Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

8-23-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

During a rebuild, you can expect some twists and turns. Some guys you thought were going to be part of the solution wind up never meeting the standard, others that you cast off for dead will rise up and make themselves indispensable. That said, some of the twists and turns we’ve seen this year seem more like self inflicted wounds than growing pains.

This year should be all about learning, and what I’ve learned more than anything else is that players keep coming from either outside the organization, or up from AAA, and they hit. John Nogowski, Anthony Alford, Hoy Park, Rodolfo Castro, there are even more. When the newness washed off and they hit a rough patch, the Pirates have seemingly been incapable of helping them out of it. I hate to harp on one guy, but at some point there is simply too much evidence on the bad side of the balance scale for Rick Eckstein.

It’s really this simple. The team either trusts their hitting coach or their scouts.

I figured I’d get that out of the way instead of making it a thought. Started feeling like every thought would have this in it if I didn’t.

1. So, What’s All This Polanco Stuff?

I’m confused. First, Greg was put on waivers, so just about everybody starts writing eulogies. Then Jason Mackey tweets out that sources have told him the Pirates wanted to give him a shot (slim to none) to get picked up by a playoff team, but should he not, they plan to put him right back on the active roster.

Not that a real reporter needs my backing but I’ve been told the same.

This is madness. The player has proven himself unworthy of being on an MLB roster. He’s below replacement level and there is slightly over a month left in the season.

Look, I like the guy, truly, one of the best humans in the game and specifically that locker room, but enough is enough. As a fan, I wasn’t happy to just keep shuffling him out there 5 times a week to begin with, but at least I could say, well they want to do the guy a solid and let him go with dignity.

Now, while this is being painted as an altruistic endeavor for the Bucs it’s still going to in my mind come across as, nobody wants you Greg. So what does it say when you again take him back if indeed they do that?

Sometimes it’s this simple, if you don’t want to be seen as a joke, don’t make moves like one.

This stuff happens in baseball all the time. The difference is this got leaked. You aren’t supposed to hear about it, but did. That’s so the player isn’t embarrassed. Now everyone thought he was gone because proper terms weren’t used by many and it leads to a situation where Greg is on waivers, starting in right field. The manager looks dumb, the GM looks dumb, and people get angry because they thought this chapter was closing.

On top of it they call up Michael Chavis and reinstate Alford, to make room Park and Castro are sent down.

Good luck selling that Buccos.

2. Speaking of WTF, This Whole Yoshi Tsutsugo Signing

He’s done fine, that’s not an issue. His power potential is super welcome, needed even. That said, unless there is a nod and wink agreement for after the season, it seems pretty weird to bring in a guy who will be a free agent this Winter.

So much so that I can’t wrap my head around any other explanation.

I’ve brought this up with team officials, heck I’ve even brought it up with fans and the consensus seems to be, hey, what’s the harm?

I agree, no harm no foul, just curious. If he had one more year of control, sweet. If they have some agreement in place, awesome.

I guess if anything, maybe I’m just tired of guessing. It’d be nice to just have a move make sense instead of presenting new questions.

3. New Bullpen Arm or Still Recovering?

Almost since Chad Kuhl debuted here in Pittsburgh, many have clamored for him to find his way to the bullpen. See when Chad is only pithing an inning or two out of the pen he has the ability to throw his stuff with maximum gusto. 97MPH isn’t out of the question and before TJ he even had 99-100 on occasion in his arm.

One thing not everyone picks up on his just how many good relievers were first starters, in fact, that’s the case with a vast majority. There’s no shame in carving out a 15 year bullpen career, and while we still don’t know if that’s what the Pirates plan for Chad, I think it might be in the team’s best interest to take that path.

Miguel Yajure, Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker, and Steven Brault should all be just about locks for the rotation next season with quite a few competing for the last spot including any free agent signings they might (ok should) acquire. That doesn’t leave an awful lot of room for Chad. He should probably be on the block anyway, so why not start to plan for life without him and potentially put him in position to increase his value as much as possible with this move.

4. David Bednar, Out Specialist

I’m happy to see David Bednar being used as the best pitcher in the bullpen instead of just a traditional Closer.

As many of you know, I’m not a fan of the closer role, I’d rather see my best pitch when it makes the most sense. If the heart of the order is due up in the 8th, hey, toss David out there. Why wait for the 9th that might never come?

Now, it would work a lot better if they had more options, but the premise is sound. It prevents your best arm from sitting sometimes days at a time waiting for a save situation and instead leverages your best asset when it matters.

Yes, yes, I’ve heard all about the special mentality it takes to pitch the 9th. Oh, I’ve also heard that bullpen pitchers won’t want this role if it always has them facing the toughest hitters. But this is how it used to be.

Baseball changes constantly, and this role returning to something more like this is a long time coming.

Now, maybe a team like the Pirates makes this easy for me to like. If I were a Brewers fan, perhaps I’d feel differently. They have a highly effective bullpen and I suppose that makes more sense for them to just stick Hader in the 9th. Even then, what if the 8th has 3 lefty’s due up? Wouldn’t it make more sense to toss Hader out there and Williams in the 9th?

Hey, either way, it hasn’t been a regular occurrence for me to say I agree with Derek Shelton, so I’ll just smile and take this one.

5. The Race for Worst

I don’t see the Pirates losing more games than Baltimore. That’s as far as I’ll go, but this series against Arizona sure could give them a bead on 2nd worst. The Pirates sure made a big splash out of having the first overall pick this year. The pick is great, the slot money even more so.

Point is, the Bucs will have a very high pick again, in a deeper talent pool near the top, at least as projected. They’ll get a good player, and they’ll get a nice pool again too. Having three seasons consecutively with a pick in the top 7 of the draft is the type of stuff that can really turn a franchise around.

The draft is great, but it’s not fast. When this shows up at the MLB level chances are picking very high is gone for a while, that’s why it’s so costly when you swing and miss when you get your shot.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: