Readers Forum: Dave Littlefield's legacy with the Pirates
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The Pittsburgh Pirates fired General Manager Dave Littefield Friday morning. We asked Pirates fans to offer their thoughts on the firing and what the team needs to do next to field a winning team. They had plenty to say:
Both McClatchy and Littlefield should have been waxed about 5 years ago. It was clear from the start that neither of them had a clue about baseball. Remember that McClatchy hired Littlefield. Hopefully McClatchy will go back to Sacramento and sell newspapers.
He was clearly just a rich kid that had no idea about what he was doing. This is a clear sign that the partners behind the Pirates have finally seen the light. McClatchy had the opportunity to resign and save face. Why couldn't Littlefield see the writing on the wall?
Maybe the Pirates owners should talk to the Rooney's so they can learn howto recast an organization in an efficient manner. Sometimes the status quo just has to hit the bricks. For the Pirates it's long overdue.
-- Brandon Seitz, Charleroi
First reaction was what a relief as the Pirates have not come close to winning under his reign. The record speaks for itself. Upon further inspection, we do not know what his constraints were as he rarely revealed them to the public. He was known for holding information close to his vest. Whatever we knew about negotiations were what we heard from the other party. This is a very professional thing to do. What is the point in airing these things in the media. It could have compromised his position in future negotiations.
When Mr. Littlefield took the job, there were several contracts that the Pirates had that he rid the team of. The Pirates finances appear better he was the GM. There were several questionable deals that were made and there was a lack of investment in Latin America. Overall, I will wonder the constraints put on by ownership and what the alternatives were given those constraints.
-- Dave John, New York
It is about time that someone realizes that Littlefield was worth nothing. I mean when you look at all his trades they are a complete screw up. Everytime he knew that he was not making a good trade he would come back with an excuse. The 3 trades that were supposedly good for this franchise in my mind were i think lucky. I mean we trade a guy who is hurt for the whole year and Atlanta gives us a guy in return for a guy who can't hit in the first half of the year. He also trades away Brian Giles for Oliver Perez and Jason Bay, now look at what they have done. Bay has done nothing but stink it up ALL YEAR LONG, and Oliver Perez has been pitching rather well for the Mets. Then he passes up on what could have been the GREATEST thing for this franchise, a trade for Ryan Howard. I mean give me a break did he really think Ty Wiggington would hit more home runs than Ryan Howard. I just hope that Bob Nutting and his crew get their act together and hire someone who has some guts to spend and REALLY improve this team. Oh by the way, why don't they get rid of Jim Tracy.
-- Michael Kubanda, Sugar Land, Texas
One has only to look at yesterday's game to get a gauge on Littlefield's tenure as GM: Brian Bullington, the former No 1 pick is shelled in less than 3 innings; John Van Benschoten the converted first baseman, follows him to the mound and gets rocked harder. The Pirate pitching, supposedly the strength of this team is in shambles, and we have no big league catcher anywhere in the organization. Enough already!
-- Paul Alessio, Pittsburgh
In fairness, it's impossible for anyone but a Pirates' insider to know if Littlefield's decisions on keeping or moving players were forced on him by financial limitations or -- an even worse alternative ??? it was the result of free thinking. Today, Littlefield is the convenient target when, in reality, there is plenty of blame to go around -- ownership, talent evaluation, talent scouting and even player development. During Littlefield's tenure, the Pirates organization certainly earned a failing grade in terms of personnel decisions. For all the high draft choices (booby prizes) the Pirates have "won" over the past several years, they have far too little to show for it ??? current prospects included. And, in terms of all the player trades over the years, it may be that only 3 have paid any real dividends for the team (Bay, Sanchez, and, after a scary start, LaRoche). Even with Sanchez, for too long a time, the Pirates had little to no idea what they had in him (surprise, this guy can really hit and field). Most of their other "deals" have amounted to a talent transfer to other clubs with little to no corresponding benefit. With some dumb luck the Pirates may, this time, get a GM who is clever and intuitive enough to steal a few good players away from other teams so that we can even the score a bit in this decade. Pirates' management has deflected blame for failure to the players, but the truth is, the losing started with management and has simply trickled down to the playing field. Call it trickle down failure. Pointing the finger at Littlefield is easy, but there are many in the Pirates organization, starting at the top, who should heed their own mantra to the players ??? if you want to keep your job/your team, prove it by your performance [After today we know at least one thing for sure, "They won't have Dave Littlefield to kick around anymore."]
-- Chuck Mineo, Wellington, Fla. (Ardent Supporter of all Underdogs Since 1993)
I could not agree more that Littlefield had to go!!
First good move: Kevin McClatchy is gone.
Second required move: fire Littlefield
Next: fire Tracy and his crew.
And please, get a catcher.
-- Gary E. Bishop, Grovetown, Ga. (native Pittsburgher & Mt. Lebanon, Pitt grad)
The state of baseball, and to a lesser degree the Pirates, have left me apathetic.
Dave Littlefield's legacy with the Pirates? Who cares? It's Football season now and when baseball season starts up again next April, we'll only be 5 months away from the start of another Football season.
Until the greedy owners and donkey players of MLB can come up with a solution to make the small market teams competitive, I'd just assume mow the grass rather than go to a game.
-- Matt Guskey, Harleysville, Pa.
The very first posted comment started out with what most everyone wants, namely, a fresh approach. Unfortunately it lapses into typical Pittsburgh thinking. It mentions 6 possible managing prospects.5 of the 6 either played for the Pirates or are from Pittsburgh. People PLEASE, growing up near or having played for your team has NOTHING to do with possible success. This "he's a local guy" mentally in selecting someone has no basis in reality. Look around at the successful teams in any sport. They hire the best candidate. Not someone because "he's a local guy"!!!
