The Pirates Clinch Probable Number One Pick

There are still two games remaining in this season but last night the Pirates grasped defeat from the jaws of victory and the Texas Rangers won their contest last night. Now, the only hiccup remaining would be Rob Manfred playing with the rules to determine the order.

Thoughts on this have leaked over the past week or two that lead one to believe he will leave the order alone, or leave it based on this season’s results, but you never know until you know. Concerns that the Pirates will somehow not pay whomever they choose is just silly. I understand this is fueled by the club taking obvious lesser talents in order to reach for that blessed sign-ability but slotting has all but eliminated this sort of thing.

Provided the player wants to be drafted at all, there is nothing to be gained by bucking who drafts them. For instance, next year the Pirates can expect to have somewhere around 1 or 2 million more in slot bonus money than their next closest competitor. The number one overall pick will be slotted at around 9-10 million and the number 2 will be 8-9.

Teams can dip into their pool beyond those suggested slot values but not by much due to penalties baked in and they’d also hurt themselves in the ability to pay draft picks in future rounds by doing so. It’s just not something to worry about.

In other words, if they want Rocker or Leiter, they’ll get Rocker or Leiter.

Now, if you’re worried that their system will ruin one of them, ok, that’s fair based on what you’ve heard for the better part of 20 years. Ben Cherington himself has spoken to the development system being sub par and some of his first actions were to invest in more tools for all levels to employ. They’ve hired new coaches for most stops on the journey and what happened in 2020 prevented us from seeing the benefits, if they actually were going to be beneficial.

This off season he’ll need to dive back in, and early too. He has stated all the changes he wanted to make were impossible since he was too far into the process when he accepted the position. I’d anticipate removals to start relatively quickly once the season wraps and moving parts start to fly around the league.

The Pirates have put themselves in this position, no not the number one pick, the fact that they have their own fan base believing the club has just as much a chance of destroying a can’t miss draft pick as they do discovering a diamond in the rough. The Pirates organization has certainly failed to develop talent, but that’s why they replaced them isn’t it? None of that means Ben has some magic touch, or we should blindly trust that those days are in our rear view, at some point he has to prove it.

He comes to Pittsburgh with a reputation for evaluating talent in the draft, but when all you have to base his Pirates story on is one five-round draft and a handful of pitiful free agent signings I can see why folks would question his ability to identify talent.

The most comforting thing I can tell you is signing a JT Riddle is not equivalent to making a selection in the draft. You can’t look at Riddle or John Ryan Murphy and believe this is what constitutes his eye for talent. Totally different animal.

There are things no GM will say and the top of the mountain in this category is probably we didn’t think this team was worth spending money on. That doesn’t mean we can’t infer based on what he’s done so far that they very much so felt that way.

As many of you who follow me are aware I just spent a few days away from the day to day of covering the Pirates for a little vacation, one that made internet connection a rare luxury. I’d check in on social media when we found our way to a place with WIFI or returned to the cabin for the evening but stepping back from everything for a few days really helped me put this season in perspective.

Realistically, this team is not as bad as their record indicates. They’d probably find themselves somewhere between a .400 and .500 winning percentage (heavy lean on the .400 side) and a draft pick in the top ten. This short season and the incredibly awful start to the season put them in position to get this pick.

The sinking feeling that they need to trade a bunch of players but have precious few that anyone else would want pervaded most of my thoughts. Stepping back has really allowed me to look more broadly at the league and realize the Pirates are in no way alone in needing to change course.

After the season wraps, Craig, Anthony and I will begin the post mortem on 2020 and looking at the path forward. Don’t be caught off guard when the plan isn’t as drastic as some have predicted, and don’t discount the effect of other clubs trying to reduce costs.

This is setting up to be one of the more eventful off seasons we’ve seen in the city in recent history and I can’t wait to dig in.

Two games left, I guess we can all finally come together and root for the actual players who are here now that the number one pick is decided. It’ll be nice to feel the fan base all together again if only for a couple days.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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