Playing for Their Jobs?

In little more than a week the Pirates will be forced to cut the 30-man roster down to 28 and they need to keep their eye on the next date of importance too, because cutting to 26 will cause even more consternation.

You can easily say after watching the first two games of this series that any or all of them should go but let’s try to be grown ups shall we. We knew what this year was, a year of evaluation where very few players were actually safe.

The problem in the past becomes the problem of the future too if they make decisions that show performance isn’t the main factor by which decisions are made. Kyle Crick is a perfect example, here is a guy with all the talent in the world, his spin rate is among the best in the league. Here’s the thing though, his velocity is down a bit, he can’t control the slider and his head is a glaring problem.

When it comes time to cut down, is he safe because he was supposed to be better than he is, or does he suffer the fate anyone trying to make a team? Sadly, I think I know the answer. Maybe we should focus on someone else who doesn’t have that electric stuff, you know someone like Richard Rodriguez. Here is a guy who put up better numbers than you’d expect if you watched a decent amount of Pirates baseball last season. This is also where you realize that stats aren’t always what they seem. Every time one of these two is brought into a game you get that feeling in your gut, that nagging sensation that the lead is gone, or going to become smaller. Maybe it’s like this season so far and there was no lead to begin with, but a tight game is about to become a blowout.

Why does he keep getting chances? Why do either of them keep getting chances?

I’d love to tell you there was a crop of young players knocking down the door, but Blake Cederlind is really it and he’s recovering from COVID. That’s a big part of this, there aren’t any options.

Most people understand this is what Cherington inherited, nobody serious thought they’d magically coach up what we watched in 2019 but I still think there is room to wonder about some things.

Evaluating what is here, could have happened even if Cherington had added to the bullpen. Let’s list out the surprises the Pirates encountered as we got here.

Edgar Santana missing the entire season for juicing. I can’t even say this was a huge loss because who knows how he would have played after returning from surgery. I’d like to think he’d have done better than what we’ve seen and given the Bucs an option in the back of the pen but now that will be a question remaining for 2021.

Chris Archer missing the entire season, but let’s face it, nobody including the staff knew what he was going to give this year. Best case scenario he was a starter and perhaps Brault and Kuhl move directly to the pen.

The Bucs brought in Robbie Erlin, ok, he’s a lefty, I’d be lying if I said good or bad signing right now but I suspect he’s a hit or miss type pitcher, never a threat to help out in the back end.

So, why didn’t Ben do more to improve this club where it had glaring holes? Let me put it this way, providing real options for the bullpen wouldn’t have harmed the evaluation process in any way and maybe the team and the fans would actually get to have a little fun while they did it.

It’s early yet, and no I don’t mean in the season, that’s not how this needs to be looked at with 60 games. No, I mean it’s early in Cherington’s tenure, and the Pirates biggest problems could not have escaped anyone.

Did he just believe too much in what Oscar Marin could get done with these guys? Has he just not had enough time with any of them because of events beyond their control?

I believe coaching can make a difference and I believe Oscar to be a great coach, but at some point, we’re asking him to fix a problem and handle it with MacGyver tools.

I’m truly interested to see how the upcoming cuts are handled; we’ll learn a whole lot because this regime should have no reason to make it appear as though Neal Huntington had all the pieces here. Will they make cuts based on merit, or supposed hidden skill?

With limited viable options and make no mistake that is very much on this regime, I believe the cuts will be pretty obvious.  That said should they go through this season of ‘evaluation’ and try to trot the same cast of characters out next season, we won’t be fooled again, but that’s what the Who said.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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