-- David Hunter, Pittsburgh
The Rajai Davis domino has fallen. Even if the new GM is smart enough to do other things--they'll still be saddled with Matt Morris' contract. Just like Littlefield was saddled with Derek Bell. The Pirates habit of over paying over the hill players is why they stink. The next logical step for them is signing Barry Bonds (wouldn't be a terribly bad idea from a business stand point). Meanwhile, great young former Pirates lead other organizations to the playoffs... -- Michael Guss, Hagerstown, Md.
I for one would like to stick up for Mister Littlefield. If every General Manager was judged only on their mistakes, there wouldn't be any left.
Everyone might want to criticize this regime for the Chris Young, Chris
Shelton, Kris Benson, etc. moves -- but I haven't heard anyone mention what great moves he made in bringing in Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Freddy Sanchez and a rejuvenated Adam LaRoche.
It's tough to operate in an environment with such tight purse strings, no Latin American scouting, and a minimal amount of bonus money to sign draft picks.
It's a shame to see him go and I'll miss his honest call-in radio show. I wish him well and am positive that he will find a similar position somewhere else, with greater results.
-- Dra Anderson, Avon Lake, Ohio
I have been a Pirate fan all my life. When I first became aware of the Pirates they weren't very good. I lived with my Grandfather and we would listen to Rosy Rosewell broadcast the games. The away games were made up broadcasts, with the ticker tape going in the back ground and the sound effects added as he went along. Aunt Minnie never did make it upstairs to raise the window for all those Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg home runs. A lot of the Pirate players had larceny in their hearts, but lead in their feet when they tried to steal a base or take an extra base on a hit. The thing is today we have modern communications and I live in Hawaii but I still listen to the Pirate broadcasts on MLB.com. (If they start winning, I plan on going to MLBTV.com) I still feel disappointment when one of the players strikes out or hits into a double play at a critical time in the game. Now the General Manager has been fired again. He may have done an exceptional job provided what resources he was given to get the job done. Or he may have done a poor job and he didn't use the resources he was provided. We fans out here will never know what really went on behind closed doors. Did the GM ask for more than was forthcoming from Ownership? Did he say give me more money and I can get a winner. Or was he provided sufficient funds and misspent that money.
The GM is gone, Hale to the GM!
-- Herbert L. Swanhart, Waipahu, Hawaii
My reaction is as follows:
Like Neil Armstrong said: "One small step for me, one big step for human kind." I say: "One small step for Mr. Nutting, please don't hire another one like him..., so you can make it a big step for Pirates kind."
Great first step, but we frustrated Pirates fans should not get our hopes too high yet. For now, I will say it's a step in the right direction, finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-- Francisco J. Roman, Helena, Montana
The decision to let Littlefield was proper and inevitable if this organization was to improve. But I believe a good portion of the blame for Littlefield's poor tenure has to fall on Kevin McClatchy's shoulders.
Littlefield, after making poor organizational decisions; not investing resources in Latin America, investing scarce funds in washed up or marginal players, Joe Randa, Jeremy Burnitz, Matt Morris, Tony Armas and making consistently very poor evaluations of young talent (too many to mention), apparently was never counseled by McClatchy and never given specific parameters as how to do his job correctly in order to guide this organization in the correct direction. If Littlefield had been given some type of direction, parameters in which to work (aside from money), or counseling from his employer and maybe more appropriately a reprimand, the consistently poor decisions that have lead up to a 15th season of losing baseball and an organization bereft of stellar talent in the minor league, even though the Pirates have had high draft picks, wouldn't have occurred.
Littlefield surely deserves a ton of blame. His numerous and mind boggling gaffes have been well document. But he was allowed to continue to commit them far too long. In any other business he would have been dismissed a considerably long time ago. Now that McClatchy is no longer around to foster Littlefield's actions it was only a matter of time before a change was made in order to set the proper course for this organization that has been rudderless for far too long.
-- Kirk Davis, Brushton
IT'S ABOUT TIME! It's now time to go out and spend some money on quality players. Hire a proven general manager ,and playoff experienced manager .Phil Garner maybe?
-- Kevin Fawcett, Glenshaw
I applaud Bob Nutting for his decision to oust Littlefield now (it would have been better earlier in the year) as it permits the new head of baseball operations to hire "his" GM and not be stuck with Littlefield.
Pirate fans need to undestand that Nutting's thumbprint will now be on all future baseball moves.
Let's quit looking backward and look forward -- a new president, a new GM and, hopefully, a new manager,
I'm tired of the wailing about the budget, there was money to be spent and Littlefield seemed to always spend it badly. I wouldn't have given Littlefield more to spend given his lack of know-how regarding talent assessment.
As the Aussies say "Good on ya, Bob"! Good luck with the hiring decisions you're making.
-- Pat Rossi, Penn Hills
Winning 442 games out of a possible 1023, leads to a percentage less than 45%, no winning seasons and an inability to make a decent trade or select free agents, I am pleased he was released and hope the new CEO selects a true baseball person that can make sound, winning decisions.-- Corri F.DiBagno, Sewell, N.J. (formerly Jeannette)
The way things are done with the Pirate ownership, we'll probably see Littlefield get a job with a club that allows him to spend money on a real MLB budget and then take that team to the World Series. Perhaps he'll get together with Jim Leyland and have a good laugh.
