And then there were four…

Driving to work today, I heard a frightening stat on the radio — of the 25 guys who were on the Pirates’ Major League roster on Opening Day 2008, five of them remain on the Pirates’ Major League roster today: Matt Capps, John Grabow, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, and Ryan Doumit.

When I got home from work today, I heard another frightening stat — John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny have been traded to the Cubs.  So now there are four.

I have mixed emotions about this trade.  Honestly, I’m pretty happy for Grabow and Gorzo — I know that Grabow loves playing at Wrigley, and I know that Gorzo is from the Chicago area.  So I’m sure they’ll both enjoy their new digs.

But as for me, I need a tourniquet!  In some ways, I’m glad that Neal Huntington is pulling off all of these deals in rapid succession, because that’s what you do with a Band-Aid, is rip it right off.  But when the Band-Aid is covering a deep, gaping wound that is gushing blood, having it removed only leads to more pain.

Let me reiterate that I believe in Neal’s plan.  Much as I thought his “we’re not breaking up the ’27 Yankees” comment after yesterday’s trades was caustic, it was also true — that’s part of why it hurt so much.  Obviously, as an organization, the Pirates that he inherited were in need of some major help, in every facet of the game and every level of the system.

But did we have to go to this extreme?  I mean, I don’t even know who the face of the franchise is anymore.  I don’t even know if I relate to any of the current Pirates, much less feel like I have a personal connection to them.  (This is a bit of an exaggeration — I’ve met Maholm, Duke, and Doumit several times, and have always found them to be really nice guys.)  Honestly, I’m afraid to pick a new favorite Pirate because he might get traded away.

And let me say, too, that I’m getting a little worn out from having all these extra box scores to check.  Now, when I read my sports section at lunch, I have to give an in-depth look to no less than six other teams: the Red Sox (How’s Jay-Bay doing?  Is LaRoche sinking or swimming?); the Braves (How’s Nate doing?), the Nattys (How’s Nyjer doing?  Did Burnett pitch?); the Mariners (How’s Jack doing?  Did Snell implode yet?); the Giants (How’s Freddy doing?); and the Cubs (Did Gorzo pitch?  What about Johnny Grabs?).  In some ways, I feel like I’m following two teams — the Pirates, and the ex-Pirates.

And you know who I feel the worst for in this whole situation?  Ryan Doumit.  Sure, Maholm, Duke, and Capps are also the lone wolves remaining from Opening Day 2008, but they have each other as fellow pitchers, and they can relate to one another on those grounds.  But what must Doumit, the only position player left from a year ago, think about all of this?  He was visibly upset by Jack’s trade yesterday, and offered a “no comment” to the media in regard to Freddy’s.  Is he feeling duped right now?  I mean, he, like Maholm, signed a long-term deal coming into this year.  He also busted his butt to come back from his wrist injury early, to the point of staying with the team during his rehab so that he could continue to work with the pitchers.  He’s got to be feeling sort of foolish, sort of angry, and sort of uncertain.  And he has every right to be.

Because you know what?  Whether you like the plan or not, whether you agree with the plan or not, whether you believe in Neal or not, the Pirates are, right now, a laughingstock in Major League Baseball.  I’ve heard several derisive remarks in the media, calling them the Pittsburgh Prospects.  The worst was last night, on FSN Final Score, when their snarky and annoying announcer stated, “Well, the Pirates’ fire sale continues…the Mariners and Giants were left to pick through what’s left of the Pirates.”  So if Ryan Doumit is feeling a little upset — or, heck, highly upset — by all this, I’m OK with that.  Because honestly, I am, too.

At my parents’ house, my dad has this mug on his desk that was given to him when he left one of his previous jobs.  Each of his co-workers had jotted a message on the mug in black marker, and while most of them wished him luck or stated that he’d be missed, one simply read, “Take me with you!”

Of the four remaining Pirate “veterans,” Doumit, Maholm, Duke, and Capps (can you call them veterans if their combined Major League service time — in terms of months of the season — is approximately 94 months and exactly 851 games, and their average age is, by my count, 26.86?), you’ve got to wonder who among them would write a similar sentiment on a mug given to Bay, Nady, Marte, Bautista, Paulino, McLouth, Hinske, Morgan, Burnett, LaRoche, Wilson, Snell, Sanchez, Grabow, or Gorzelanny (and who among us would fault him for it).  Have I forgotten anyone?  If so, I blame it on lightheadedness — you know, from a loss of blood.


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