Over the years it has become a tradition, especially when we are hosting visitors from out of town, for myself and my family to board one of the boats in the Gateway Clipper Fleet to get from Station Square to PNC Park when attending a Pittsburgh Pirates game. Not only is it a completely unique experience, it is also a great way to see the city from a different point of view.
Each time I have done this, as we make the turn around the Fountain at Point State Park, me eyes are drawn past the approaching Fort Duquesne Bridge to the place where memories of watching countless Pirates games are held. So, it should come as no surprise that whenever I consider any issue or topic concerning the Pirates, as a well as those around Major League Baseball, I am mentally taken back to this place in time, just before we round the bend.
Sometimes the subject matter I am thinking about is presented in two opposing arguments, much like the Monongahela and Allegheny coming together to form the Ohio; while other times it is a singular point of misinformation, not necessarily done knowingly, that is presented regularly across multiple platforms. Most often it is just general opinions or observations concerning the state of the Pittsburgh Pirates Organization and MLB; past, present and future.
Prior to blogging and podcasting I would most likely keep a lot of this to myself, except when I was at a Pirates game, sitting down to have a beer with or relaxing around a campfire with friends and family. However, since I am obviously apart of this community now, I thought it might be a good time to share some of topics and issues that are on my mind; which undoubtedly will evolve and change over time.
- The official announcement from the BBWAA came down on Tuesday that no candidate had received votes on 75% of the ballots cast, which meant that 2021 would be the first empty class for the Hall of Fame since 2013, and the ninth time overall. Both before and since the broadcast differing views have been discussed, mostly concerning Bonds, Clemens and to a lesser degree Schilling, with the PED use of the first two being on full display. Now I am not going to try to change your opinion on this specific topic. My only hope is that when it comes to voters, that they remain consistent in how they choose to use this vote; and not in the Larry Walker type of way, where some chose to vote for him after being convinced of his accomplishments at Coors Field versus on the road. This is more about holding a firm stance of either none of them get in or they all get in, which will be challenged yet again as Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz appear on the ballot for the first time, while Bonds and Clemens get their final shots before they find themselves, and ultimately their Hall of Fame fates, in hands of the Veterans Committee.
- As a self proclaimed prospect junkie, I study information from multiple sites and sources on the subject, especially as it pertains to the players within the Pirates Farm System. Now I know that we all probably have our favorite place to go for prospect projections and insight on the up and coming players in Minor League Baseball, and probably think they are the best. But, what makes them the best? It sure can’t be success rate. In general, the majority of sites, and I am talking about the big ones like Fangraphs, Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, don’t have a defined gap in correctively predicting what prospects will make it and those that won’t or the ones that will have the biggest impact versus those that will just be “normal” everyday players; even though some are more risk averse, others are bullish and the remaining few fall in between. If you like one site over the other it is probably based on one or more of the following factors: 1) The writers and/or evaluators. 2) The price of accessing information. 3) Their rankings of your team and/or favorite players. 4) The amount of data available.
- If a salary cap is put in place, it automatically includes a salary floor. The system that is currently in place has a competitive balance tax is a by its definition a “soft” cap with surtaxes in place if it is exceeded. There is no salary floor in this system, only a standard as to how a portion of the revenue sharing must be spent. For a better than I could ever do explanation on the subject, please read Dejan Kovacevic’s article on the subject.
- September call-ups may look a little different that it has in previous years. Due to the unexpectedly strange 2020 season, the new rules for roster expansion were not put into place. Up through 2019, active rosters could be expanded to include the entire 40-man. As long as 2021 goes off without too much of a hitch, the new rule of allowing teams to only go from 26 to 28 players will be put in place. This could limit the amount of the usual September promotions that have occurred in previous years.
- Just because someone is a trade candidate it doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed to be on the move. There has to be more than one interested party, and no the Pirates do not count as that more than one; it always takes two, or hopefully three or four, to tango to drive up the price. According to John Heyman, Frazier may have someone other than Pittsburgh considering his services for 2021.
- At this point everyone probably knows my opinions surrounding signing free agents to flip them for prospects, which boils down to the fact that it can be effective, but it is not as simple as it sounds. So, for now I will just remind you that International Bonus Pool Space is not available to be traded during the current signing period.
As a baseball fan, of course there are other topics on my mind and there always will be; I just can’t stop thinking, and hoping, that I will get to be back on one of those boats headed to a Pirates game at some point during the 2021 season because I can’t even begin to explain how much I have missed it.