The Pirates finally made some moves this week as the Rule Five Draft provided some much needed depth for the club. Here are some other topics floating around in my head as the rumor mill quickly goes back to near silent.
1. Maybe We Need to Stop Counting Down
MLB has already pushed forward the idea that they could push the season opener back to May. Now, I suppose that would move pitchers and catchers back a month as well, but understandably the players would like to know sooner than later because they tend to be creatures of habit and would like to be able to start their schedule of conditioning and building up. The stated intent was to afford time for the vaccine to be distributed and administered and while this might sound like a jaded take, it probably has more to do with butts in seats.
2. David Dahl is a Missed Opportunity
Look, Dahl isn’t a superstar. Every team in the league just had an opportunity to get him for free and instead chose to let him go to free agency rather than pay his commonly expected arbitration figure. Yesterday he reached an agreement with the Texas Rangers on a one year deal worth 3 million bucks.
David is exactly the type of player the Pirates should be in on early in the process. Three million is nothing, even for the Pirates. Worst case scenario, he stinks or gets hurt and the Pirates get nothing out of it beyond showing fans they care about the product on the way to the goal. Best case he works out well and you either explore an extension or flip him for prospects. It’s really a win-win.
If you don’t like Dahl, ok, it’s not really an argument about this one player as much as hoping the team was in on talks here and the others like him. The outfield depth is absolutely non-existent and if they don’t address it, very real possibility they have to dip into completely unprepared AA players.
3. Money is Almost Always an Issue
Nobody is arguing that Bob Nutting spends enough money, but right now it’s not important. I mean, it is if you’re waiting for the mythological day when he does, but this team and the stage they’re in simply doesn’t dictate spending much.
The premise is simple, save money, trade players, acquire top end young talent, spend when those players start getting there. Putting it in action is where the plan runs into issues for the fans.
Back in 2016 the Pirates set their record for payroll and even that wasn’t an impressive number, but the payroll did rise every season from 2011-2016, and it netted the club three playoff seasons consecutively. Huntington and Nutting failed through inaction in 2016. They needed to definitively pick a lane and go. Either spend and truly keep a competitive team on the field or don’t and enter into the rebuild that was clearly on the horizon.
If they had chosen either there could have been one more year in the hunt or we could be just now reaping the reward of the painful choice. Now, you don’t have to believe Nutting will let Ben do his job when the time comes, I’ve got a healthy dose of that thought process in me for sure, but right now, it truly doesn’t matter.
4. The Bullpen Will Present Some Tough Choices
First of all, good. The Bullpen was a beat up mess last season and we saw far too many unprepared and unseasoned players brought in to act as warm bodies. There were some finds though, Howard, Turley, even Hartlieb counts. Some of the Rule 5 picks as well as health will create some very tough choices.
Sounds weird for a team many would and have said have no pitching right? Well look back at the piece I wrote about the Pirates doing nothing. In that piece I already had some tough choices outlined and I decided to leave Kyle Crick and Blake Cederlind off my final roster. The two pickups could create more questions one of which could be JT Brubaker who more than proved he belongs.
Of course the Pirates will make trades, or at least should, but even given that, the bullpen has more depth than it has in recent years.
5. The Yankee Rumors are Utter Crap
I’m not saying they won’t make a deal with the Yankees, but not the ones being rumored. I touched on this a bit in the rumors piece earlier this week but it’s actually gotten even more silly since. And as much as I love the guy, Bob Pompeani simply doesn’t understand how baseball or the Pirates operate any more. Sometimes diversity precludes expertise. It actually hurts my head to see the top sports guy in town buy into completely nonsensical trades.