I’ll jump right in. I’ve advocated for the Pirates extending Josh Bell, well, since I started writing about the Pirates. I’ve also kept firmly in the back of my mind he is a Scott Boras client and had more than likely already played himself out of town.
Here is where I could “report” all about how the Pirates are working with Mr. Boras and building on Ben Cherrington’s existing relationship with him to establish a new way of doing things in Pittsburgh. Instead, I’ll implore you to read what the original reporter wrote on the subject, Jason Mackey did a wonderful job here and deserves credit.
That said, the PG is a pay site now and just in case you’re past your number of free views available, allow me to summarize.
On day four after becoming the GM, Ben called Scott to talk about Josh Bell. Not to negotiate, just to talk, to lay out his plan and learn more about Josh and his story. He was leveraging his existing relationship built during his tenure with Boston. Scott was very complimentary and truly seems to believe they can get something done here if they choose to do so. He also has great respect for Travis Williams and Special Assistant Greg Smith.
Insert necessary safe walls and bet hedging here. Josh Bell is not going to come cheap, but perhaps this allows us to do something we haven’t here in Pittsburgh for some time however, dream.
There is a phenomenon that happens in this town, and I’m sure elsewhere but here for sure. I call it the “I Never Liked That Girl Anyway” plan. We see it all the time if you think about it. Gerrit Cole was never going to sign here so we start listing why we don’t want this absolute can’t miss stud pitcher. “He never had that much success here” “He had an attitude problem” “He didn’t try here, he just wanted out”. We’ve seen it with Starling Marte, “He was lazy and unfocused” “He never lived up to his potential” He was hurt ALL the time” “I never liked him after he got caught doing steroids”
There are elements of truth in there, but reality states, if either of those players would have happily stayed here, you’d be hard pressed to find a fan who’d tell them to hit the bricks.
It didn’t just start in this era; Barry Bonds was a prima donna and had a weak arm. John Smiley wasn’t good enough to be a top end starter in the rotation. Jason Bay peaked in his rookie year and they needed to get something for him. Freddie Sanchez was a judy hitter, this one went so far as to claim his batting title was tainted as if singles don’t count.
This fan base doesn’t, for the most part, do this to be miserable, they do it as a defense mechanism. Just like the girl that turned your invitation to the prom down, suddenly they have flaws where they were perfect leading up to the ask.
The major takeaway here is this, Ben is a different GM, and if he proves he is capable of keeping players like this it will immediately make building a roster easier. Rather than having to bet on near complete turnover of the roster window to window perhaps there is room for some holdovers that truly become a core. Even if he swings and misses on keeping Josh in town, the sentiment here shows a willingness and understanding that these are the types of moves that start to repair the damage done to the fan base over the years and at the same time keep key pieces in place that make the overall product better for longer stretches.
I know, I know, Josh is awful at defense and isn’t consistent and, well that’s it, not even Pittsburgh can pretend he’s a malcontent or doesn’t care. All I’m asking is you allow yourself to be ever so slightly less pessimistic, because its very possible the front office shakeup is truly different. And before you jump back to the fact, I haven’t mentioned Bob Nutting and he’s way too cheap to ever let this happen, here is one quote from Jason’s story as Scott Boras spoke to it. “I think Bob now has a platform of information that’s available to him that will allow him a new constitution for Pittsburgh,” Boras said. “He’s going to have to make major decisions that are based upon advisement, and he’ll have to determine if the information he’s given is reliable and trusted to where he’ll feel differently about it than he has in the past.
“But you have to have your bill of success. Each one of those bills that create the Pittsburgh constitution has to be created by men who have a trusted history. I think [Smith] is a person who has that history. And frankly, I think Ben does as well.”
Yeah, Scott could just be trying to be nice, or he could really believe things are changing here. I guess we’ll find out soon enough, but its good to know the end of arbitration won’t always have to mean parting ways.