the other night in arguably the best new ballpark in either league and how it was only half full because of the opponent. I wonder if it is that simple, because I still think that Beane is an artist moreso than providing a scientfic model.

Which to me begs the really big question--what are the most realistic paths that perenially clueless teams like the Pirates, Reds, Devil Rays, Rangers and Royals do to get out of the morass? The most frequent suggestion is "tear it down," but to me that is a simplistic response that is not practical for going concerns.

M2
09-10-2007, 05:21 PM
Good question. I was watching them play the Cubs the other night in arguably the best new ballpark in either league and how it was only half full because of the opponent. I wonder if it is that simple, because I still think that Beane is an artist moreso than providing a scientfic model.

Which to me begs the really big question--what are the most realistic paths that perenially clueless teams like the Pirates, Reds, Devil Rays, Rangers and Royals do to get out of the morass? The most frequent suggestion is "tear it down," but to me that is a simplistic response that is not practical for going concerns.

Interesting topic. I'd say the two keys are for the organization to be brutally honest with itself and for it to seek excellence where it can be found. One of the problems with the Pirates is the franchise has so few standout talents. It's actually got a solid supporting cast if you could add some superlatives to lead the team.

But the main thing would be the brutal honesty part. If you can identify where you're weak and what you have to build around, then you can take some corrective action. I'd say a lot of the perennial losers in MLB simply don't understand their predicament so it makes it almost impossible for them to climb out of it.

RedsManRick
09-10-2007, 06:07 PM
I'm not so sure it's just an issue of honesty M2. I think there's a legitimate problem with player valuation in a lot of the poorly run organizations. They honestly think Jack Wilson is a plus player. They project likelihoods based on upsides rather than means.

I absolutely have no inside connections, but I don't think they lie to themselves. They just don't understand the truth. I think most GMs get their jobs because there is something or some things at which they are excellent. You don't get that kind of job just through luck and connections. Maybe it's talent evaluation, maybe it's personnel management, maybe it's budgeting.

You hear all the time about how so-and-so is a great baseball man, has been in the industry for a long time, "really knows what it takes to win", and "wants to win". But the teams who perennially stink are missing part of the picture from the top. For the Reds it's player development. For the Royals it's failure to capitalize on developed assets. For the Pirates it's stupid trades and low ceiling FA moves.

I'd love to see the Astros and Pirates both get new generation GMs who "get it" across the board. Be it a Depodesta, Kim Ng, or Chris Antonetti (who I think will get the Pirates job). It would be fun to have the level of competition stepped up, even if we have enough trouble competing as is.

M2
09-10-2007, 06:18 PM
I'm not so sure it's just an issue of honesty M2. I think there's a legitimate problem with player valuation in a lot of the poorly run organizations. They honestly think Jack Wilson is a plus player. They project likelihoods based on upsides rather than means.

I absolutely have no inside connections, but I don't think they lie to themselves. They just don't understand the truth.

Yet they have to recognize at some point that their projections constantly miss. Littlefield was on the job for six years. After a few years of reality not meeting expectations, an honest organization would have to recognize that it's missing something fundamental.

Instead a lot of these perennial losers seem to act like they've once again discovered the secret to life, the universe and everything at the end of each season. Miraculously these franchises have always been in possession of what they need the whole time and they've just failed to see it. To me that's a fundmental and routine failure to do an incisive internal examination.

RedsManRick
09-10-2007, 06:50 PM
Just semantic differences I suppose. You could almost call insanity in a lot of cases. They keep doing the same thing over and over again and wonder why the results don't change.

I remember a quote from some football insider to the effect of "If you build a team that will be great if everybody plays up to their potential, everybody stays motivated, and nobody gets injured, then don't be surprised when they go 6-10."

M2
09-10-2007, 07:33 PM
I remember a quote from some football insider to the effect of "If you build a team that will be great if everybody plays up to their potential, everybody stays motivated, and nobody gets injured, then don't be surprised when they go 6-10."

Fantastic quote. That really does get to the heart of it. What you ideally want is a team where pretty much everything could go wrong and you'd still win 85 games.

Chip R
09-10-2007, 08:47 PM
Which to me begs the really big question--what are the most realistic paths that perenially clueless teams like the Pirates, Reds, Devil Rays, Rangers and Royals do to get out of the morass? The most frequent suggestion is "tear it down," but to me that is a simplistic response that is not practical for going concerns.


