Five Pirates Thoughts at Five 10/13/20

It’s been a while since I put one of these together but none of these add up to full columns so I wanted to put some thoughts out here and get some conversation going.

  1. The Pirates are taking Kumar Rocker! Right? Well, probably. I’m sure they’re leaning that way, but let’s take this out of baseball for a moment. If I need to build a deck next Summer, I might draw up some plans and might even go so far as to price out materials. Does that mean whomever has the best price in October is going to get my business in the Summer? What if they’re competitive and I have to consider other factors such as service, availability, maybe even quality? This is a big decision, it deserves the gravity of thought. Frankly, if they came out and said today who the plan was, I’d question that they’re doing due diligence. The pick get’s made next July, we don’t need to know yet, and they certainly don’t need to know right this second. The drop off from one to two is not grand canyon sized.
  2. If Ben Cherington doesn’t make trades of XX thru YY I’ll know he’s a puppet. What? Trades don’t happen because one side wants them to. We’ve discussed in this space the difficulties in finding a trade partner for a player like Josh Bell. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to say a player sucks to believe there might not be a market for the player. Before you arbitrarily deem this GM a failure or winner based on who he has or hasn’t traded, at least look around the league and ask yourself these questions. Do they have a need? Do they have a desirable return? Would they be willing to part with that return? Will both sides get something they desire? If you think you know who will trade for a player and haven’t or can’t answer these questions, chances are it’s because there are none.
  3. Whoever the Pirates draft either won’t sign or will get traded in 3 years. As you know, I understand the jaded nature at which much of the fan base looks at the Pirates. They’ve earned that scrutiny surely, but both of these takes are idiotic. The draft has changed over the years, slotting says this is how much you can pay this guy at this point in the draft. This isn’t the old days where the Pirates would select a ‘signable’ pick rather than the best available. Those days are over, and it doesn’t matter if you trust the Pirates or not. The only way that would happen in today’s climate would be the selection of an underclassmen in which you hadn’t pre-negotiated the bonus and contract. There isn’t a GM, interim GM, bench jockey or any other executive in MLB that would make a number one pick without that being done. If the player is in MLB within 3 years it is untypically fast. From that point you get (as it stands now) 6 or 7 years of team control from there. Forecasting doom is the national pastime for many “sports” talkers who have long since stopped paying actual attention to MLB, let alone the Pirates.
  4. The Pirates have decided to retain the entire coaching staff. I’m not shocked. Despite some very real questions that came up as this season played out, I didn’t expect 60 games to be enough to convince Cherington he was wrong in his choices. Maybe he isn’t, maybe Shelton learned something in those 60 games. I understand it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. That said, until they explain their thinking it’s hard for me to say more than look at the results. Those results however are also based on 60 games. Now if that’s not enough to make a judgement on Shelton, it’s hard to argue it’s enough for the hitting coach. We’ll have no way of knowing how married he is to his choices until he makes a change one day, but it’s very safe to say he didn’t feel 60 games was enough to uproot the apple cart.
  5. If the Pirates unexpectedly ‘arrive’ early, does the plan change? The funny thing is, this is exactly why you won’t hear many GM’s affirm a rebuild. Because if it happens early people know it wasn’t your plan that made it happen. For instance, the White Sox showed up a season early, everything they were doing was building to 2021 and things came together faster, now we already discussed what 60 games created, who knows what a full season would have brought their way, but suffice to say they weren’t targeting 2020. This shouldn’t be taken as a prediction but if the Bucs don’t move any starting pitchers, the rotation still has a great chance to be much better next season. If any of the hitters look like they can, things improve. Let’s say they find a way to .500 next year, does the plan change? Does Cherington continue to move players and stock the system or does he get antsy and try to build on it? He has stated he liked the opportunity here because he could build from the ground up. I’d like to think he’d stay the course, that would be best for the long run, but the urge to win could alter his path. Interesting to think about at least. What would you want him to do?

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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