John Perrotto talked to Jason Schmidt for the Beaver paper.
Schmidt makes my point exactly--the team is not that bad. Sure, the rotation has not been good. I don't think they should be a pennant contender.
But 30-60 is far too bad. There must be, under normal conditions, something like a 1% chance of a team with this much raw talent winning only 30 of the first 90 games.
It's suspicious. I reject the bad luck hypothesis. Something is very wrong with this organization.
The irony of Schmidt's comments is that, when Schmidt was a Pirate, I always suspected him of malingering and saving his body for his next club. Perhaps this is because I'd be inclined to do the same thing if I was a player on this team.
The underperformance has been too consistent to expect it to stop. What happens if Littlefield signs great players, makes great trades, and fields a team that, on paper, ought to win 90 games? With no other changes, I expect that team would win 80.
They fall into slumps, stop reading the standings every day, hate going to the ballpark, and sleepwalk their way through games, bemoaning their bad luck and resenting the fact that they can't speak candidly to the press. That's no way to compete.
The organization follows the example of the ownership. Until the owners come out and prove otherwise, all evidence points to them being chisellers with no great desire to win. They conceal their intentions behind a shifting cloud of PR fakery.