Pirates: Failure = Reward
Earlier this week the Pirates promoted crosschecker Joe Delli Carri to Assistant Scouting Director.
I met up with Delli Carri years and years ago when I was running around with some of my scout friends down here in Florida and he was with the Mets. I wouldn’t say that I was overly impressed with him then and the Mets obviously felt the same way when he was canned with an entire staff of scouts who were labeled ‘inefficient’ recently. Let’s face it, he is no Vuckovich.. nor is he another Scott Littlefield.
As you may remember, Scott – Dave’s brother – was with the Pirates until 2003 when he moved on to the Padres. What a coincidence, as the Padres are now in the playoffs. Scott was a bit upset at not getting a plush job in the Pirates front office in 2002, so he moved on.
One thing Delli Carri does have is a lot of contacts in Florida. A ton. I don’t know about the rest of the country but I can tell you he knows baseball in Florida like nobody I had ever met. Tom Kotchman scouts in Florida for the Angels and he knows the programs down here pretty well but Delli Carri made him look like a beginner. But that was years ago.
Delli Carri moved on to regional crosschecking with the Mets and that was when their system took a considerable step backwards, some say. Obviously that could be nothing but a coincidence – and surely is – but it is true their system failed to produce for many years and they finally overhauled it in early 2005. Delli Carri came to the Pirates before the 2006 season.
Obviously Delli Carri didn’t have much influence in the Pirates 2006 draft because few players were selected out of his working region until later in the rounds. Lonnie Chisenhall in the 11th round, Brandon Holden in the 13th, and Mike Crotta in the 17th were the first three picks.
Chisenhall, of course, never signed, so that was a wasted round. Holden, a high school signee with a significant injury history, wasn’t signed until late August so he didn’t get to participate in the GCL. And Crotta, a changeup artist, got in 60 innings of relief work between Williamsport, where he looked pretty good, and Hickory, where he got mauled in the 17 innings he did pitch. But it is way too early to tell anything, of course.
Rating Delli Carri on his accomplishments by the Pirates 2006 draft would be overkill, obviously. But one thing I did notice is that almost 40% of those drafted and not signed by the Pirates came out of Delli Carri’s region. That’s a staggering number of signing failures, with the inability to get Chisenhall signed as his the biggest let down (not that anyone really expected him to get Chisenhall signed.. just that somebody in the org had to have stepped up and said they could get him signed or they most likely wouldn’t have wasted a round on him).
Delli Carri had ten years of service with the Mets before he was fired. That’s a long track record but yet, none of the other 28 MLB teams were willing to give him a contract after he was let go. After months of trying to get work, he finally settled on a lower paying position with the lowly Pirates. In his first year with the Buccos, 40% of all unsigned draft picks came from his region, when only 32% of the entire 2006 draft was drafted from his region.
Those are all red flags, of course. Big, waving, bright red flags.
This week, Dave Littlefield promoted Delli Carri to Assistant Scouting Director after one seemingly unproductive year with the Pirates. That’s quite a jump for a man none of the other teams were willing to take a chance with.
So why? Why did Littlefield promote Delli Carri so quickly?
Brian Graham is rumored to have a managing opportunity. Perhaps with the Marlins. There was also a distant rumor that he might move on to the front office with the Blue Jays.
Ed Creech, David Littlefield’s totally useless right-hand man, would likely be Graham’s replacement as Director of Player Development, leaving Delli Carri to take Creech’s position.
That’s a scary proposition. For one, Creech’s background doesn’t exactly spell success by any means. For another, Delli Carri would be in way over his head, but so was Creech when he was handed the job by Littlefield.
Delli Carri can’t do anything without Littlefield’s approval so the buck stops with Dave, as they say. But the buck has been stopping with Dave ever since he took Bullington over Upton and the owners seem to care less how poorly a job he does. In fact, Littlefield was given a contract extension this last year – a reward for his failures. Now Delli Carri was given a promotion after his failures.
Nothing will change in Pittsburgh until the player’s mentality changes, Tracy once said. That is true. But don’t expect the players to buy into a new game until those managing them change first. Leadership should be by example.. not dictatorship.
Where all this is heading with Delli Carri is anyone’s guess but I have to assume he is being fast tracked in the organization for a reason. The only reason could possibly be Creech’s job.
If the Pirates ownership wanted to have a scapegoat from the front office for the fans, Ed Creech would certainly be a good pick. But since the organization seems to reward failure with promotion, don’t look for that to happen anytime soon.
But it should..