-- J.L. Duff, Twin Falls, Idaho
I'm beginning to like Bob Nutting. He does not seem comfortable with mediocrity, as McClatchey apparently was. Littlefield gave me a bad feeling very early on, when he fired Mickey White. Thank God he's finally gone.
-- John Carter, Chestertown Md.
its about time its time to clean house coaches managers front office maybe someday 500 and to that yankee fan do they play any football in ny the jets and the giants are about useless as they come
-- Donald Romanio, Columbia, S.C.
The problem with Littlefield seemed to be that he had no clear plan to make the team successful. Tampa Bay had the same problem until new ownership and management formulated a clear direction and is in process of implementing it. I truly believe that direction will result in a winner in another two years. As a former Pirate season ticket holder lets hope this is the start of a new thoughtful direction for the Pirate organization.
-- Bob Innocenti, Safety Harbor, Fla.
As a 50-year Pirates fan, whose idol is still Elroy Face, the greatest carpenter since Jesus Christ, and who keep praying to both that the Pirates will snap out of it in my lifetime, this is great news. Acquiring Cesar Izturis and Matt Morris, while getting rid of Rajai Davis and ineptly trying to shop the great Jack Wilson for peanuts is enough evidence in itself. After Adam Laroche and Wilson snapped out of their slumps I had hopes that this team would finish at least a .500, especially after the pre-All Star break winning streak, then came the 2-16 train wreck after the break. Had we found a way to win half those 16 games, look where would be be, in the thick of it in the Central Division. I think Tracy has made some very bad moves as well and I would have fired him after the 2-16 (can it get any worse?) downward spiral.
-- Gerry Dawes, Suffern, N.Y.
On one hand, Dave Littlefield is gone, but on the other hand they're still rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Until the Nuttings have a financial commitment to winning, nothing will change and no decent baseball people will want to work for them. Talk is cheap and Bob Nutting is all talk.
It is impossible to run a small-market team that both wins and is profitable. You've got to pick one or the other.
It isn't just signing free agents, developing a good farm system costs a lot of money too and they passed on the best hitter in the draft because they didn't want to pay.
-- Jon O'Data, Rochester, Pa.
Whoa! Sounds like Gerry Mahoney from New York is still upset over the Mazeroski homer. He'd better pay more attention to his own team to make sure they don't squander their $200M payroll for another year.
-- Tim Krason, Jackson, Miss.
Littlefield should be remembered as a GM who undermined the PBC's long-term success at nearly every opportunity. He ran the team with no imagination or ingenuity, and with no money, the outcome was depressingly predictable.
Future generations of Pirate fans will wonder how this man stayed on the job for more than six years. By luck he was hired by one of the game's all-time incompetent owners, but by his own merits he was a world-class talker with impeccable public relations skills.
-- Ted Klimek, Point Breeze
Hope springs eternal down here in Bradenton every February and March. Then the season opens and soon the hopes are dashed. The teams compiled by Dave Littlefield made no sense. I have a couple of bald spots from scratching my head over some of the trades we've witnessed these past few years. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!!! Would someone please give Pirate fans a winner? Thanks! I want to be just as happy in October as I am in February!
-- Jon Jankovich in Bradenton, Fla. (formerly Coraopolis)
I was excited to hear of the long overdue announcement of the Pirates to relieve Dave Littlefield of his duties. I can't think of too many great or good decisions that he has made during his tenure...only that our players traded away, always seem to mature a year later at their new teams and do wonderful things.
Rather than harping on the past....what I think the Pirates need is a young general manager, that KNOWS baseball, has played the game, scouted talent and managed as well. There is a great young talent that is rising in the Toronto Blue Jays organization by the name of Richard (Dick) Scott and I believe he is about 45 years old and does nothing but lives and breathes baseball. He started his career out of High School with the Yankee organization and played with them a few years, before being traded to the Oakland As. Playing in a min number of games he got a World Series Ring with the As. He then went into the "behind the scenes" of the game and went to the Arizonia Diamondbacks, where he was lead scout for them and again, that year, won a World Series....he was then asked to come on board with the Toronto Blue Jays and is now overseeing ALL player development for the A, AA and AAA teams. He knows the game and the business VERY well. A young person with a lot of drive and compassion for a winning team is what is needed in Pittsburgh. Lets go get a great individual such as this for our new GM and put the pirates back on the winning track!
-- Gary B. McLaughlin, 11 year season ticket holder, Coraopolis
I think this personnel change was long overdue. Jim Tracy and his staff need to go as well. If you're going to clean house, don't just do one room. As a lifelong Pirates fan, I crave for a winner. The last time I saw that was as a 16-year old watching Sid slide. People criticize George Steinbrenner for how he runs the Yankees, but it's hard for me to argue with him. The guy demands the best from his players and hires the best personnel, which leads to championships. I sincerely hope that Mr. Nutting will pursue the best in terms of a CEO and manager. I hope a field manager is hired who demands top performance from his players and won't take any garbage from malcontents (a la Jim Leyland). Here's hoping this is the first step to building a winning Pirates team. I have no doubt Mr. Littlefield is a good guy in personal terms, and I hope he finds a position suitable for him.
-- Andrew Barclay, Zelienople
What a classless move from a lame duck organization. Fire the GM when it will be buried on a back page behind the start of Steeler season and Pens camp opening.
This was totally calculated by Nutting. Sell the team or I will never go again to a game.
