sAN FRANCISCO -- A future that confuses some in the Pirates' clubhouse, concerns others and throws still more into quiet conniptions at least seems to contain clarity for pitcher Paul Maholm, signed last winter to a contract befitting a building block to that hazy someday.
"All of us are kind of ... ," Maholm began yesterday at AT&T Park, amid a heavy day of trading that saw the front office deal Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez and Ian Snell for shortstop Ronny Cedeno and six prospects. "We don't know when it's going to be finally over, that we actually have the guys in here who are going to turn it around. Hopefully, it's soon. I think the guys that have been here four or five years, it seems like every trading deadline, we go through it. But we've got a job to do. We've got to play, and we've got to win games. ... Until we starting winning, this is going to continue to happen."
Maholm and most of these Pirates have seen an entire starting infield along with an entire starting outfield, plus a fourth, all exit via trades the past 368 days: Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Jose Bautista, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche. Lest anyone forget dependable relievers Damaso Marte and Sean Burnett, plus utilityman Eric Hinske.
Longtime Pirates still standing? There aren't many. Maholm, Zach Duke, Matt Capps and Ryan Doumit -- "I don't have anything to say," was all he offered -- are in their fifth Pirates season, graybeard John Grabow his seventh. Grabow becomes the club's second oldest vet, at 30, behind only Ramon Vazquez, 32.
"Ever since I've been here, seems like we do it every year," Duke said after pitching seven shutout innings in what became a 1-0 Giants victory in 10 innings at AT&T Park yesterday. "You kind of get used to it."
One player swore he never saw so much movement in revolving-door Class AAA.
"Unbelievable," one muttered about the drastic change.
Then again, there remains another day and a half of shopping left until tomorrow's 4 p.m. trade deadline.
"It's like every other day we're trading. ... one of the team leaders," said Andy LaRoche, whom yesterday's deals transformed into their longest-tenured regular infielder or outfielder, with hours less than one calendar year of Pirates service. He watched his brother's trade to Boston start this infield mass. "It's my first full season, I don't think it's normal for a team to be like this. They're the ones making these decisions. If they think that's what it takes, I guess we just have to believe in them."
Not that he was criticizing management. Rather, LaRoche recognized that such moves mean the brass expects the youngsters to grab the wheel previously steered by Wilson, Sanchez and the like.
"A bunch of young guys, including myself, are going to have to step up and take on some roles, whether it's on the field or in the clubhouse," LaRoche said. "We're going to have to have guys step it up who didn't expect to be a leader on this team. Pretty much all our veterans are gone. All our team is, is young guys now pretty much."
"I still have a job to do," Capps said a few hours before yielding the winning run in the 10th inning. "Every one in here has their respective job to do. No matter who goes or who's next, if there are any more, we've got to put our noses to the grindstone."
"Our clubhouse is no different atmosphere-wise, just different faces," manager John Russell said. "I think it's going to be a group effort as much right now as one or two guys stepping up. It's the 25 guys out there as a whole, they got to pull together, keep things going the right way. We're not worried about it. We can't. The guys have been great all year long. It's not something we're going to hang our hat on that's why we're losing. We've been close all year. They're not going to let it be a factor."