I mean, that’s at least a stylized definition of insanity, right? I should clarify, I’m someone expecting different results, so I can at least tell you why I think there is room to expect better. Keep in mind, I’m not talking a ton better, but improvement should be the goal and I think it’s attainable.
Couple things here, I like the starting pitching depth and if Jameson Taillon is 75% the pitcher he was he’s an improvement on over half the starters they trotted out there in 2020. The bullpen will minimally get Santana back and hopefully Burdi and a full season of Cederlind.
That’s just on the mound. That’s also not much to hang your hat on. Improvement doesn’t take too much though, when you lose 2/3 of your games its hard to get much worse. I’m looking for incremental improvement. Because that’s plausible, and because it’s a healthy expectation.
The work Cherington and crew have in front of them is daunting but we far too often see this process as something that just somehow comes together with no signs preceding it.
The White Sox for instance were just about at rock bottom back in 2018. Feels like 10 years ago doesn’t it? They won 62 games total that year, in 2019 the record improved to 72 games and while they still weren’t a winning club, you could see what they were building. The young pitching was there learning on the job or going to be there very soon. The young bats were special and patience with players like Tim Anderson started to look smart. Obviously I can’t just quote you a win total for 2020 and show progression but a .583 win percentage was good for a third place finish in their division. Over the course of a full campaign who knows if they would have kept that level of play going but I think it’s safe to say, another incremental improvement was on the way.
That’s really the goal. If the Pirates are just a failure from here until the day there is another playoff game in the North Shore in your eyes, that’s entirely your right. But for a guy like me who enjoys the ride just as much as the destination, the team building process is intriguing to me.
Don’t get me wrong, this season sucked. It’s part of the process for sure but I didn’t enjoy what happened on the field much of the season.
My wife and I love driving to Hilton Head. We both enjoy the drive down almost just as much as getting there. And I mean every step along the way, stopping at historical sites on the way through West Virginia if we go that route, or getting a giant coffee and sandwich at Sheetz in Breezewood (Pennsylvania’s gateway to vacation). All the sights and sounds along the way being part of that ultimate goal. If I look up and see signs for Toledo, you know a wrong turn, I think I might not be quite so happy with the trip.
The point is, you don’t have to sit back and enjoy every mistake made on the way there. Here’s the kicker, when you stop for gas off the turnpike and it’s a dollar more expensive than every other sign you’ve seen, you have to get it anyway if you want the trip to continue. The White Sox did just that with Grandall. And before this story is written, the Pirates will have to do it too.
I saw a cute piece written just the other day showing what each of the four final playoff teams could teach the Pirates. It was silly really, its safe to say every year whomever ends up in the final four have done a good job with all the categories covered. Development, Deals, Scouting, they all factor in. Maybe it’s been too long, but back in 2013 the national pundits raved about the Pirates system and talked about the lasting ability of the franchise that had been restored.
It was for a couple seasons, and could have probably gone another further, but we’re sitting right back at the bottom looking up. If Ben Cherington makes no moves this off season, this club will improve. Again, not enough, but improve. If he doesn’t want stuck with growing his team directly out of the ashes left by Huntington, he needs to finish the deconstruction project. The foundation might just go up faster than we think if he does this right.