Sunday, April 25, 2004

Littlefield, Pirates Lining Up Talent for Cubs 2004 Stretch Run

The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping many veterans and newcomers can build on their previous years stats in the upcoming season. The Pirates, who nearly clawed their way to a .500 record last year, return many key players.

“We’ve made a lot of quality acquisitions in the off-season,” said Pirate General Manager David Littlefield. “The re-acquisition of Randall Simon, and the acquisition of Raul Mondesi give us two quality, experienced bats in the lineup. Combine their hitting talent with the solid pitching staff we have assembled, and there are at least five or six quality stars whose salary we will be able to unload on the Cubs when they turn it up come playoff time.”

The Chicago Cubs acquisition of former Pirates Randall Simon, Kenny Lofton, and Aramis Ramirez last year was instrumental in the teams’ nearly successful World Series run. All three hitters had an outstanding post season. The highlight of the trio’s success occurred in an October 8 playoff game against the Marlins where Ramirez homered, Lofton had four singles, and Simon drove in two runs.

“It really is an ideal situation,” said Simon. “It is very great to come to Pittsburgh, play in 120 games that don’t matter, and then turn it out for the last forty plus games of the season for the Cubs. That way you don’t have to worry about straining yourself or getting worn out. You can play at about 60% for most of the season, and then be well rested to give 100% come playoff time.”

While Simon seems to be a lock to return to the Cubs, the Pirates are hoping others step up and have impressive first halves of the 2004 season. The Pirates are especially eager for their higher priced stars to catch fire so they can pawn off their lucrative contracts.

“We have a few high priced studs, who really need to step it up,” said Littlefield. “If Rick Reed, Kris Benson, and Jose Mesa have quality years, that’s over 17 million dollars we can dump on the Cubs. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. If the Cubs don’t take these guys, we’ll really be fucked.”

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