2006 Pittsburgh Pirates
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2006 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page
Managed by Jim Tracy
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2006 Pittsburgh Pirates did not raise hopes much for fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The club had dealt the leading pitcher (in ERA and wins) of the 2005 season, Dave Williams, for local guy Sean Casey. Casey blocked power-hitting prospect Brad Eldred at first base. Dave Littlefield then signed washed-up Jeromy Burnitz to replace the more talented Craig Wilson in right field and washed-up Joe Randa to replace Freddy Sanchez, who had been about as productive and was improving as 2005 progressed. The hopes for the club rested on Jason Bay and the development of Jose Castillo, Ryan Doumit, Zach Duke and Paul Maholm, while they wished that Oliver Perez would return to his 2004 form and that Chris Duffy's fine 2005, though a fluke when compared with his minor league career, would repeat in 2006. Adjusting the mechanics of Duke, Maholm and Duffy led to major criticisms and Casey was injured early on, freeing up a spot for Wilson. An injury to Randa allowed Sanchez to emerge as one of the top contact hitters in the National League and Castillo did develop. The implosion of Duffy and the lack of any star starting pitcher sent the team into a tailspin and at one point, they lost 13 games in a row, the most by a Pirates club since 1890.
New manager Jim Tracy had been hailed by the local media as a savior despite coming off a horrible year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a much more talented and rich team. Tracy's refusal to take blame for defeats while taking the credit for winning and his repeated comments that the club was on the right track had alienated his one-time adorers in the media by the midpoint of the season. By July 4th, the Pirates had lost 25 one-run games, breaking a record previously held by the 1971 Houston Astros but they went 15-4 in one-run games in the second half, the best record in baseball, to prove that one-run games are decided more by luck than by anything else. At the trading deadline, they shipped away Craig Wilson, Casey, Perez, Kip Wells and Roberto Hernández. In return, they only got two non-prospect minor league middle relievers, Shawn Chacon and Xavier Nady. The Hernandez-and-Perez for Nady trade got mixed reviews, with some highly critical and others highly positive, while dealing an accomplished hitter like Wilson for a 7-ERA man like Chacon was considered horrible by most parties.
The club escaped last place by going 37-35 in the second half thanks to their luck in one-run games and finished with the 4th-worst record in baseball. They had shutouts in their final two games, with journeyman Marty McLeary and unheralded rookie Shane Youman each working 7 scoreless innings in a start. The highlight of the season was Sanchez's edging Miguel Cabrera for the batting title, which indicated the poor talent judgment by the Pirates in bringing in Randa to replace him prior to the season.
Awards and Honors