Tearing it down is a simplistic approach. It did work for the Marlins but they acquired a lot of talent in those trades and they have front office people that can actually spot good talent. Plus they have the luxury of playing in a city where they don't care that much about the Marlins. Any idiot can tear down but it takes someone pretty bright to build it back up.

It also takes a little luck too. DET was fortunate a guy like Jim Leyland was available to manage. FLA was fortunate to get to the playoffs bith times they won the Series since they were winners of the wild card. The Reds were unlucky in 99 when they lost the wild card playoff and when Jr. kept getting hurt.

Even the advantage you get out of being a perennial ne'er do well doesn't always work i.e. the draft. Look at the Yankees. They are always in the playoffs and as a result have a low draft position. Yet they reached down in their system this year and brought up Chamberlain - who is supposed to be a future starter, Hughes - who got hurt but shows a lot of promise - and Kennedy. All home grown, IIRC. Now maybe they have enough money to hire more scouts to beat the bushes for these players. Maybe they have more money to ire the right kind of minor league instructors to teach these players better. They also have been able to afford to wait on players like these until this season. Meanwhile a team like the Reds brings up a Homer Bailey because of fan pressure and the lack of better options.

I don't know what the answer is. I don't think it's just money. The Rangers tried spending big money on A-Rod and Park and it got them bupkis. Do you just be patient and build like the Brewers or do you just start from scratch?

Rojo
09-10-2007, 09:09 PM
I'd build a bigger park.

M2
09-10-2007, 09:15 PM
One thing to keep in mind about the Brewers and Twins is that it took a long time for both franchises to get the development game right. Both got stuck in the rut that's infected the Pirates, the lack of standout talent. When you look at what was in those systems in the '90s, it can set off almost uncontrollable yawning. Minnesota has since churned out a far more interesting batch of players - Mauer, Morneau, Hunter, not to mention a steady stream of swing-and-miss relievers. Milwaukee's got two premium bats (Fielder and Braun), two all-around gems (Hart and Hardy) and two fascinating, if frustating talents (Hall and Hart). It sure beats the days of Matt Mieske.

It gets back to the whole talent recognition thing, but both of those franchises stopped ordering vanilla everytime they went to the Baskin-Robbins.

cincinnati chili
09-11-2007, 02:10 AM
I'm not so sure it's just an issue of honesty M2. I think there's a legitimate problem with player valuation in a lot of the poorly run organizations. They honestly think Jack Wilson is a plus player. They project likelihoods based on upsides rather than means.

I absolutely have no inside connections, but I don't think they lie to themselves. They just don't understand the truth. I think most GMs get their jobs because there is something or some things at which they are excellent. You don't get that kind of job just through luck and connections. Maybe it's talent evaluation, maybe it's personnel management, maybe it's budgeting.

You hear all the time about how so-and-so is a great baseball man, has been in the industry for a long time, "really knows what it takes to win", and "wants to win". But the teams who perennially stink are missing part of the picture from the top. For the Reds it's player development. For the Royals it's failure to capitalize on developed assets. For the Pirates it's stupid trades and low ceiling FA moves.

I'd love to see the Astros and Pirates both get new generation GMs who "get it" across the board. Be it a Depodesta, Kim Ng, or Chris Antonetti (who I think will get the Pirates job). It would be fun to have the level of competition stepped up, even if we have enough trouble competing as is.

Great, great post.

I never heard Littlefield say it, but in 2002 I did hear lower-level management people state that Jack Wilson's potential was a factor in their not drafting B.J. Upton. That's just plain stupid.

There's a rumor, reported on ESPN.com, that Frank Coonelly may get hired as Pirates' president. I have seen this guy in action, and he's as ruthless and persistent a negotiator as anyone on the planet. Think Larry Lucchino with more player-specific baseball knowledge. That kind of brains and toughness can be a good thing.

But that toughness also comes with a reputation. It might be enough to scare a guy like Antonetti away. Antonetti has turned down GM interviews before, and I don't think he's going to be too jazzed about working for a meddler... even if it's a very skilled meddler.

