Top Ten Pirates Questions & Answers We Hear All the Time

There are many questions that readers have about the Buccos, each and every one has a variable but for the most part we answer these in one form or another almost daily. So let’s put them all in one place and see if we can’t get past them and on to a new set.

  1. Why don’t you list Chris Archer in the rotation for 2021? So, this is a long answer but only because I have to spend time telling you what it isn’t as well. Chris Archer lost 2020 due to injury, the specific injury is TOS and it is just about the most difficult to recover from. Here is a wonderful piece about the condition and the history of recovering from it. His option is for 11 Million if they pick it up or they can buy out of it for 250K. Picking up the option with the expectation he will perform well enough to move at the deadline would be quite the roll of the dice as he’d be a rental and this club will already have to non-tender some players they’d rather not. Kind of cheating here but another angle on this question is why not pass on his option and sign him for less? Even if the Pirates think that’s a good idea, Archer would most likely bet on himself that he could get more than the Bucs would offer, but I suppose if he would take 7-8 maybe it’s possible, just not likely.
  2. Should the Pirates extend Ke’Bryan Hayes now? The quick answer most other readers will tend to toss at the asker is No, he just started. There is precedent for this sort of move and the White Sox just did it with Luis Robert. If you feel reasonably assured a player will make himself very expensive via arbitration alone it might be wise to pay more now to avoid making tough choices later. Craig covered this well right here. It’s a gamble to be sure but again, gaining traction in the league as a method of gaining cost control.
  3. What’s the point? This team won’t ever win until they spend money. Well, yes, of course that’s true. Building a team the way the Pirates have to approach it is a slow climb. Let’s just for the sake of argument pretend the Pirates have 60% of the pieces that will eventually make them a winning club. When players they draft or acquire start to make their way into the MLB scene that 60% will have either reached arbitration or been signed to extensions. The payroll will go up organically and it will most likely top the 2016 level. If you’re waiting for them to do something like the Reds or Brewers and sign someone to a monster deal (Votto or Yelich) I’d first tell you they haven’t had a player like that in decades, no not even Cutch, and a free agent of that level isn’t coming here, even if Bob’s wallet was open on the coffee table. You can rightly count Cole, but he didn’t want to be here and that’s part of the equation too. You’re absolutely right they won’t win until they spend money, but at the same time they can’t buy their way out of where they are. Personally, I’d add 30 to 40 million in free agent acquisitions to improve the product right now and provide trade capital to accelerate the farm restocking, but let’s face it, I’m not the GM so when you ask, you’re not going to get my plan, you’ll get what I think Ben’s is.
  4. The Pirates are the League’s farm team! Ok so this isn’t a question as much as a statement but it is extremely popular. First let’s talk about what makes this a reality. The Pirates have been in a constant state of trying to pretend they had a competitive team since 2015 ended. Rather than biting the bullet and moving what they had all at once (or at least close) they have moved one or two players who were nearing the end of their contract or control with the club every year. Tampa does this all the time, and they soon will again when you start hearing names like Snell being put on the market. The difference is they have talent pushing their way onto the team and by the time they sell a player the downside is already in view or predicted, see Archer. It sure helps when you can sell a name for three big pieces doesn’t it? As dumb as the Archer trade was in hindsight (and yes I know, you all knew it was dumb at the time) that move was at least in Huntington’s eyes, a starting OF in the future, a failed SP prospect and a top pick who they wanted to start but profiled as a bullpen arm. He was wrong, period but this wasn’t a dump, just a dumb move. Overall, you’re right, they have been. Hard to assign that to the new management just now.
  5. Who is the most likely player to be traded? Wow, there are plenty of options but to me it’s one of Colin Moran and Josh Bell. MLB is leaning toward no DH in 2021 for the National League if that happens you simply can’t have both of these guys. The Pirates need to decide which one is not necessarily the future, but the bridge to Mason Martin or Will Craig. Adam Frazier is there and I’ll say this, adding him to the OF mix made me feel a bit less sure. The Pirates need OF help and if they insist on keeping Gonzalez at SS Adam needs a place to play so Newman can slide over. Musgrove is the most likely starter, but he’s also exactly the type of starter I’d like to see them extend. He’s one of those guys who isn’t going to be your number one but he’ll pitch like it on occasion. Pitching is hard to develop and having someone as an anchor is good idea. That said if they can get a good package, have at it.
