We begin another week here at Inside the Bucs Basement and real baseball is ramping up this week as pitchers and catchers report for their first workout on Wednesday. Normal is a relative term but it figures to be a lot closer than 2020 was at the very least.
Let’s dig in and have some fun talking baseball.
1. Trade, Trade, Everywhere a Trade
The Pirates obviously are moving assets for prospects. Build, rebuild, tear down, blow up, whatever. Point is they’re actively engaged in it. Some for the life of them can’t fathom why anyone was kept on the club and constantly call for trades of everyone with a pulse who has worn the P on their hat.
I get it, I really do. When you recognize what your team is doing it almost becomes easier to root for the band aid removal approach. Get them all traded and let’s see the kids right?
Well, the fact is, many of these players are themselves ‘kids’ and the younger players you’d rather see, simply aren’t ready to contribute.
The club could still make a move of two, but be realistic and as I always say, follow the control. Rodriguez, maybe a Moran or Stallings could all be pried away from the Pirates, but at some point, it’s ok to hit pause, let the players play, build value and allow the youngsters to infuse themselves naturally.
And, no, it’s not about this team being competitive now or anything like that. It’s more about the understanding that trading a player like Reynolds or Newman could easily be shooting yourself in the foot. You might get a nice package back, but let’s be honest, getting someone who performs like Reynolds did in 2019 in return who is ready by 2024 is wrought with hope and questions.
At some point, it’s ok to sit back and watch. Plenty of time to discuss moving more players as the season rolls on.
All that said, Adam Frazier still makes a ton of sense, more on that later.
2. Phillip Evans’ Versatility Gives Him an Edge
When decisions get close one thing a player can do to separate themselves is to become as versatile as possible. Phil can play everywhere but Center, Short, and Catcher and I bet it’s not because he’s unwilling to try.
His history with the Mets and Pirates amounts to all of 93 at bats but largely, he’s performed well at the plate and proven himself pretty capable at every position he’s been asked to patrol.
Baseball clubs do well to have a guy like this around, and if Evans has one thing working against him, it’s that he isn’t the only one. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Pirates plan for him in 2021, with his status still set at pre-arb and the entirety of 2021 still counting as MLB rookie status, he’s got plenty of control left, but he also turns 29 this year.
3. The Dodgers are So Great! We Should All Admire Them and Their Coronation
Jon for those of you who don’t know him, one of the national baseball writers with his head in the sand. To him the Dodgers just want it more.
I’ve never shied away from being critical of how Bob Nutting takes a bad situation and makes it worse by spending far less than he could. But the Pittsburgh Pirates quite simply couldn’t do this even if they planned to sell literally everyone the next year. Nor could approximately 20 other clubs.
This doesn’t guarantee the Dodgers a World Championship in 2021, nothing really does. Baseball is resistant to address the disparity in their league and Jon is in no way the only national writer running constant cover for them.
I also don’t hate the Dodgers. They’ve built most of this club through shrewd moves as well as drafting and developing better than just about anyone else. Being able to keep them is what sets them apart. Being able to add in a Mookie Betts and Trevor Bauer on top is what sets them apart.
Imagine rooting for a ball club that loses a player like Joc Pederson and quite literally it is just as impactful as the Pirates letting Jose Osuna walk.
A club that can sign a 37 year old to a two year contract without fear that the cliff is near because it’s just money.
One last thing in my rant. Honestly, did you even know the owner of the Dodgers name before you saw it in that tweet?
4. Depth Has Improved
The overall talent level on the MLB squad for the Pirates has absolutely taken a hit this year in an effort to bring in more prospects. There’s no disputing that, but the overall depth of the organization has potentially given them more ability to weather another storm of injury.
The bullpen alone will leave some very capable pitchers off the 26-man this year with real talent coming soon. In fact some of those young players have legitimate chances to make the club out of Spring. That’s the beauty of having so few commitments.
Last season when injuries started piling up the Bucs were pouring over waiver wires to find anyone with a pulse to come in here and eat five or six innings. In 2021 should they experience the same type of difficulty, this team is much more prepared to bring in guys with pedigree and experience.
The Bullpen is going to be one of the most interesting storylines this Spring.
Even the catching position has been beefed up to the point should Jacob Stallings god forbid have to sit for a couple weeks or a month, the drop off wouldn’t be near as precipitous as it was in 2020. Small, but important.
5. Bounce Him Around
This was the description of what we should expect to see of Oneil Cruz this Spring provided by Derek Shelton. Cruz is a top 50 prospect in MLB and he made it listed as a third baseman. Certainly not going to be his landing spot in MLB unless something awful happens to Ke’Bryan Hayes this season. We’ll finally start to see what the club might have in mind for Cruz, but none of it will matter if the bat doesn’t finish rounding out.
That’s focus number one this season. If the bat comes along, play him anywhere he won’t embarrass the club, if it doesn’t, take your sweet time.
Question of the Week
OK, so this one wasn’t intended to be a question of the week, but it’s jut too important to pass up.
Kim McGuinness on Facebook asks, “Why does everyone insist that Frazier will be traded???”
Some trade targets make sense because they carry value and can return something that continues to build the talent level of the Pirates prospect pool.
Some are running out of control and the club needs to decide if they’re part of the future or ultimately not going to be here long term.
Others still are preventing the club from getting eyes on younger players with more upside who need a place to play.
Then there are players like Adam Frazier who meet all three criteria. The bottom line, he isn’t an extension candidate if only because there is no chance he beats out the players coming and some of those prospects will provide much cheaper bench options as the club allows competition to dictate who plays where.
That’s why. Because everything from roster construction to the goals of the club long term make more sense with Adam in another uniform.
Have a great week everyone!