-- Loren Martello, Pittsburgh
I agree that it was time for Littlefield to go, but I think some of the criticism of him is unfair. For the first few years after he traded for Josh Fogg and Kip Wells, that looked like a pretty good trade. And I still think the Brian Giles trade was a good one, despite Bay's subpar year and the disappointment of Oliver Perez. I was baffled by the Aramis Ramirez trade when it was made, but it was pretty clear after the fact that Littlefield was told by Nutting to dump Ramirez's salary. I would be happier to see a new owner and a new manager than a new GM.
-- Chuck Lawton, Whitehall
Where to start. Dave Littlefield made many many poor baseball decisions. That will easily give the Pirates the sought after record of consecutive losing seasons. When he was hired he said all the right things. Made a couple of good trades. But really had no clue when it came to the draft and the signing of Free Agents.
The draft which has to be solid for small market teams, was full of reaches and the passing of better prospects because of who their agent was and how much it might cost to sign them.
Bullington taken first overall in 2002, yet projected as a #3 starter passing on BJ Upton.
2003 draft was very good with Maholm and Gorzelanny both looking to be solid MLB pitchers.
Neil Walker was selected in 2004 and has since switched positions. He is our #2 prospect, yet players such as Stephen Drew, Phil Hughes, and Jered Weaver were available and all our in the big leagues.
2005 he selected Andrew McCutchen the jury is still out. Hopefully next year he will be in CF.
2006 Brad Lincoln another pitcher with arm problems Kid rocket Tim Lincecum was selected 6 picks later.
2007 has to be the worst. Enough said. Everyone knows how this went down. Money was the issue.
Yet he took on the entire contract of a has been pitcher, Matt Morris. Traded one of our few speed guys. He wasn't in our future, but superstar CF's Mclouth and Duffy were?
Good Luck Dave. You won't be missed. Hold the door for Tracy. Hopefully he is only 30 days behind you.
-- Jim Steffish, Windber, Pa.
What difference is it really going to make on the field? But I guess to turn around this franchise that is the best first step. When you get psyched about finishing 37-35 over that last half of 2006, it just shows how low the expectations are for this team. I love my Bucs, but I am so glad STEELERS season is here!!!!
-- SSgt Scott Getty, San Antonio, Texas
Needless to say, it was long overdue... and years ago. If the Nuttings don't do it, then the city ought to give the bums rush to the rest of these hopeless losers. It's more than embarrassing that while playing in the Comedy Central Division... where a more .500 record could capture a division title... that the Pirates still find themselves so far out of competition. The whole experience of the past 15 seasons has been one example after another of trying to play major league ball on a minor league payroll.-- Vic Warzinski, Woodbridge, Va.
I certainly can't say I'm sad that Littlefield is gone, but he is by no means the complete problem here. While he made a couple of really good moves (Bay and Nady), most of his decisions have greatly harmed the chances of making the Pirates once more into a winning franchise. My biggest hope now is that Littlefield's firing is not the final change Nutting is going to make. New scouts should be a priority, and Graham should be fired as well. The current coaching staff leaves much to be desired, and I would guess most fans don't have much confidence in them.
I love this team, we do have some really good players, and here's to hoping the near future is going to bring a World Series championship back to Pittsburgh!
-- Lee Razaele, Robinson
Gone are the explanations that were getting so tiresome, they were beginning to sound like listening to the teacher from the comic strip "Peanuts". We Pirates fans have heard everything from the "5 year plan" to "the end of last season is a positive step to a winning season in 2007". Frankly I believe Pirate fans are tired of pep talks, promises, and basically... words. Actions are all we can really stand at this time. Those actions hopefully have began today. I was disheartened to read of the gentleman who diverted over to the Red Sox, 99% of us Pirate fans do not have it in our heart to devote ourselves to another team. Thus making us the most loyal fans in all of baseball (to include even Yankee fans). It is easy to be a "die hard" when your team is constantly in contention, try 15 straight years of empty promises. I will stand by this team to the bitter end, my hope would be that Mr. Nutting will utilize this loyalty for the good of the team rather than the bulk of his pockets. Maybe with the departure of Mr. Littlefield, we can return to playing the best players that we have. Nate McLouth was beginning to show that he has emerged as dependable starter and possible star. He was rewarded with a return to the bench. Our most loyal player in Jack Wilson has had to deal with trade rumours most of the season. One quality the Buccos should look for in new management is professionalism, a key trait to getting this ship turned around.
-- Larry Schnepp Bowie, Md. (Formally of the North Side)
In my humble opinion, the firing of Dave Littlefield was about five years overdue. I am encouraged by some of the recent moves taken by Bob Nutting, but this is the most encouraging of them all. The fact that Littlefield was confident that he would return next year underscores how out of touch he is with the Pittsburgh Baseball Club's fans and the team's record during his disastrous seven-year tenure. Virtually all of his moves, save perhaps two, were abysmal and were the real reasons that this organization is still in such a hole after seven years of his "leadership." Blame ownership all you will, but when the general manager wastes money on veterans, mismanages personnel in roster moves and cuts, and cannot develop a strong minor league system -- after seven years on the job -- you have the ugly face of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball.
-- Brad Bender, Philadelphia
This is way overdue, but It looks to me that Nutting is taking the right steps to bringing the Pirates back to respectability. As long as he opens up the wallet and gets someone who cares about the Pirates and Pittsburgh. I actually see a little light at the end of this miserable tunnel that has been this organization. GO BUCS!
-- Gregory T. Philson, Hermitage, Pa.
