Player Evaluation at Some Point Reaches a Conclusion

7-20-21 – By Gary Morgan

The last two years have been all about evaluation.

Players who were already here, players they wanted to bring in and try, ways of using them, you know, seeing what they had and deciding where to go from here.

That’s going to bring about things like what we saw yesterday with Kyle Crick being DFAd. I mean, we’ve seen countless guys survive the DFA and wind up back in AAA, some have even come full circle like Wilmer Difo.

The conversation really needs to start with honesty. Not who you’re a fan of. Not someone you think hasn’t had enough of a chance. Just honest evaluation of your own. Not emotional outbursts, real evaluation.

Look at Kyle Crick, not just his performance this season, how his time in Pittsburgh has gone and I’m not going to bury you with numbers here. Kyle came to the Pirates by way of the Andrew McCutchen deal, one that brought Bryan Reynolds as well. He stepped right in and looked like he could have been a lock future closer on this club back in 2018.

2019 started much the same but something started to shift. He started struggling with command, his velocity dropped which exasperated his problem with command. Let me explain why a bit more here. Without the velocity sitting upper 90’s, hitters were able to spit on his slider. As electric as it is, as crazy as the spin rate is, if you can’t control it with pinpoint accuracy to hit corners, you need to at least get swings and misses.

So hitters started waiting him out, making him throw his now less than stellar fastball, and hitting it hard when he missed in the zone.

Then there was the locker room fight. This is the cover people like to provide Kyle. See he punched a guy who deserved to be punched and while we all should assume it had nothing to do with what Vazquez was doing off the field (at least you better hope so, or else everyone in that room was complaisant) he was seen in a way as a folk hero.

Thing is, those issues I pointed out were happening before he busted his hand on a pedo’s face. He had other off field happenings, none bigger than the loss of his fraternal twin Kevin.

So here’s where we are, ready to start 2020, the velocity is still missing, he’s still missing his spots. In the spirit of evaluation, the Pirates took him into 2020 and tried to use him as a back of the pen guy, but injury took over. He would only play 7 games last season and in those 7 games looked like he had at least figured out how to adjust to his change in stuff. It was a positive step, one that gave the Bucs hope he’d continue to evolve in 2021.

So they entered this season thinking the same way, after all he didn’t get a real shot in 2020 to be evaluated, he still had crazy talent, give him a shot right?

This season, things started out well. Again the velocity wasn’t there, but the adjustments were. He made it work for him and for a month, looked like a fixture. Again, it fell off the table, to the point Derek Shelton could no longer find a justifiable reason to use him.

He’s out of options, he’s out of chances, and that’s the whole story.

This isn’t because he gave up one homerun. It’s not because they hate the guy. It’s because they evaluated him, hopefully in much more detail than I just did.

When you don’t have a good baseball team, you can’t hold on dearly to the fringes of that roster praying every bit of unrealized talent is suddenly going to emerge, sometimes you just have to realize the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Kyle is a guy who was going to be up for a decision next season anyway. Entering arbitration the Pirates needed to make a call here, and they did. If somehow he squeaks through the waiver wire and winds up back in AAA and they want to try to figure out how to help him manage what he has to work with, great. If he get’s picked up because someone else thinks they can help him unlock his talent, great. Point is you can’t keep trotting him out to your MLB mound hoping for different results when you have the stack of evidence I just laid out.

Is Kyle the only guy like this on the roster? Oh hell no. They have any number of guys the evaluation could end for very soon, maybe a few who have to change roles, but to have the rebuild pay off, at some point you have to start clearing away rubble and build on a flat surface.

I’m actually encouraged by this move. There were easier things to be done, instead what they showed us is there comes a point when the evaluation is over. There comes a point where how long he Pirates control a player, how cheap they are, how brilliant one or two of their skill sets look, at the end of the day, if you don’t perform, you don’t have a place on the roster.

Oh yes, there are absolutely others and their day will come too, but you needn’t rush it and more importantly, now we needn’t question it. It’s happening before our very eyes.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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