The 2000s will go down as no doubt the worst 10-year span in the history of Pittsburgh Pirates. It was a decade that brought no winning seasons, countless headaches and cries of mercy from fans.
You had flashes of brilliance every once in a while, but for most of the last decade, Bucco fans could hardly bear to watch.
Here are the best players at each position that donned black and gold in the brand new, breathtaking PNC Park during the Pirates campaigns spanning from 2000-2010.
I've never seen anyone choke up on the bat quite like Jason Kendall.
The rock-solid catcher played nine seasons in Pittsburgh, four of them coming in the new millennium.
A true iron-man at his position, Kendall largely avoided injury and never played less than 78 games in a season.
An All-Star Game appearance in 2000 makes Kendall an easy pick as the Pirates best catcher of the 2000s.
The Pirates have since been yet to come across a catcher as balanced and as steady as Jason Kendall.
Since Kendall's last season in 2004, the closest thing has been Ryan Doumit. Doumit's defensive inabilities and health issues, however, leave no doubt that Kendall is our guy.
Runner-up: Ryan Doumit
Best Season: 2000
.320 BA, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 22 SB
Craig Wilson played first base and outfield.
He was a valuable hitter throughout his five seasons with the Pirates.
His long blonde hair was his trademark during his time here, and I can remember seeing it hang out of his helmet as he touched home during his phenomenal 2004 season.
Kevin Young didn't play his best ball in the 2000s and Adam LaRoche quite simply was too boring.
Wilson was the best first baseman of the decade, even though he usually started about a third of the teams games in the outfield instead.
Runners-up: Kevin Young, Adam LaRoche
Best Season: 2004
.264 BA, 29 HR, 82 RBI
Freddy Sanchez came from Boston in 2004 as a 27-year-old bench player looking for a shot in a starting lineup.
Freddy played primarily third base for the Pirates in '04, '05 and '06 before switching to second base for his final two seasons in Pittsburgh.
Sanchez came out of nowhere to become a Pittsburgh hero, teaming up with Jack Wilson to form one of the best middle infields in '07 and '08.
The 2006 batting champion has gone on to win a World Series ring with the Giants and will forever be a Pittsburgh favorite.
Freddy faces little competition for this spot on the All-Decade team. Pokey Reese was awful, and Warren Morris was quite the letdown as well. Jose Castillo was the only other second baseman who was even mediocre during the decade, but Sanchez's batting title is too much to overlook.
Runner-up: Jose Castillo
Best Season: 2006
.344 BA, 6 HR, 85 RBI
"Jack Flash" was a defensive wizard.
You could find him on SportsCenter's Top 10 regularly.
His strong arm and knack to make the hard plays look easy were enjoyable to watch throughout his eight seasons in Pittsburgh.
He was a steady everyday player for the Buccos and was an All-Star representative in 2004.
Pair that with a Silver Slugger award, and Wilson is clearly the only consideration for the shortstop position on the All-Decade Team. I think I speak for all Pirates fans when I say thank you, Jack.
There really weren't any other options to even consider. Jack was the everyday Shortstop for so long that this was the easiest position to pick.
Best Season: 2004
.308 BA, 11 HR, 59 RBI
Ramirez made his name as the Pirates third basemen in the early 2000s.
His first year as an everyday starter was in 2001, when he burst onto the scene as one of the brightest young stars in the league.
He was traded to Chicago during the 2003 season and has been in the middle of their lineup since then.
It's a shame management felt the need to trade him away, because A-Ram is an all-around great baseball player.
Jose Bautista was simply not the player he is today during his seasons as the Pirates' third baseman. In two seasons as the starter, he hit a combined 31 home runs. How Toronto gets 50-plus from him now just makes no sense.
Runner-up: Jose "I spontaneously get 50-plus HR power once I leave the Pirates" Bautista
Best Season: 2001
.300 BA, 34 HR, 112 RBI
The 2004 NL Rookie of the Year filled the stat sheet after coming over from the Padres a year before.
Bay put up incredible numbers and steadily improved on them over the next three seasons.
Trading Jason Bay to the Red Sox in 2008 was an unpopular move with the Pirates faithful, as Bay had turned into a star.
Regardless of if trading Bay was the wrong move, the left fielder put up some serious numbers during his six seasons with the team.
He filled the hole left by Brian Giles (Who he was traded for by the Padres) and was a feared hitter in the middle of the lineup.