As a long time Pirate sufferer, this was over due. I base this on various things. The organization's minor leagues are not loaded with many highly touted prospects. Not selecting the best available player in this year's draft was a travesty. The free agent signings during his tenure have the other organizations scratching their heads, if not laughing. Littlefield's ability to make trades or make the proper trade was less than adequate. I hope the Pirate organization really does do it due diligence this time to turn this organization into a winner once more, and of course this means spending money.
-- Victor Farkas , Oxford, Pa.
Now that Littlefield's gone, perhaps it's time for Jim Tracy to follow. Is Phil Garner available?
-- J. Logue, Clarksburg W.Va.
It is difficult to understand how anyone could continue to lose, year after year and not resign. It should have been obvious after 2 years he either didn't have the ability access the talent, or the authority to sign exceptional talent.
-- John W Weidenhof, Lewes Del.
This is just one of, what I consider, an extensive list of changes the Pirates need. You can start with the ownership (group?) and follow the chain.
The managerial and coaching staff can be blamed for what happens on the field. The GM can be blamed for not getting quality players. The Owners can be blamed for not providing monetary guidance. I always marvel at those individuals listed as "pitching coaches." Does anybody really know where they gained their knowledge of pitching? Same goes for hitting coaches. Unless they had a lifetime BA over .300 and amassed over 3,000 hits what makes them an "expert?" Maybe the organization should promote from within: Joh Weiner as hitting coach Bob Walk as everything else.
To listen to them talk they know everything there is to know about baseball. Cut out all of the bobble-head games; cut out all of the giveaway games (I mean merchandise); only have fireworks at holidays; and, what is the need for "music" spectaculars? Field a quality team and fans will be there for their Pirate team.
--Ed Rothermund, Washington, Pa.
Let's give Littlefield a little credit for trades to acquire Sanchez,Bay, Nady, and Laroche essentially for Giles, Gonzalez, Hernandez, and Suppan. Picking up Phelps for nothing wasn't bad either. Nevertheless, the team still stinks...perhaps it's the on-the-field coaching ...
-- Greg White, Angola, IN
This will be the first of a cleansing of the organization that is long overdue. Is the Pirates failure all his fault? No. He may not have had all the tools available to make the trades for quality personnel However, some of the trades that have been made the last six years have been horrendous. Even with a lack of money to play with, spending it on the minor league system would have been a much better play.
I can only hope that next year we can get over the hump and not tie the Phillies for a 16th consecutive year of losing.
A Pirate Fan Forever,
-- Matt Wilson, Peters Twp.
Don't stop there, this needs to be a complete clean house, Tracy,Brian Graham and every scout needs a pink slip as well.
-- Mario Lopez, Charlotte, N.C.
Can someone please call Chuck Greenberg before he takes the Cleveland GM job!!!
-- Larry Roberts, Pittsburgh
Here's a plan for the next GM....there are good baseball players in the Dominican Republic, it might be a good idea to have a presence there. And one more thing, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier years ago, it's OK to have a few African-American players on the team.
-- Mathew E. Watt, Los Angeles
Littlefield getting fired is both HUGE and SWEET! Personally, I would love to see the Pirates bring in a "Moneyball" kind of guy. If we can't compete financially with the big markets, and whatever system we are using now doesn't seem to be working, then why not try something different? It certainly seems to have worked for Billy Beane. In fact, the guy that I would hire to run the Pirates as GM would be David Forst.
David Forst is in his seventh season with the Athletics and his third as assistant general manager. He was appointed to his current position in February of 2004 after serving as an assistant to the general manager and coordinator of professional scouting. His primary duties include assisting Billy Beane in all player acquisitions, contract negotiations and player evaluations. The 29-year old Forst graduated Cum Laude from Harvard University in 1998 with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology. He played baseball for the Crimson for four seasons and earned third team All-America honors as a senior in 1998.
As for manager, I would hope that the list of candidates would include Joe Girardi, Art Howe, Ken Macha, Phil Garner, Andy Van Slyke, and Jay Bell.
-- Benjamin Raible, North Huntingdon
I'll best remember Littlefield for taking Bullington over BJ Upton first overall in the draft and projecting him as a good number 3 starter. This year's draft was also an insult to loyal Pirate fans like myself. This is long overdue and Jim Tracy should get his bags packed also.
-- Brian Zelmore, Mt. Pleasant
I always got the impression that Kevin McClatchy hired Lloyd MacClendon and David Littlefield, not so much because of their upside and potential but because their price tag was much lower than more experienced individuals.
If Bob Nutting wants to improve the Pirates, he will, as Michael Keaton said, "have to write a check" to bring in personnel the caliber of a John Schuerholz or a Walt Jocketty. Then, Nutting will have to continue to keep the checkbook open to be competitive in the Major Leagues.
-- Donn Frizzi, Peoria, Ill.
Who cares? The Pirates have always stunk and always will. They could get Abner Doubleday himself and would still lose 100 games again, like they always. do. I have an idea. How about Major League Baseball takes this franchise over and move it to a real city or contract it. That way, the Pirates won't be able to ruin the game anymore. GO YANKEES.
-- Gerry Mahoney, New York, N.Y.
Now fire the owner, have Mark Cuban by the team and take it to the next level where it should have been years ago....
-- Mark Fern
WAY overdue. Littlefield's trades and personnel decisions almost always defied logic. The most recent acquisitions if Cesar Izturis and Matt Morris only added to the list of horrible decisions he has made since taking over. One would only hope the next GM will actually have some baseball sense -- but that is what I said after we got rid of Cam Bonifay.
