So there's little to no energy among the fans for expecting change in 2008. There's no enthusiasm and not much optimism.
Why is this? Changing management is a plus, I think everyone regards that as a good sign. The lack of free agent signings probably, in my opinion, has not much to do with it. Unless the Pirates acquire a top player, any free agent will be greeted with suspicion. We have a lot of experience with the bargain bin, and it has not been much good.
I think the reason the fans are so cold on the team is this. The Pirates are returning the same cast of characters. And the bloom is off the rose for these guys.
Running down the roster, mainly I see a collection of disappointments.
Adam LaRoche, for example, was one cause for optimism a year ago. But his 2007 was a total bust. He got it together and salvaged his stats in the second half, but that was too little, too late. You don't get much credit for being a decent player on a team with a horrible record.
Jason Bay was awful in 2007. If we once expected Bay to be good year after year, we got a rude shock in 2007. He could turn it around, but I don't think too many people expect a return to 2006 form.
Jack Wilson, some time ago, showed promise, but he too was a bust in 2007. He's an overpaid mediocrity. The Pirates can't even trade him. Like LaRoche, he came on strong at the end and salvaged his numbers. But again it's like closing the barn door after all the animals have left.
Zach Duke and Paul Maholm are now proven mediocrities.
Ronny Paulino was a ball-dropping slug.
Matt Morris pitched horribly.
Bullington, Burnett, and Van Benschoten continue to contribute nothing. They can't even do work in the bullpen.
Ryan Doumit can't stay healthy.
Freddy Sanchez appears to make no difference in the win column.
Jose Bautista improved but he does not look like he's about to break out and carry the team on his shoulders to 82 wins. It's hard to get excited about his upside.
Chris Duffy was an embarrassment, again.
There's not much in the way of good players on this roster. We had high hopes for some of these guys, and they did not deliver. In some cases, those high hopes may have been unreasonable. I'm not sure why I ever thought, for example, Jack Wilson could become a perennial All Star. But in other cases, those high hopes were reasonable. We may be gullible and generous, but we are not too stupid.
So while there may be good reason to be excited about Gorzelanny, Snell, Capps, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Romulo!, Kuwata, Dessens, and Chris Gomez, I'm not feeling it. And don't think too many other fans are.
The bottom line is this: these players cannot win ballgames. So why get excited?
Only the tyranny of habit has me keeping half an eye on this team right now.