Excited about some of what you’ve seen in Spring so far? You’re not alone. Underwhelmed by all of it because it’s just Spring ball and you’re sticking to your original perception, you too aren’t alone.
The thing is, you don’t have to be 100% in either camp believe it or not, because grey areas exist out there in the world. Many of us have simply forgotten that we’re allowed to have thoughts that cross spectrums.
The most common question I get, and I suspect most writers for that matter, is what is the Pirates Record going to be this year. The easy answer is they’ll probably lose 90-100 games and we should focus on individual growth of the players that will be here when the team is officially on the upswing.
See, even if you’re optimistic, you have to keep in mind somewhere in the back of your mind that this team could overperform all April and May and the team should still probably look to move more players running thin on control. Moran, Gonzalez, Brault, Kuhl, Anderson, Goodwin, both Frazier’s and several bullpen arms could all be gone by the deadline.
If you believe in the plan, you don’t change it because you had some success.
For some, that’s going to confirm for them that this management team is no different than the last. For others it will instead signify that this management team isn’t delusional about where they are and the plan remains in effect.
In the past you could put the blame for this dichotomy squarely on the front office. They never treated us as reasoning, thinking fans who had the ability to absorb bad news or understand the complexities of modern team building.
Some of us can’t deal in general. Knowing that some of those players I mentioned could very well be on the move is met with cries that Bob wanted them to cut payroll further or that the Pirates are AAA for the league. The fact that it’s part of a pretty overtly stated plan doesn’t really resonate and we shouldn’t expect it to. When and if they win when they’re done building, the management will either be proven right or wrong.
When people predict the Pirates will lose 120 games even as you’re watching them pound the ball all over the yard in Spring it can be frustrating, but in your heart of hearts you know they might be right if the Bucs do indeed move a bunch of guys.
If you want optimism soaked in reality, try thinking about Kuhl and Brault being moved and instead of being replaced by two waiver claims, having Yajure and Crowe step in to a spot they almost won on merit in the first place. Instead of two starters entering their last year of control, you now have two with higher upside stepping in with 5 years each.
I can say, I don’t see this as a team that will only win 60 games, but I have to keep in mind this isn’t the team I’ll be watching all season if things go according to plan.
This roster is better constructed than it has been since 2017. Fewer stars, more depth. But this isn’t the stopping point. It’s hard to accept at times that even after all the moves that were made, the club isn’t done, but they aren’t.
I’m happy to see them performing well, it’s a whole lot more fun than the alternative, but don’t lose sight of the plan, and most importantly, don’t get baited into an argument about how many games they’ll win or lose because the team you’re defending fiercely is probably not representative of the team you’ll see here in August.
All that being said, part of the job for this team is to improve the players that are already here. So if you’ve already written a young player like Kevin Newman off because analytics guys told you he stunk, yeah, maybe there’s a guy who could work his way into being part of the story as we move forward. Maybe Brian Goodwin performs well and they see more value in keeping him around for a season or two than moving him for a top 30 guy. We also shouldn’t pretend there is no room for variables.
That’s the spice of life, and the fun of a baseball team. I keep talking about enjoying the journey, and I stress it again today because let’s face facts, even if they do everything perfectly and Bob spends money as Cherington and Williams have put forward, the destination of championship isn’t going to be something that happens annually.
I love the game, and I’m tied to this team. I’ve watched them stink and play really well. I’ve never seen them undertake (fully) the type of build they’ve started here and I openly rooted for it, I’m certainly not going to instead hope they stop short.
Enjoy it for what it is, a relatively young baseball team with more upside than we’re used to coming up quick.