Five Pirates Thoughts at Five 5-17-21

It’s an off day today, and when as a writer you see that as a needed break from action, it kinda puts into perspective how the players must feel. Calling up Miguel Yajure for a spot start pushed the rotation back a day and coupled with the off day today bought even more for a couple guys. That’s something the Pirates plan to do more of this season but I’m not sure how many more times Yajure can come up here for a spot and impress before he just stays. That last outing had to make them think.

1. Prospect Optimism

There are just a ton of exciting things going on in the Pirates minor league depths. That’s a fact, but when you see a kid do something exciting in Bradenton, you really must temper that excitement with realism. In an effort to pump up some of these performances and players, some are ignoring the truth. Most of these guys won’t ever make it.

Even some of the guys you were told happened to be sure fire, will stall at some point. Every single year the dream ends for some guys and begins for others. That doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about individual performance of course, but you also have to resist the urge to believe the search is over for who’s going to play a position 4 years from now. That’s just not how it works, that’s why there is no such thing as ‘too many’ at a position or ‘too much’ pitching. It doesn’t happen, and nobody knows this reality more than the players.

You may think you’re just being a nice guy or gal by pretending that single A guy who has been at that level for 2 seasons has a shot because he struck out the side in a game, but in that effort, you’re actually diminishing just how damn hard a journey it is to become a major league player.

2. Turning a Corner?

Mitch Keller faced Deja vu on Sunday afternoon. He pitched 3 solid innings and ran into trouble in the 4th. He didn’t get hit hard, but the Giants soft served themselves into a 2nd and 3rd situation with nobody out.

In just the previous outing, he went 3 strong and blew up in the 4th, on Sunday he put a foot down, and struck out the side. Pumping his fist and punching his glove.

Before the strikeouts, Jacob Stallings noticed what was happening. He saw the change in his demeanor, he saw him missing locations, and he quickly sprung out of his crouch and headed out to put a stop to it.

This doesn’t always work of course, but this time it had the desired effect, and to his credit Mitch went after what he needed to have.

That was a foot down. That was belief, in his catcher, his stuff, his ability. That was maturation.

He won’t have an ascent that comes with no steps back, but this is a very real and live look at what it looks like turning talent into effective talent. Mitch Keller being successful is a feather that Oscar Marin needs, and Ben Cherington’s organization and training philosophy predicted.

3. Asking Too Much from the Pitchers

The Pirates pitching has been really good, full stop. Sure there have been hiccups, but by in large the pitching has been there. The bats need to chip in much more.

This is a theme across the league this season as hitting has struggled league wide, but the main difference is that the Pirates simply don’t have enough power to score anyway. Hey, they weren’t predicted to lose a bunch of games based on believe the lineup would shine, but struggling isn’t the same as inept.

There are far too many games where it looks like they simply aren’t in the game because they can’t get any traction.

Yesterday the lineup had Alex Wood sitting at 40 pitches through two innings, then completely changed how they were attacking him. Next thing you know, he’s still pitching in the 8th.

The lineup needs to do more, and unfortunately what they need are more professional hitters. That will come a little from injuries clearing up, and if you want a little optimism, if they keep pitching like this AND get Moran and Hayes back in there, they could have some fun.

4. When the Plan Takes a Hit

It’s hard for me to see the Pirates heading into this season not planning on moving Chad Kuhl and or Steven Brault, but both of them have suffered injuries and Kuhl didn’t look great before he went on the shelf. Trading either of them in season might not work this year. That changes some things I’m sure for the Pirates. They have a rotation with Keller, Anderson, Brubaker, Crowe and Cahill, I’m just about positive they planned on Cahill being more of a bullpen option and Crowe not being here at all at this point.

Now that things went this way, the club will have to adjust how they approach things moving forward.

For instance, maybe Chad Kuhl is now a better option for the bullpen, maybe that plays out for Brault as well. Maybe Cahill is the guy who moves once Kuhl has his arm built back up. Let’s not forget Jose Soriano the Pirates rule five selection who has been working his rehab from Tommy John will also be here soon.

One thing is for sure, if the Pirates had a predetermined plan for how this would all play out, it’s broken now.

Super interested to see how they handle all the moving parts without losing anyone they actually think has a future here.

5. No Masks at PNC

Yes, yes, I know, if you’re vaccinated.

You all know that’s not what is going to happen. This isn’t a political statement as much as a reality check. Not everyone was going to get vaccinated, and some like me who had COVID, probably don’t even need it, although I did anyway.

The point is, unless we’re going to be commanded to wear masks forever, these types of things were always going to come up. If you’ve done what you’re supposed to do, and you’ve gotten vaccinated, it’s not your problem, and more to the point, it isn’t the Pirates problem either.

The CDC has decided we’ve reached the threshold where this is safe, well, safe enough. If you want a vaccine it’s out there. If you don’t, you’ve made a personal choice and I’m not telling you one way or another which is right. But you did make a choice. From what we know, that choice can’t hurt everyone, just others who made the same decision.

Sorry if this sounds cold, but it isn’t my job to protect people from themselves.

Back to life, happily without a mask more and more often as other businesses start to make the same decision.

Excited to start greeting people with a smile again instead of a salute or wink.

6. Late Breaking News Bonus. Ildemaro Vargas, the Newest Pirate

The Pirates claimed Ildemaro off waivers from the Chicago Cubs. To make room, Troy Stokes Jr. was DFA’d. Again, DFA doesn’t 100% mean we’ve seen the last of him, but he will be exposed to waivers and if nobody claims him he’ll be assigned back to AAA Indianapolis and simply no longer be on the 40-man roster.

I liked what I saw from Stokes in limited action, but let’s not act like they just released Barry Bonds. I hope he clears waivers but if not, they have 5 or 6 players almost just like him, in fact, Vargas himself isn’t much different.

This is his 4th organization, Arizona, Chicago, Minnesota and now Pittsburgh. He’s 29 years old and has done very little in his stops. He has a career 0.2 WAR in 305 at bats he is a career .246 hitter. The guy is mainly a middle infielder, but has played some 3rd and corner outfield.

Meh, I mean what can I say? I also question the need for the move, if you want a controllable infielder who hasn’t ever hit, why not just call up Tucker?

I’m sure clarification will be provided, but unless someone is traded or on his death bed, I’m also sure it won’t satisfy most people in their hunt for understanding.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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