Pitcher - Kris Benson
Benson had a nice long career, but fell short of huge expectations. He was drafted number 1 overall in 1996. With the hype machine at full effect he was billed as a franchise savior and a can't miss guy. By the time he made his debut he showed good stuff, but was overall very mediocre. Injuries and inconsistency was the main theme the rest of his Pirates career.
You know you probably didn't live up to expectations when your bat shit crazy wife gains more press than your pitching.
Catcher - Tony Sanchez
This is probably more managements fault than Tony Sanchez, but he is probably the best pick for overall disappointment. Sanchez was picked 4th overall in 2009. Most media outlets considered the pick a reach and it looks like they were right.
First, injuries stunted his development then his defense went to shit. When Russell Martin got hurt at the beginning of last year Sanchez was getting a majority of the playing time. He began having trouble controlling the running game and making throws to first. The latter cost the Pirates a few games.
I'm guessing Sanchez will not see the field with the Pirates again. With a big rule 5 roster crunch coming next year it wouldn't be far fetched to see him left unprotected.
First Base - Adam LaRoche
When the Pirates acquired LaRoche in 2007 it received a lot of press. The Pirates looked on paper like a team on the upswing. The outfield was very balanced with the likes of Jason Bay and Nate Mclouth and the infield was anchored by Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez.
The interesting thing about LaRoche's tenure as a Pirate was that his numbers were pretty much on par with his career norms. The main issue is that he was a notoriously slow starter and would not start hitting until the Pirates were buried.
The funny thing now is that most Pirate fans would kill to have someone put up a LaRoche like season at first. Pedro Alvarez has really lowered our expectations from the position. Looking back I think his tenure was more of a product of a guy who never took the next step. The Pirates were in the midst of their historic losing streak and would gravitate to any guy who showed the slightest hint of talent. Such was the case for Adam LaRoche. He was pretty much the same player at the beginning and end of his time in Pittsburgh.
Second Base - Aki Iwamura
For the most part second base has been pretty secure by the likes Neil Walker and Freddy Sanchez in recent memory. Part of me wanted to pick Bobby Hill, but my disdain for Aki Iwamura is too fresh in my head.
Coming off 3 consecutive above average years the Pirates traded Jesse Chavez to the Rays for Iwamura. It was pretty much a disaster from day 1. He looked out of shape and disinterested. For some reason the Pirates continued to bat Iwamura leadoff the first couple months of the season. After it was all said and done, Iwamura wouldn't even make it a year. The Pirates were on the hook for almost 5 million.
Third Base - Andy Laroche
I could have taken this one in a number of different ways because the position personifies the Pirates terrible management during the 20 year losing streak. With the bad management decisions regarding the likes of Jose Bautista and Aramis Ramirez, either one could have easily made the list.
I chose Andy LaRoche because he was the center piece of the Jason Bay trade. It is also kind of funny to have the LaRoche brothers both make the list.
The writing was on the wall for the Pirates when the new management team came in. A complete rebuild was on the horizon. While the Pirates had been terrible for a long time they weren't without quality players. The most desirable target was Jason Bay.
When the deal was announced that Bay was traded to the Red Sox as part of the three way trade that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and prospects to Pittsburgh. The key piece for the Pirates being Andy LaRoche. Long story short, he was terrible. It was a tough trade to swallow for the Pirates as they received absolutely no value from the players acquired in the Bay deal.
Shortstop - Brian Bixler
This pick is more from a hobby perspective than on the field. Bixler was a second round pick in 2004 and was getting a lot of hype early in his professional career. He was dubbed an offensive shortstop and looked to be the logical replacement to Jack Wilson.
Before his debut I bought into the hype and loaded up on high end Bixler autos. Ouch! He could not hit to save his life.
Outfield- Chard Hermanson, Jose Guillen, Derek Bell and Jose Tabata
It is almost like someone took the battery out of Tabata. The first couple of seasons he was a leadoff hitter with gap power and plus speed. The Pirates liked him so much that he was given an extension. At the time it looked very team friendly, but now it is the worst contract on the team.
I'm not sure what caused the wheels come off, but the decline has been quick. An outfielder that is only a singles hitter is not in high demand. I hope Jose likes Indianapolis because that is where he'll be the life of the contract.
One of the cool things about our hobby is how card can conjure up random memories. I started this post last night after looking at a Brian Bixler card and thinking "boy this guy stunk." Sure enough a post was born.
Thanks for reading!