The Pirates are Smack Dab in a Catch 22

Watching Trevor Williams pitch last night I made the obvious call that at the very least he can’t return next season expecting to start. Most people seemed to agree with that and they called for his DFA or to trade him.

Trevor has lived on his good half season in 2018 and shown flashes of finding something. Even this season he had one good start and it sends Pirates fans into overdrive either defending the other 8 horrific starts or calling for his immediate trade ‘while he’s hot’. Baseball just doesn’t work that way, so the Pirates will be forced to shop Williams hard in the off season.

To what affect though? What team is going to head into 2021 thinking Trevor is an answer for them? It’s not about what the Pirates get back, even with two years of control he won’t command much, he’s a project at best and for that you have to believe it’s in there but remains untapped. Now, I don’t believe there will be many of those types of teams out there, but pitching across the league isn’t deep. If the Pirates move him for a chunk of International Pool cash or even Conditional Draft picks its a win.

All of that supposes the fact they agree with me that they’ve seen enough. If Williams just burst on the scene in 2020, ok, I can see thinking a longer season will potentially bear more fruit, but he didn’t just arrive, and he simply hasn’t improved.

Williams is not even close to the only catch this club finds themselves in. Polanco is someone you could easily move if only he made less money. Anything’s possible thought, I mean a team like Tampa found someone who gave up three young players for Chris Archer. But it’s not likely. In fact the most likely outcome is that he stays here and plays at least a little.

Bell is just beginning to look like he’s going to go on one of his patented hot streaks, if he does and it lasts through the end of the season the Pirates should either push to extend him or move him. Bold change takes bold action and while calling for this is nothing new, understanding that this certainly won’t improve the club at this time still makes it a hard decision.

Trading the entire team is just not going to happen. First, Cherington has expressed more than once he wants to build on what he has and even if he’s lying, who is going to take the parts you want gone? Frazier has value but if they have decided he’s part of the outfield mix maybe they want to keep him.

Real improvement needs to come in the starting rotation and they can’t go through a 162 season with a rotation that can’t get past five innings regularly. Say Williams is out and they directly drop Taillon in. Is he a better pitcher? Well, he sure used to be, but we don’t know how he’ll look, despite the videos of him throwing. We’ve watched how this club handled Chad Kuhl returning from his first TJ procedure, if they do that with Jamo the bullpen is screwed.

I don’t expect an overnight change from this team, I just don’t think they have the capital to make significant change, but they can improve just by cutting bait on players who have shown what they are.

Trevor Williams, Dovydas Neverauskas, and Kyle Crick, have shown me enough and for the sake of the team I wish all three of them would do whatever Osuna did to have the club agree. The rotation next season could look better, and a longer season will even out some of the small sample size casualties, but to believe that’s the reason for all the failure will damn the Pirates to another season spinning their wheels. I’d rather lose with young guys trying to find their way than watch players reaffirm what they are.

If you get to two years of control remaining on a player, it stands to reason you’ve seen them for the best part of 4 seasons. If you can’t gauge what they are by then, perhaps it’s time to look for another profession.

This needs to be a very very active off season full of change, trades or DFA, the roster needs to move on from dead weight.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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