He took part in three All-Star games as a Bucco, including the 2005 Home Run Derby, and was really the closest thing to a superstar the Pirates had seen since Barry Bonds.
Runner-up: Rob Mackowiak
Best Season: 2005
.306 BA, 32 HR, 101 RBI
Brian Giles was a spectacular power hitter.
He played five seasons in Pittsburgh, with four of them coming in the 2000s. He consistently finished the season with 30-plus home runs and 100 runs batted in.
Brian Giles was the prototypical left-handed power bat. He thrived in PNC Park with the short fence in right field.
This was evidenced in that after he was traded to the Padres in 2003, he never hit more than 23 home runs in a season.
To cap it all off, Giles made one of the most memorable catches in Pirates history when he climbed the wall in left field to rob Brandon Phillips of a sure home run.
The Buccos' outfield was ever-changing during the 2000-2009 seasons.
The only thing that could really be expected year in and year out was inconsistency. Multiple "one-year wonders" and plenty of over-the-hill veterans such as Kenny Lofton and Reggie Saunders took their turns manning the outfield.
The top two outfielders of the decade were easy picks. The next slide will be the where it got tricky.
Runner-up: Xavier Nady
Best Season: 2000
.315 BA, 35 HR, 123 RBI
The third outfield spot was a tough call between Nate McLouth and Andrew McCutchen.
When it came down to the decision, McLouth ultimately gets the nod because he played more seasons than Cutch.
McLouth made an All-Star game appearance in 2007 and showed good power for a top of the lineup guy.
To go along with the pop in his bat, McLouth earned a Gold Glove in 2007, showing his all-around ability.
McCutchen will no doubt have a more accomplished career than McLouth, but simply looking at what each player put up before the 2010 season, it is hard to put Cutch in this spot. The only season in which he took part in during the decade was 2009.
I look forward to adding McCutchen's name to the Pirates' newest All-Decade team nine years from now.
Runner-up: Andrew McCutchen
Best Season: 2008
.276 BA, 26 HR, 94 RBI
Talk about picking the best of the worst. Paul Maholm takes our spot as the starting pitcher of the decade.
You've got your "one-year wonders" like Zach Duke and Oliver Perez, but when you look at each pitcher's overall body of work, Maholm was the most consistent.
He was never called on to be the ace, and he was never expected to compete for a Cy Young.
What Maholm did do, however, is eat up innings and stay healthy. His 4.35 ERA during the decade is nothing to brag about, and he actually never had a winning record other than his 3-1 record during his six-game debut in 2005.
In reality, the Pirates' problems have pretty much always stemmed from the rotation. It was literally impossible to try and pick one single pitcher who stuck out as the best of the decade.
I'll be willing to hear your arguments as to who you think deserves this spot and why, but until then, my pick is Maholm.
Runner-ups: Zach Duke, Oliver Perez, Kip Wells, Kris Benson
Best Season: 2008
9-9, 3.71 ERA, 139 K's
Mike Williams was a great closer for the Buccos in the early 2000s.
He did it for multiple years, which is something that we didn't see too often.
One or two year stop-gap closers was usually the case after Williams was traded to the Phillies in 2003.
Williams had a few solid years in a Pirates uniform, including a dominant 2002 campaign which saw him in an All-Star uniform. He added on another All-Star appearance in 2003, and that earned him the spot on our All-Decade team.
When you don't win many games, it's hard for a closer to stand out.
Jose Mesa put up a memorable 2004 season, but he just wasn't able to match the consistency and tenure of Williams.
Runners-up: Jose Mesa, Matt Capps
Best Season: 2002
2.93 ERA, 46 Saves, 7 K's/9 innings
Go ahead and try to pick the best out of Lloyd McClendon, Jim Tracy and John Russell.
Tracy averaged 67.5 wins per season while Lloyd averaged 67.2 and Russell 62.
Averaging 67 wins per season is never going to be a resume-builder, but McClendon was able to get three 70-win seasons.
Tracy and Russell both failed to accomplish this feat even once, and for that, McClendon gets the slight edge.
Plus, he did steal first base.
Best Season: 2003
Here are a few names that are sure to make you remember the glory days of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball that were the 2000s:
John Van Benschoten ('04, '07-'08)
Derek "Operation Shutdown" Bell ('01)
Bryan Bullington ('05,'07)
Chad Hermansen ('00-'02)
Adam Hyzdu ('00-'03)
Pat Meares ('00-'01)
Keith Osik ('00-'02)
Until next time, Raise the Jolly Roger!