What did Littlefield ever do to earn your faith?
Maybe not so much as earn my faith. Let's just say I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a while for several reasons.
1. He was a disciple of Dave Dombrowski. DD, to me, is one of the better front office guys in the majors. He worked for Dombrowski from November of 1998 through the time he got hired by the Pirates, so he had at least a little bit of a hand in rebuilding that Marlins club into the team that eventually won the Series in 2003.
2. He inherited an absolute disaster of a major-league club. The team was handcuffed by a slew of awful deals handed out by Bonifay to the likes of Kevin Young, Pat Meares, Derek Bell, Kris Benson and Jason Kendall, among others. It was bound to take him at least two years to clean up that mess. The fact that he was able to move Kendall for any sort of living, breathing human being was a small miracle. I could be wrong on this, but I believe last year was the first season the club was finally out from under any obligation on all of those Bonifay deals.
3. The minor league system was a mess. Not as big a mess as the big club was, but it wasn't much better. I think DL gets a little bit of a bum rap here. DL detractors love to point out that it was not DL but Bonifay that drafted the likes of Duke, Snell, Burnett and Bautista (among others). That may be true, but those players developed under Littlefield. The minor league system isn't without its faults - almost every team from AA down has too many players who are considered too old for their respective levels. But most of the guys who HAVE developed and recently made it to the big club under Littlefield have formed the foundation for what COULD be a promising future.
4. I'll even give him the benefit of the doubt on the A-Ram deal. The deal was mandated by ownership and as we saw with the Jagr and Kovalev deals, when your trading partners KNOW you have to deal a player because you can't afford to keep him, there's NO WAY they're giving up anything of value. People say, "Well, he could've gotten more for Ramirez..." I doubt he could have. Chicago knew the score heading into those trade talks. People forget this, too...it wasn't supposed to be A-Ram heading out the door. It was supposed to be Benson.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pirates/200 ... 0728p4.asp
Benson's health problems derailed interest in him heading into the summer of 2003, and the club was forced to deal Ramirez - one of their other big-ticket players.
Littlefield has certainly made more than his share of personnel evaluation errors and we've heard about them all hundreds of times. No sense in rehashing them.
But this is why I originally gave him the benefit of the doubt and stressed patience with his regime. My patience is running out. It's QUICKLY getting to the point where he's going to make a major deal to shake this thing up and salvage his career with the Pirates.