-- Charles Dinovitz, Green Tree
its about time. he did nothing improve this team .all he did was make promises year after year . now we mite get a real GM in here and make a good team for we all want them to win .
-- Patrick Ponzetti, Jeannette
In his defense, he wasn't given a the capital to bring in top line free agents, and he balked at trading for Ryan Howard a few years back, but he did give away a franchise third basement, and has Matt Morris done anything yet for this team?
-- Craig Leach, Woodstock, Ga.
While I agree that this move is long overdue will it really make a difference if the Nuttings continue to refuse to spend the money it takes to field a winning team. The city of Pittsburgh is begging for a winner on the field. The Pirates could make the Nutting family a great deal of money if they would just invest into them (look at the Pens and how the city stood behind them, now you can't find tickets). Hopefully this is the first sign that ownership is listening to the fans and people of Pittsburgh. As a resident of Florida (surrounded by Braves fans) I get teased all the time about the Pirates. They all ask me why I would want to support a perrenial loser, my answer to them is that I like most Pirate fans just want to see a glimmer of hope. Hopefully this is a step in that direction.
-- Patrick Treese, Gainesville, Fla. (Formerly of Indiana, PA)
The firing of Mr. Littlefield, in my opinion, is five years overdue. After Mr. Nutting finishes cleaning house, it would be nice to have a much needed larger payroll to be competitive (again). Pirate fans can only hope Mr. Nutting can restore the Pittsburgh pride that has been long gone in the Pirate organization and become a winning team ... something this generation has never seen.
-- Don Mamula, Fairfield, Pa.
Besides hosting the All-Star game last year, this is the only winning move the Pirates have made in quite awhile. Maybe we can trade him to Chicago to get Ramirez back!
-- Jeff Meader, Cranberry
Should have happened after he traded Chris Young for Matt Herges, and then cut Herges in spring training while we get to watch Young go to the All Star game asone of the NL's most dominant starting pitchers. Oh, and when he turned down HR champ Ryan Howard to keep Kris Benson, probably should have been let go then too. Maybe even when he gave up Jason Schmidt for Ryan Vogelsong and Armando Rios. Or Aramis Ramirez for Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez. Or...
-- Joe Roza, Columbus, Ohio
Brilliant! But that's not saying much, as the main snake-oil salesman is still there and it not surprisingly took him this long to realize that Littlefield (whom Nutting hired) was a horrendous mistake in the first place. If he would have fired him last year, we could have saved the team from the awful Morris signing and most possibly picked up Wieters as well.
I think this is simply a way to appease fans at the end of yet another losing season with another too little, too late gesture aimed at making them feel hopeful about the future. In the end, this firing will most likely change nothing on the field. Once again it's about selling tickets...Nutting more, Nutting less.
-- Steve Beall, Mantua, N.J.
We are still early enough in the school year that Dave Littlefield might be able to enter and REALLY learn how to judge baseball talent. What a disastrous overall reign. Perhaps Jim Tracy could attend this same school and learn when to remove a starting pitcher. We received something from Nutting ... that is, a chance for a new GM.
-- Rich Critchfield, Somerset, Pa.
Wow!!! It's about time. One blunder after another for 6 years is enough. He has had more than enough time to prove his worth and he most certainly didn't. Good riddance to him, Jim Tracey, Jim Colborn and the entire scouting staff.
I suspect Bob Nutting knew last month that Littlefield was on borrowed time. Given this fact, why would he sign-off on the Matt Morris trade (including the $10 million contract) thus hamstringing the new GM?
-- Greg Francken
Are the Pirates still playing?
The Steelers open up on Sunday, Pens in about a month. WHO CARES ABOUT THE PIRATES! Under the current ownership thay will never have a winning record..BANK ON IT!
-- Mike Johnson, Dormont
This is long overdue but will do nothing to benefit the team. They need to start from scratch and bring in new blood for all their coaching positions as well. It is obvious they do not develop players from the minors to the majors. The small market stuff does not cut as an excuse any longer. Look at Cleveland, Look at Minnesota, Look at Oakland. Develop from minors and bring up and good things can happen. It would of course would help if Mr. Nutting would actually spend some money to retain the good ones and get a few free agents but we all know that will not happen. As much as I would love to see the Pirates succeed I never see it happening. That is the reason I have switched my allegiance to what was my second favorite team, the Red Sox. I have actually seen more games at Fenway in the past three years than here. Show me you care about putting up a winning team and I will again care for the team. Fifteen years of futility
-- Scott Cecil, Canonsburg
Simply put, it was a move that had to be made. The Pirate's organization needs a complete facelift, or at least as much of one that you can do without changing ownership. They need to change how they are perceived other baseball organizations, fans and media and the only way they can do that is new blood, new strategies and a new direction. If they stay with Jim Tracy that will be a mistake. Make a full commitment to this change, no half measures.
-- Craig L. Hughes, Mt. Lebanon
Brian Graham takes over? You mean the Pirates have actually had player development?
-- Jerry Grefenstette, Pittsburgh
Can only speak for myself, but this sends a signal to Pirate fans that Mr Nutting will not accept status quo as has been the case. By firing Littlefield now he is showing Pirate fans that he is very serious about stopping the losing that we have seemingly forever endured. Since Tracy was a personal friend and hire of Littlefield, I expect his tenure will end soon due to the 2nd half collapse. The grass may always be greener, but I think the Pirate fans are sick of all the crabgrass we have been forced to watch grow..
-- Dr. William Gessler, Trenton, N.J.
