Opening Day, Pirates Predictions for 2020

Sixty game seasons be damned, every opening day has unanswered questions when the season starts, this is no different. The most obvious is less of a question and more of a prediction request. How many games will the Pirates win this year? Nobody knows of course but math tells me they’ll be in the mix especially if the League and the Union come to an eleventh-hour agreement to expand the playoffs.

Yeah, that sounds like a cop out, but I put them somewhere in the 25-30-win range and even without an expansion that won’t be more than 4 or 5 games off the pace on the low end and in on the high end.

Overall, I believe this will be a decent hitting club, but the pitching is ripe to fail more often than not. I truly believe in Musgrove, I truly have hope for Keller. I believe Williams is in the process of showing himself to be a right-handed Jeff Locke, you know, show us a great half season and forever live off that success as a potential that is never realized again.

Holland is at best Jordan Lyles, which would be a huge win. Brault and Kuhl will both show themselves well but under the current plan both will be minimized.

If I’m honest, I’d rather split the two and put Holland back in the pen that could use veteran leadership and have him there as an insurance policy. Even if it leads to the same win total, I’d prefer to find out what they have in Brubaker if they’re married to this piggyback start thing as it appears.

Next up is the trade fever.  For some trades or potential trades are the show. Many have decided that no matter what Cherington says he’ll be completely tearing this down and starting over. I’m not getting that impression, and more importantly, I don’t see this shortened season providing a great opportunity. I could be wrong of course but I just don’t see it.

Not this season anyway. Trading for prospects right now would be like buying groceries for a month without a refrigerator. We’re also reaching a precipice with baseball economics, in which a full ¾ of clubs want to build the same way. Through the draft and trading veterans for prospects. That’s a whole lot of competition in the space teams like Pittsburgh used to corner the market and most of the teams that you’d typically consider a buyer for your wares have no need for what the Bucs might be selling.

Be honest about Josh Bell, you’d be selling potential. Potential consistency. Potential, once it reached the majors is no longer as sexy as when it’s beginning the journey in Single A. Bell is worth more to Pittsburgh than the Yankees. You can do as many Surplus ratings and WAR comparisons as you like, If the number of people who can afford a Tesla falls below production levels, guess what won’t go for 80K plus anymore.

I simply don’t see a strong market and worse for trades, I don’t see most teams admitting they’re out of it quickly enough to pull the trigger and even then, it better be a sure-fire upgrade. If the Bucs were to want to move someone like Bryan Reynolds, ok teams will line up, but why would they want to do that? Right or wrong you’ll not convince me that Cherington feels he won’t have this ship turned around before Reynolds is out of team control. Pitchers are on the way, not next season, but soon after, that is reason number one why tearing it down isn’t in the cards, no matter how much you want it.

It’s a fan’s job to think about what their club should do, but don’t be too shocked when they don’t make any moves this season, any that matter anyhow.

Another lesson we should take note of already is, it’s a total waste of time to read into the non-reports for absences and injuries. Keone Kela is a perfect example. Most of us assumed it was COVID related, and turns out it was, but that didn’t stop people from assuming he was being petulant or difficult. Turns out it is exactly what we should have assumed. I don’t feel like there is a negative stigma for testing positive but I also can’t tell players they have to tell us, that said I can say if you don’t want a bunch of fans to jump to conclusions and even make up stories, might just want to let the team tell us.

We all get it, we won’t think less of you, and it will take it out of the news cycle faster than any other avenue. Should they not take that path, go ahead and assume the elephant in the room is in fact there, its just a waste of time to do mental gymnastics on these situations.

The biggest question left is what will the Pirates do with Ke’Bryan Hayes? He’s already been sent to Altoona and despite his COVID status, that was always the plan. Phillip Evans showing some pop actually makes his promotion less certain. Hayes was already going to go to Altoona because he needs to miss six days to save the Pirates a year of service time. Needs to miss more like 20 days should they be concerned about Super-2. Now once that time has passed, the Pirates need to decide if he is an upgrade. The buzz around him sure says yes, but if Evans shows good, what do you do?

I’m not anti-Hayes, I just see no reason to shuffle the deck chairs if he’s just going to sit on the bench.

The Pirates will do one thing this year, evaluate. Evaluate who is part of the solution, who is part of the problem, and most importantly who will be here when the target for success is in view. This season could be a successful campaign if only because of the shortened season could be just as destructive as it is lucky, nobody truly knows which club will be which but I predict the overall field will be within striking distance, even if the assessment is foolish, of the playoffs, especially if they expand them.

Final Pre-Season record prediction for the Pirates, 28-32. 2-3 games out if they don’t expand, right on the cut line if they do. The offense will carry the mail and the pitching will do just enough to make the runs count.

My son is getting married on Opening Day, so I’ll not get to enjoy the festivities I’d normally be relishing, but Craig will have you covered!

Welcome back Baseball!

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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