Fun fact: Antonetti is the product of the same sport management grad program as Dave Littlefield... and ME.

cincinnati chili
09-11-2007, 08:03 PM
This article says Coonelly will be named president:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07254/816561-63.stm

This blog discusses possible GM candidates:

http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates/2007/09/10/please-stay-away-from-peter-woodfork-pirates/

westofyou
09-16-2007, 07:45 PM
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6716


"Ideally, you would like to have a general manager in place by the end of the season (Sept. 30) so he can start making the necessary decisions to prepare for next year," Coonelly said. "However, I also don’t want to rush into a decision because it if was very important that we find the right person for the job." Coonelly also said he would look at candidates of varying backgrounds for the job: "I’m not wedded to the idea that we either have to hire a 'baseball guy' who is 50 or older who knows nothing about statistics, or a 'numbers guy' who is in his 20s and has an Ivy League education. I don’t want to close us off to any particularly candidate because I know there are a lot of good ones out there and I’m very confident we will find the one who can help us get back to being a winning franchise."

Coonelly did make one thing clear, though. Statistic analysis will be part of the Pirates’ player evaluations from now on. "I’m not saying statistics tell the whole story, but I’ve seen how using statistical analysis as part of making personnel decisions has helped clubs build winning teams," Coonelly said. "The first thing I did when I met with the people in the baseball operations department was to have them give me an inventory of all the statistical data that is available to us. I want to make sure we have the absolute best and broadest amount of date possible to analyze when making player moves. That’s a must for me."


From the rumor mill: The Pirates plan to keep their GM search private but among those expected to be interviewed are Mets VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard, Blue Jays player personnel director Tony LaCava, the Brewers' special assistant to the GM and amateur scouting director, Jack Zduriencik, D'backs AGM Peter Woodfork, and Phillies AGM Ruben Amaro Jr. .

M2
09-17-2007, 01:28 PM
Zduriencik seems to have an eye for top-end talent, which is what the Bucs most need.

cincinnati chili
09-17-2007, 01:53 PM
Zduriencik seems to have an eye for top-end talent, which is what the Bucs most need.

He's earning a reputation as someone who doesn't give a flying rat butt about the conventional wisdom during the draft. Prince Fielder was supposed to go late in the first round, and the Brewers were criticized.

Oh well.

Matt LaPorta was considered an overdraft this year. But look what he did to the Sally League (homer every 8.8 at bats)

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=Matt%20LaPorta&pos=OF&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=453181

And that guy Ryan Braun isn't doing too bad either.

I don't know what his philosophy is at the major league level. I hear him talk a lot about strikeouts (for hitters), which I have no problem with when scouting amateurs. It's not as big a deal with major leaguers.

cincinnati chili
09-21-2007, 09:42 PM
It looks like Neil Huntington will replace Littlefield.

He's another UMass sport management grad, and he worked with Littlefield on the Expos.

He's considered much more of a stat-head than a scout, however. He never played ball above Division III college:

http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates/2007/09/21/perrotto-says-new-pirate-gm-is-neal-huntington/

The conventional wisdom was that Coonelly would pick more of a traditional evaluator to be GM, to counteract his background as a lawyer.

This demonstrates that Coonelly doesn't give a poo about the conventional wisdom, which is probably a good thing for Pirates fans.

M2
09-21-2007, 10:17 PM
Will Huntington be looking for folks with sports management and legal backgrounds? Perhaps somebody with some familiarity with the Pirates system would be a choice.

cincinnati chili
09-22-2007, 03:31 AM
Will Huntington be looking for folks with sports management and legal backgrounds? Perhaps somebody with some familiarity with the Pirates system would be a choice.

If what you say is true, it's imperative that the spouse of the persons you describe permit the relocation of the family unit to the metro-Pittsburgh area.

Chip R
09-25-2007, 03:42 PM
It looks like Neil Huntington will replace Littlefield.


It's official

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070925/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bbn_pirates_gm;_ylt=AqLTOfHwEdRlxRIa9ruKkvSs0NUE

cincinnati chili
09-25-2007, 06:28 PM
It's official

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070925/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bbn_pirates_gm;_ylt=AqLTOfHwEdRlxRIa9ruKkvSs0NUE

Yeah, baseball prospectus had some objections to the slant of that story. BP thinks this was a thinly-veiling slam of Neil Huntington.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=540