Sports Magazine

Battling Bucs : ATP Near and Far: Final Rosters

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
We have reached the end of the line it is now time for me to announce my picks for the All Time Pirates Near and Far teams. The selection process wasn't easy as quite a few good ball players missed the cuts and there were a few issues to handle. First let me remind everyone that I approached this as if I were assembling a team which means that the 25 players listed aren't necessarily the 25 best but rather the ones who I think best fit with the team. There was also the issue of pre-1900 players and what to do with them. The game back then was so different it makes it impossible to compare so I decided that to qualify a pre-1900 player had to be clearly ahead of the competition this standard resulted in 4 players making the team in all. Now without further ado below are my two teams.
1. Matty Alou, CF (L)
2. Orlando Merced, 1B (S)
3. Roberto Clemente, RF
4. Jason Bay, LF
5. Manny Sanguillen, C
6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B (L)
7. Rennie Stennett, 2B
8. Pop Smith, SS
Tony Pena, C
Frank Taveras, MI
Starling Marte, OF
Aramis Ramirez, 3B
Matt Stairs, 1B/OF (L)
Bert Blyleven
Francisco Cordova
Francisco Liriano (L)
Jose De Leon
Bob Steele (L)
Bull Pen
LR: Al McBean
P: Oliver Perez (L)
MR: Damaso Marte (L)
SU: Ramon Hernandez (L)
SU: Salomon Torres
CL: Jose Mesa
25th Man: Russell Martin
A few quick notes:
1) Pop Smith is the lone pre-1900 player to make the team and did so because of a lack of other option
2) Aramis Ramirez received a spot mainly as a platoon mate and defensive substitution for Alvarez
3) Matt Stairs earned the last bench spot to give the team a left handed pinch hitting option
4) Jose Mesa receives the closer spot because he has the most experience closing out games
5) Oliver Perez won the wildcard pitcher spot because of his flashes of brilliance. With the wildcard spot on both teams I went with ceiling more than actual results
6) Martin's selection as the 25th man may seem odd but my vision is Sanguillen and Pena splitting time behind the plate with Sanguillen picking up some 1B starts meaning there is a need for a 3rd catcher since both will be playing at the same time. Lastly I wanted an extra emergency option for the middle infield who could hit a bit and none of the available middle infielders fit that description so do to his conditioning Martin will also serve as the emergency 2B should two of Stennett, Smith and Taveras get hurt.
1. Jim Russell, CF (S)
2. Don Hoak, 3B
3. Honus Wagner, SS
4. Frank Thomas, LF
5. Sid Bream, 1B (L)
6. Bill Robinson, RF
7. Claude Ritchey, 2B (S)
8. Ed Ott, C (L)
Joe Sugden, C
Dick Groat, MI
Bill Hinchman, OF
Neil Walker, IF (S)
Adam Comorosky, OF
Bob Moose
Frank Killen (L)
John Smiley (L)
Ron Kline
Al Mamaux
Bull Pen
LR: Johnny Miljus
P: Rube Waddell (L)
MR: Bruce Dal Canton
SU: Bobby Shantz (L)
SU: Nellie King
CL: Stan Belinda
25th Man: Elmer "Mike" Smith (L/R)
A few quick notes:
1) Joe Sugden, Frank Killen and Elmer Smith are all pre-1900 players. Sugden was one of the few options at catcher whereas Killen and Smith were just definitively deserving.
2) The corner outfielders Frank Thomas and Bill Robinson will act as the respective backups of 3B and 1B.
3) Neil Walker earns a spot because I wanted a middle infield option with some offense on the bench
4) Adam Comorosky gets the last bench spot as the starting outfield is filled with players not exactly known for defense and he at least appears to have a decent defender giving the team a late inning defensive upgrade.
5) Ron Kline nearly ended up the long man but edged his way to a rotation spot do to the other top candidates all being pre-1900 guys
6) Rube Waddell played for the Pirates early in his career and was excellent but didn't pitch enough to crack the starting rotation. He went on to have a Hall of Fame career which combined with his great numbers gave him the upside position on the staff.
7) Like Mesa, Belinda won the closer position as he was really the only true candidate
8) Elmer Smith probably should have won at least a bench spot but I chose to make him the 25th man because of his ability as both an outfielder and a pitcher. Smith was a lefty as a hitter but a righty as a pitcher.
Now for the big question which group is the better team?
Going position by position:
C: Big win for the International team
1B: Close one but do to depth the PA team has a slight edge
2B: Another close one and though Stennett is probably the best of the bunch Ritchey isn't far behind and Walker inches the group narrowly ahead
3B: A platoon of Alvarez and Ramirez should be fairly effective but Hoak was a very good player and with Thomas backing him up there is going to be little dropoff so the PA squad gets another win
SS: With Wagner there can be no contest
OF: The outfield for the international squad is a very potent one and takes the position fairly easily.
Rotation: Tough call here and it really depends on how you want to treat Killen. He is arguably the best pitcher on either team but as a pre-1900 guy its tough to compare. I'll give the PA squad a slight edge.
Bullpen: The PA bullpen isn't bad but I like the mix of the international squad a bit better.
Overall: A very difficult nearly impossible call here as I see two rather evenly matched teams. The lineups are roughly equal, the rotations are close and so is the depth. In the end though its tough to pick against a team that has a player like Honus Wagner on it. The opposing team captain Clemente was a transcendent player but Wagner really was on a whole different level.
There you have it, are there any players you think are better fits and which team do you have as the better one?

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