As Pirates' fans learned with the firing of Cam Bonifay and Lloyd McClendon, who they hire to replace David Littlefeld is just as important as getting rid of those who proved they can't do the job. Hiring another good old boy who knows all the old timers' cliches and nothing about building a successful team in the monder age with limited resources will leave us right where we are today. One man stands out above the rest when it comes to having the experience the Pirates need to effectively deal with their circumstances: Paul Depodesta. I'm sure Jim Tracy would hate that and enable the Pirates to correct their second biggest error by hiring the manger they should have when they had the chance: Ken Macha.
-- Paul S. Galvanek, Shaler
The move makes sense because the new CEO will be able to put in who he wants as GM. I think he will be remembered as a guy who made some bad decisions, but at the end of the day what are you going to do when players do not want to play in Pittsburgh. Somehow the Pirates need to make this a team that players want to play for. Right know their identity is a losing ball club that can't get out of their own way.
-- Tony, Pittsburgh
While Littlefield's firing was overdue and much needed (bringing in Matt Morris with his entire salary along with allowing Matt Wieters to be passed up being the most recent examples), most forget that he was the one who brought two young quality players (one a perennial All-Star) to Pittsburgh in Jason Bay and Oliver Perez in exchange for Brian Giles, whose best years were behind him. At the time, most Pirates fans were outraged -- including myself -- as Giles was our only true star. We've since been able to flip Ollie for Xavier Nady, one of our most consistent players this year.
Littlefield at that time was able to get another team to do what others have accused him of -- giving up too much out of sheer desperation. The Padres, desperate to make a splash for their new park, overpaid to obtain a past superstar.
His bad moves far outweighed the good ones -- no doubt it was time for him to move on. But that trade was one of the better ones in all of baseball over the past five years.
-- Anson Whaley, Pittsburgh
Now, Nutting needs to finish cleaning house by firing the inept Tracy regime.
-- Michael M. Bierce, Brighton Heights
Finally!!!! This day has been long overdueI believe his fate should have been sealed for giving away Aramis Ramirez for Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez!!!! He may have made a few good deals in the past few years, Giles for Bay and what would become Nady ... also Mackowiak for Marte and Gonzo for LaRoche ... but it's the botched deals and useless stopgap signings such as Burnitz, Randa, Sanders, Lofton, Armas, etc instead of developing through the minors that has the pirates battling to stay out of last place each year. At least for his sake he won't be around this offseason to be blamed for when Jack Wilson gets traded.-- Michael King, Worthington, Ohio
I do not understand this move at all. All this guy did was make the team money. By firing him they still have to pay him for next year, plus they will have to pay a new GM next year who won't be allowed to spend money. Nutting just cost himself money.
-- Michael Goldberg , Annapolis, Md.
Above all things, a GM has to offer a clear vision for the future. To listen to Littlefield as of late, he believes that a vision is in place. However, no one else has any idea as to what that vision is. The current players are currently not aware of the vision. The proof of that is clearly shown when they question personnel moves. No one knows where this ship is going.
This is plainly evident in the Pirates daily lineups, which yes, can be traced back to the GM. Just when Nate McClouth starts to show life, a rookie from AAA is given a look. It's a player du jour, and it kills the core players, the core fans, and ultimately, the team. Whether fair or not, Tracy is next. He is now forever anchored to a sinking ship. You don't try to salvage the Titanic; you let it rest in peace. Build a new ship please.
-- Michael J. Bair, Hagerstown, Md.
Who is going to fire Nutting!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!! And great move to replace him with the director of player Development, his track record is worse than Littlefield. If there was a plan in place the response would be "Its about time". Since there is absolutely no plan my response is "What is the next mistep for an unguided franchise that has yet to make a solid decision in 15 years?" To answer this you have to ask yourself what is the last thing in the world that a struggling franchise should do...and you have your answer. Until they have a plan this could continue for 15 more years. Nice job BOB...NOW WHAT??? The unfortunate part is that as long as he has a director of Fireworks and Bobble heads they will be A OK because people will keep showing up to see them.
Proud Pirate Fan
-- Mike Ermlich, Pittsburgh
This was a great move that has been long overdue. The only thing that Littlefield will be remembered for, is that he did a terrible job. It is time for the Pirates to start spending some of their money to get quality players and give the taxpayers, that paid for PNC Park, what they deserve.
-- Michael Palamarchuck II, Pittsburgh
Nutting needs to continue to extract all the poison that is Pirate management. Every person not using a baseball glove in the organization is responsible for this disaster.
-- Dave Meglen, Yardley
Finally!!!!!!! Great decision by Nutting to show potential CEO candidates that he is serious about changing things in Pittsburgh. Littlefield was a horrible talent evaluator and that was his biggest shortcoming. I hope the Pirates revamp their whole scouting operation and bring in people who know how to evaluate and acquire top tier talent. I've been close to giving up on the Pirates but now I will hold out hope a little longer.
-- Paul Neuhaus, Santa Clara, Ca.
What will be remembered of the Littlefield era? Hopefully, absolutely nothing. This is the most poorly managed franchise in professional sports. The way the pirates have been managed is criminal. There has been no attempt to field a competitive team since the early '90's. a class action law suite should be filed against the organization on behalf of the city, the season ticket holders and anyone who has purchased a ticket to see a Pittsburgh Pirate game. The organization is a fraud and has grossly mismanaged any resources made available to them. The have stolen from the league by accepting the subsidies of team's that put a competitive product on the field and pay accordingly. Dave Littlefield may not have been the Captain of this ship of fools but certainly was a bonafied member. Let the mutiny begin ... walk the plank Dave !!!
