For years now, Pittsburgh has been known as the graveyard for baseball players. To simplify it, players would come to Pittsburgh for one last stop before they turned in their baseball cleats. Just look at it over the years.
- Raul Mondesi
- Jose Mesa
- Jeromy Burnitz
- Matt Morris
- Derek Bell
This list is just the players off the top of my head that made their last stop, or close to their last stop before throwing in the towel. To put it nicely, each of the players didn’t enjoy their best years in their career when with the Pirates. More recently, we’ve seen three more candidates to join the Pirates’ graveyard Hall of Shame. Rod Barajas, Erik Bedard and Clint Barmes could all be making (or in Bedard’s case since he was released, already made) their last stop in the big leagues.
But this year, there seems to be a different trend. While the above three have all been less than stellar, it’s been what has taken place around the league that has been surprising. There have been five former Pirates who have recently played with the team who have taken off. Ryan Ludwick, Luiz Cruz, Pedro Ciriaco, Nate McLouth and Brandon Moss have all contributed in big ways to their new teams. Let’s examine shall we.
Ryan Ludwick – Neal Huntington brought in Ludwick last year at the trade deadline from San Diego. Ludwick struggled in Pittsburgh posting a .232/.341/.330 line with two home runs and 11 RBI. This year however, Ludwick has been a big spark and a big part of the Cincinnati Reds run to their likely National League Central title. This year, Ludwick has a .273/.345/.536 line with 26 home runs and 77 RBI.
Luis Cruz – To be fair, Cruz only appeared in 49 games for the Pirates, but his highest average was .224. For the Dodgers, Cruz has played in 62 games this season (he only played in 56 previously combined) and has added clutch hit after clutch hit for L.A. including the past two nights. Cruz has a .297/.329/.438 line in Hollywood as the Dodgers remain in the playoff hunt.
Pedro Ciriaco – Ciriaco was the guy you would see on the bench last year that you may not have known who he was. He only had 34 plate appearances last year despite being called up about 25 times it seemed. So if Ciriaco didn’t get a chance here, he must not be anything serious right? The Red Sox felt different. Granted they are having a dismal season, but Ciriaco at times has been their best player. Yes, the Red Sox and their huge payroll have counted on Ciriaco at many times this season. Ciriaco has a .300/.317/.410 line and more impressively, has killed the Yankees this season with a .429/.442/.595 line in 11 games.
Nate McLouth – McLouth is a familiar name for Pirates’ fans both for good and bad reasons. McLouth was the former All Star for the Pirates before being traded to Atlanta. After struggling there, Huntington signed McLouth to a contract this year hoping to rejuvenate him. Well, plan failed. McLouth posted a putrid .140/.210/.175 line in 34 games with the Pirates before being released. Continuing to plan, McLouth went to the Orioles and has helped them to a first place tie with the Yankees in the division. McLouth has a .272/.342/.426 line in 38 games with the Orioles. While Camden Yards is a hitter friendly park, PNC Park isn’t exactly unfair to left-handers either.
Brandon Moss – The Pirates acquired Moss in the Jason Bay trade in 2008. In his stint in Pittsburgh, we saw the power potential, but Moss could never put it all together. In Oakland, Moss has turned that potential into actual power. Moss has 18 home runs in 67 games with the Athletics as they make a serious run towards the playoffs.
So the question is, why are the performing in other places but not Pittsburgh? All except Cruz and Ciriaco were given a true chance to perform in Pittsburgh, so what is it? Is it that Huntington can’t acquire a Major League bat? The sad truth is, we don’t know who to place the blame on. Is it Greg Ritchie? The head scouts? Or could it just be the team? We don’t know the truth which is the worst part. The only thing we can do is hope this trend ends or wait and see who the next player to fall victim to it is. Jose Tabata or Jordy Mercer anyone?
Photo Credits: RSVLTS.com