  6. Would you DFA anyone unexpected? Well let’s be honest, what they mean is beside Riddle and the like, will the Bucs cut ties with someone that would shock us? Trevor Williams is my pick. If you’ve followed what I’ve written this season with any regularity chances are you came across some rather harsh takes on Trevor. For half a season in 2018 he was a decent starting pitcher, good even, but throughout his entire career including MiLB that one instance was the outlier. Holding out hope that he’ll return to that level, one must believe bad luck was at play for literally every other season he has played. Enough. If you want to show the fans that you won’t accept performance like that, cut ties and no I don’t think anyone will trade for him.
  7. Why won’t the Pirates cut Gregory Polanco? Simple but yet somehow not. He hit 7 home runs out of his total of 24 hits in 2020. Somehow led the team in RBI, and struck out 65 times in 157 ABs. Is that cut worthy, oh yes. He’ll make 11.6 Million in 2022 and that counts even if the Pirates cut him as it’s a guaranteed contract. In 2023 the Pirates can pay 3 Million to cut ties with him, and unless something drastic happens with his game, they’ll do exactly that. Best case scenario, he performs in 2021 and the Pirates have offers on him. Even then they’ll be accused of dumping should they move him but how can you trust he’ll be worth 12.5 Million in 2022 and not revert to the Polanco we’ve all seen for years? I like Gregory, and I would love to be wrong here, but the evidence is overwhelming that I’m dead on.
  8. Sell the team to Mark Cuban. You know, some of these are too easy. Let’s pick off Cuban first, he doesn’t want them. There was a time when he was interested but that time has passed, blame Bob Nutting for that as he flatly told him he wasn’t interested in selling when Cuban inquired. Mario won’t buy them either. Bob Nutting has no interest in selling this team and has a stated goal of handing it to his daughter when he’s done. If you really want to see it happen, stop picking individual names and understand MLB changing the rules to allow hedge funds to own teams is more likely. That said, it would be a bit like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, because what do hedge funds do? They make money, and they ‘hedge’ toward the most likely way to make more. That doesn’t often lead to purchasing 10 years of a pitcher’s services. If this takes you out of following the team or talking about current issues that are going on under the current framework, sorry, talk to you later when and if you get your wish. For the record, most people covering the team would love him to sell as well, we just have to deal with reality and the realities that creates. I’m not here to sell you false hope, I’m here to discuss ways this team can overcome ownership.
  9. 2021 is going to be just as bad isn’t it? Well, probably not. The Pirates got off to a historically bad start in 2020 and while injuries played a role, no team is going to do well when the supposed stars can’t hit. I can’t wrap my head around believing Bryan Reynolds is this player we just watched. The pitching staff is the one area where injury really did come into play and when it started to get healthy is really improved. As bad, no I don’t think so. Bad, yeah, probably especially when you consider they really do need to make moves. I’d settle for cutting bait on Williams, Crick, Riddle, Neverauskas, and the like to make room for others like Alford, Santana (after his suspension), Cederlind for more than 3 or 4 games, Oliva, maybe even Cruz. There is room for improvement without much moving from outside the organization.
  10. Why won’t they just cut all these guys and play the young players? Oh man, we hear this one a ton. I understand the sentiment and Ke’Bryan Hayes sure made it look like a no brainer didn’t he? Truth be told, they don’t have enough young players to really do this right now. That could change if they receive players who could help right now in exchange for trading veterans, but for the most part, they ARE playing the young guys. That’s an issue for a whole bunch of reasons, first being this is the result of Huntington’s building effort. And when we talk about age, I’m thinking service time, while I assume most of you mean actual age. For instance Jacob Stallings isn’t a young player, but he is a controlled and young (service time wise) player. I don’t need to envision a guy wearing black and gold in 2030 to think he is part of the solution right now. Kevin Newman and Bryan Reynolds are just ending their 2nd year in the show. This isn’t a team loaded with grizzled veterans who have fizzled out and playing so the team doesn’t eat contract, well Polanco is, instead it is a club loaded with young players who may very well emerge, but just as likely won’t. Cutting ties with controllable assets is something clubs like Pittsburgh are loathed to do and it quite literally is because they can’t afford to flush them without getting something to backfill the system.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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