Five Pirates Thoughts at Five 2-22-21

Today is the first full team workout in Bradenton and while more players than you’d think were already there, today it becomes official. It’s exciting every season, no matter what I think the outcome of the season will be, that’s the renewed hope, or at least hope that you see a bit of promise each Spring delivers.

Let’s dig in and have some fun talking Buccos!

1. You See What They Want You to See

When you watch clips from Pitchers and Catchers working out, many were through the roof to see Ke’Bryan Hayes already there working out. Make no mistake, he didn’t have to be there and he’s to be commended for wanting to get back to work and dive in. That said, he wasn’t the only one, he just happens to be who they want you to see doing it.

That’s not to take anything away from Mr. Hayes, again, he’s to be commended for going the extra mile, but last week was all PR, all the time. Do be careful to take too much from it. In other words, don’t assume he’s hitting cause he showed up and put in work early, while another guy isn’t for the opposite reason. First, you don’t know who was there, and with no media present, almost nobody does. Second, it’s a couple days getting in some cage work which most of them are doing anyway, just not there.

2. Promote-less in Seattle

Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Logan Gilbert are two top tier prospects for the Mariners and I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but they plan to manipulate their service time in Seattle. We knew this if we’re honest, it happens every year, on just about every team and it’s the dirty secret that also happens to be the worst kept secret in the industry.

Well, it turns out having a poorly kept secret while holding out for plausible deniability is preferable to hearing Kevin Mathers the Mariners Team President tell the absolute truth to the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club on a Zoom call.

Kevin has a history of doing some distasteful things, but I’m not getting into that, this is just about baseball for me and I’ll leave that to people much more familiar.

I can’t express how damning some of those soundbites will be come CBA time.

He didn’t stop there, he commented on the free agent market and an overall philosophy of waiting for some of the 180+ free agents to come hat in hand to the Seattle begging for a place to work.

Another example of people claiming they want to hear the truth, until they do.

3. The Devil You Know

I find some things very interesting in Pirates fandom. One of them that always strikes me is how quickly we tend to decide we’ve seen enough of a guy the Pirates drafted while at the same time we’re willing to give endless shots to other team’s failed prospects.

For instance, Kevin Kramer and Will Craig, have never really been able to crack the lineup and based on that coupled with their age they’re not even considered having a chance to make the team. There’s no outcry. Nobody is screaming to get a look at them. Yet when the Pirates signed Brian Goodwin and Todd Frazier the fan base went nuts yelling that it better not cost Anthony Alford or Phillip Evans a shot.

Why?

I mean, I have nothing against either of those guys, but sincerely, Will Craig and Evans have much more in common than they have differences. One is out of mind, the other is someone you can’t fathom denying opportunity.

I mean is 26 too old? Or is it just too old if the Pirates drafted him?

And it doesn’t apply evenly. Erik Gonzalez has never benefited from that kind of grace, fans have been trying to get rid of him since he was acquired. Hell, Kevin Newman actually put up tremendous numbers in 2019 and he too is not remotely expected to be in the picture here as many prefer to force feed opportunity to Cole Tucker. It’s weird.

If you have a reason and want to explain, hit me up.

4. We Still Might Not Know the Entire Team

As Craig wrote last week, when Ben Cherington speaks, perhaps we should start to take him at face value. Yesterday in his exclusive sit down with Dejan at DK Pittsburgh Sports, and it ‘s a tremendous piece, he mentioned leaving a few spots open on the Spring Training roster in order to bring in more players should anyone peak their interest.

I’d normally just kinda toss this type of comment out as GM speak, but I’m starting to learn this GM doesn’t just say things for effect. Specifically we may be looking at another veteran pitcher and I don’t think the Spring timeline will really matter in this regard.

He also mentioned we could still be in for a trade or two, in fact this could be how they acquire said veteran pitcher.

The bottom line is, just because the players are there, doesn’t mean the front office is done making noise. He could even be looking for some NRI’s from other clubs who have opt outs if they don’t make the MLB squad to pick off very late in Spring. There is no event or timeline that takes the laser focus off talent acquisition.

5. “We’re Going to Win”

Derek Shelton uttered those words last week when talking about his excitement to watch this young team grow. I saw some fans calling him on it like the opposite is something that can be said. No coach is going to say we’re going to stink and nothing I try could possibly change it. No coach is going to say 75% of this team won’t be here when we’re good.

There is truth telling, and then there is a coach talking to the media.

If you’re honest with yourself, this is what you want your coach to say. It’s also what you want him to project to his players. They’re all smart people, they know they don’t have a roster that can hang with half the league, but if you start out with a defeatist tone it certainly won’t create an environment where improvement and learning thrive. Instead it just creates a toxic locker room filled with finger pointing and those who believe themselves part of the solution resenting those who aren’t.

It creates “welcome to hell”. And that’s just not something I personally want to revisit.

Question of the Week

First, Scott is one of our original readers, all the way back to the SI days, so we are truly grateful he is still with us over here.

I agree Scott, but looking back to last season, the league didn’t reach agreement on expanded playoffs and the universal DH until late in July, right before the pseudo season began. In other words, they aren’t afraid to allow the players to plan and train all Spring for one thing, only to have the regular season be something else.

In fact, they flatly said when the agreement was signed regarding health and safety protocols for the 2021 season that they were keeping the door open for negotiating separately on these items.

There is want to and for that matter need to many to get this done. Many managers are already concerned that even workhorse pitchers topped out around 70 innings last year, so reducing stress on pitchers even in this insignificant way is popular. The league and for that matter the players want the extended playoffs too, problem is, the owners want to keep all the treasure gained.

It’s ridiculous they haven’t decided yet. It’s understandable how it’s come to this. And finally, it’s going to continue to be a topic until the first pitch against the Cubs.

Here’s a really good read on the subject from just a couple days ago. https://www.yahoo.com/now/mlb-keeps-dh-expanded-playoffs-170027389.html

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

2 thoughts on “Five Pirates Thoughts at Five 2-22-21

    1. Realistic is a funny word because I’m quite sure what he did in 20 is realistic to him. For me, 15-20 HR, .280+, 350+ OPS. Somewhere in that range or better. Make no mistake, the league will push back.

      Liked by 1 person

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