Well, yeah, they just might.
Now, some of you might be screaming “That’s what I’ve been saying!” and yeah, many of you have been, but you see that as a negative, and I’m going to try to explain why this or a hybrid approach makes sense.
It’s too simple to say look at Tampa, but let’s start by looking at Tampa. They have a very small fan base and their method almost requires that. Here’s what I mean by that, see they trade Blake Snell to the Padres for a haul of prospects (arguably not much more than the Pirates got for Musgrove BTW) and there is more outrage from the national baseball writers than their own fan base.
Transplant that to the Pirates, they move a player like Josh Bell, nowhere near the level of Snell or even Cutch for that matter and there is uproar in the streets. Now, maybe that’s because Bell was the first domino to fall this off season and not everyone had braced themselves because I have to admit, I was damn near proud of the overwhelmingly positive way most received the Musgrove trade.
Maybe that’s because quantity is more powerful a factor than potential. Maybe it’s because this deal had both. Maybe it’s because we were more honest about what Joe was than what Josh was. Most likely it’s because many of you have finally embraced that this isn’t just a facelift, it’s a full on remodel.
The Never Ending Cycle
Well, not to again opine on Tampa, but yeah, it kinda is, or at least it can be. That doesn’t mean you never sign anyone or extend guys where appropriate, but if this system is done correctly you almost always have guys pushing their way into the lineup or knocking on the door of MLB. Genuine competition we don’t see here in Pittsburgh. For instance, from the time Pedro Alvarez was drafted he was going to be our starting Third Baseman, there was nobody he’d have to fight past, nobody at any level to compete with. He was the guy and while he didn’t turn into the monster he could have he certainly was successful enough to be a good pick. But nothing ever came behind him. It was Pedro or bust until they signed David Friese to cure his yips.
Who is competing with Travis Swaggerty for his playing time? How about Cruz? Mason Martin? Well, those types of questions are just starting to get answers because that’s exactly what they’re bringing in.
We often look at the depth chart in the minors and start looking at the potential lineup in 2024 or worry about having 3 guys who could be the short stop of the future. This is not a problem. This is the goal.
You shouldn’t be able to look at your system and pick out 5 pitchers and pencil them in for 3 years from now, instead you should have a crop of 10-15 who could all very well end up contributing. If someday you’re looking at the minors and a player like Quinn Priester is seen as someone who might break in as a bullpen arm to start his career that’s a win.
Now if the Pirates do in fact draft Kumar Rocker, in all likelihood he will not resign with Pittsburgh. He’ll come up and be a big part of the team and if everything goes right he’ll even be part of a winner, but under this system, yes they’ll move him and again, if done well for another haul that dwarfs what they just got for Joe. By then, the hope is you have more of those pitchers who were ready, step up and the cycle keeps going.
That’s not fun to think about as a fan. It hurts in fact, but I’m never going to be a guy who’s going to tell you what you want to hear on this.
Again, it doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t extend some guys. For instance they may feel really strongly that Bryan Reynolds is a guy they need to build around and it may be more about the lack of depth in the outfield than his star power. At some point though, he too will most likely be moved.
Sure you could go the Reds or Brewers route too, get yourself a star and lock them up for years to come like Votto or Yelich, I won’t knock going that way either but for the most part, it doesn’t lead to sustained competitiveness either. Probably sells more tickets. Probably makes the talk show hosts happier. Hell, it probably makes some of the fans happier, but it doesn’t get the job done any more efficiently.
Nutting is Padding His Wallet
But right now, knowing what the plan is, and clearly so, look at the moves, who cares? I loathe the guy but the payroll means absolutely nothing right now.
I’d love to see him looking like the monopoly man after paying the 200 buck penalty on the chance card but what I’m rooting for most is that the owner is just about rendered inconsequential by the GM’s moves.
His money will matter at some point though, rest assured when this team does get the window open, they’ll either need to fill a hole that never got filled in the first place or injury caused and it’s then that he’ll need to step up. That’s the part nobody has faith in, I think most of you are smart enough to get the concept, and I also think most of you have seen this same scenario happen and he failed to do so.
So what’s different? Well, the system. See when you make the entirely logical decision to move an aging Andrew McCutchen, you’d like to think you have some prospects waiting in the wings, and if you do you don’t turn around and flip them for an aging pitcher along with a couple other top prospects.
You don’t trade Gerrit Cole for a bunch of “MLB ready” talent. The moves are about the ceiling of the prospects, not their basements.
It’s not fair to expect anyone to accept this as the right path and at the end of the day there is no PR effort that will work short of winning.
I mean, I respect the hell out of Bob Pompeani but…
That’s really what this all boils down to. Hold your breath for Bob Nutting to ignore his nature and MLBs economic structure or face the reality that Tampa has provided a map and they don’t have a patent.
We’ve been rebuilding forever it seems, maybe it’s time we do it right.
You don’t have to like it, hey I don’t even like watching Joe or Josh go and I’m painfully aware the team right this second got worse, but I’m 44 and don’t have a single memory of my team in the Series, this is where I slide my chips in.