-- peter fiehrer, chicago
Pinning the blame on anyone other than ownership is unfortunate.
Baseball is big business, but we the stockholders have very little say-so. Right now we have ownership who knows nothing about the game, or how to hire to right people. Until that changes, (Mark, are you there), the Pirates will just flounder.
-- Barry Steinberg, Memphis, Tenn.
Interesting how sweeping changes to the Pirates come when the Nuttings can no longer hide behind Kevin McClatchy as the public whipping boy.
-- Josh Mehl, Pittsburgh
Littlefield's firing is no doubt going to have little impact on this team, and the same goes for dead-man-walking manager Jim Tracy. Sure, both have made significant mistakes that will cripple the franchise for years; however, this move is akin to repainting the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Sure, it may look different to the public, but what really has changed? This franchise will continue to flounder and be a laughingstock until wholesale changes are made from the top on down.
The Pirates need to replace the entire scouting/talent evaluation staff to focus less on speed, defense, and tools in favor of players who demonstrate a command of the strike zone. Good hitters can develop power, power hitters rarely develop the ability to control the strike zone. Evaluation of pitching talent similarly needs a facelift. The prime failure of this team has been the complete and utter inability to analyze talent at all levels. The team needs an ownership group that is committed to pouring money into the team NOW (presumably into players who will have a quality impact as evaluated by the theoretical new staff). The current ownership group is content to reap profits; however, some investment in the team now at the expense of current profits would lead to an improved product on the field that would get more fans in seats and more fans buying Pirates merchandise. That is a way to make profits, increase market penetration, and actually have people care about the Pirates again.
When I became one of the thousands of Pittsburgh-area college students to move away, I left the Pirates, the team I grew up loving and once purchased season ticket to, behind. I have yet to see an ownership group that honestly cares about the fans and the product they put on the field. Littlefield's firing is nothing more than a facade--improvement will come from either a new ownership group or from a fresh commitment from the current group. No more, no less.
-- Zach Pozun, Austin, Texas (Formerly of Johnstown, Pa and Pitt '07)
I think Littlefield's firing will do nothing for the team until the ownership opens its wallet and makes a real financial commitment to winning. Littlefield had only pocket change to play with since Day 1.
-- Larry Zalewski, Mt. Lebanon
Oh happy day! Finally the Pirates may be heading in the right direction. Littlefield made a few good moves during his time, but it wasn't enough to save his job or the franchise. Bob Nutting is starting to impress me and show that he does indeed want a winning team on the field at PNC Park. I may cheer a little harder tomorrow when I attend the game against the Cubs.
-- Jeff Say, Culpeper, Va.
I think Dave Littefield had more than enough time to turn things around in Pittsburgh. He had failed to do so, so I think this is nothing more than a business decision that had to be made for the pirates to move forward. I personally thought this should have been done a few years back, and if it had been, maybe we would have a Pirates club that would at least have a record of .500. I don't think Jim Tracey has much to blame for a losing two season. The man can only field players that he has to work with. When you don't have much of an option, you really cant win.
-- Dante Russo , Greenville S.C.
I believe the move is long overdue. Although he can't be blamed entirely for the Pirates failures, his inability to consistently identify and develop major league level talent both in the farm system and free agent market falls solely on his shoulders. The owners lack of interest in spending any money on the team drastically handcuffed Littlefield, however he is not the only GM in the game who has had to deal with financial constraints like this. His decisions, while comical at times, make Cam Bonifay look like the greatest GM of all time. I'll be very surprised to see him re-surface in the league again, especially at the GM level.
I truly believe that the Pirates issues fall much deeper than the CEO or GM, they need to determine if they want to actually spend some money and compete, or just be an entertainment opiate for the masses, and the Nuttings can laugh all the way to the bank while ignoring the pleas of the fans to put a winning product on the field. Let's face it, in this current baseball economy, the only way to compete is to either spend money, or hire someone with at least a portion of baseball knowledge (previously lacking in management) who can successfully field a team fueled from the farm system. Until either of these happen, we'll continue to laugh at the draft choices and overall record of the team.
-- John Huber, Pittsburgh
This is about 4 years overdue!!
-- Joe Kearney, Sterling, Va.
THANK GOODNESS Something has been done. He traded away everyone for no one in return. Where is Bobby Hill that was to be so great for the Pirates ??? Mean while Ramirez continues to excel as the Cubs 3RD Baseman Oh yes and most recently the 10 million dollar Matt Morris for Rajaa Davis. Anyone check out Davis's numbers with the Giants. And we had no room for him on the roster. Laughable So Again Thanks Mr. Nutting for closing the door on this guy
-- Rich Koval
It's about time. He was a horrible evaluator of talent.
-- Mark Chalovich
Best news of the season hands down! I don't understand why they would let him blow millions on Morris, but at least Littlefield is gone. He will be remembered for running the Pirates like Bush does a country -- oblivious to the obvious.
-- David Yochum, Scott Twp.
It gives me hope that Bob Nutting is going to be the owner the Pirates need. Dave Littlefield's errors were so many he should have been let go after the Rule V fiasco. I think Dave did the best he could, but just wasn't up to the job. Instead of trying to think out of the box, he kept signing free agents on a serious downhill slide and hoping it would work out.
Other than Reggie Sanders, the others were failures at best, and retarded the development of younger players AND failures at worst. His legacy is being rooked in all trades except for Brian Giles, and the rule V fiasco.
-- John Lease, Clifton, Va.
First Published September 7, 2007 11:41 am