8-24-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
When you write about a team daily you get to the point where you can think of ten different things to write about almost every day. In fact that’s part of why I started the Five Pirates Thoughts at Five feature here on the site. Craig and I will often bounce ideas off each other, some we’ll even start to frame out, and while we trust our ability to be fair on a subject, sometimes bluntly, most of you aren’t ready to hear it.
Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t afraid to give you bad news, but sometimes the juice simply isn’t worth the aggravation if you will. So I thought, let’s go ahead and get all these naughty thoughts out of the way in one Top Ten formatted list. This can be fun if you let it.
10. This Roster Won’t Look Much Different to Start 2022
By the time all is said and done, I expect most of this roster to return next season. Doesn’t mean they won’t improve, doesn’t mean they’ll stay all season, doesn’t even mean there won’t be new faces. But seismic changes to the roster, not yet.
9. Kevin Newman is Very Likely the Starting SS Next Season
It hasn’t been a good season for Kevin, but somehow he is still a positive WAR player, which is more than most on the roster can say. The glove plays and unless Marcano has one hell of a Spring, I don’t see him being unseated.
8. Ke’Bryan Hayes is a Good Player, Just Not What He Showed in 2020
We warned you he couldn’t sustain being Ted Williams. He’s going to be a hell of a player, but those expectations were never fair, and if anything perhaps extension talks might be a bit more productive moving forward.
7. Attendance Doesn’t Effect Bob Nutting’s Wallet Nearly as Much as Some of You Think
It certainly helps the team make money when the place is sold out, but it hardly buries them when nobody goes. I’m not saying this to convince you to give up your little crusade to not give Bob your money, but he makes far more from the TV deal and sharing than tickets. Do you, it just doesn’t matter much.
6. Oneil Cruz Still Might Not Be Ready to Begin Next Season
Injury robbed him of some time, but we still don’t know where he’s going to play defense and he still has work to do on his approach at the plate. His power potential is there, but a poorly developed Cruz could look too similar to Polanco to just force it.
5. Quinn Priester isn’t Likely to Be the Top Pitching Prospect in Baseball
It was exciting to hear Baseball America project Quinn as potentially being the top pitching prospect in the game prior to this season beginning, but make no mistake, that was based on performing at a certain level. He’s done well, but not to the level of reaching that designation. You should still be plenty excited for him, but the national accolades will have to wait just a bit.
4. Going .500 in 2022 is a Stretch
They could certainly overperform or have a bunch of guys step in and change the story, but I wouldn’t bet on it. They’ll finish 2022 looking like a different team in many ways because they don’t have a ton of guys who’ll be ready to start out of Spring in the pipeline, but they have a bunch close enough to factor in post All Star Break. I’d expect a top 10 pick one more time before this gets really fun.
3. As Poorly as He Has Finished His Career, Gregory Polanco is an International Signing Victory (Sorry Craig, We Swore We’d Never Mention It)
The draft is a crapshoot in many ways, multiply that by a thousand for International Signings. Watching a 16 year old play what amounts to pick up baseball and determining if they have the goods to make the show one day is incredibly hard. So to have them get here and play for 7 years, yeah, you’ll take that. The Pirates are certainly not pleased with his contract now, but if you get this from anyone signed at that age you have to see it as a win.
2. Positive Change in the CBA Will Only Come With a Lockout
I mean this sincerely, nothing you as a small market fan would consider positive will happen without a lock out. Changes might happen but they’ll almost assuredly be concessions by the owners. Things like a reduction in arbitration years from 3 to 2 might happen, and while I’m all for it, a change like that without a cap will only serve to make a daunting task harder to pull off. Even what the owners proposed a Luxury cap at 180 million and floor at 100 will only create bloated contracts for replacement level players. you can dream that the Pirates would sign a 30 mil a year guy, but 12-14 other teams would need to add payroll too.
1. Henry Davis, Nick Gonzales and Whoever They Draft Next Season All Need to Hit
One swing and miss on any of these three picks and the franchise will feel it. You can’t draft that high, swing and miss, and just move on like it didn’t happen. This club is all out of players they can move for top end prospects, ok, they’re out of guys they want to move for high end prospects. That means from here on out, the heavy lifting largely will fall on the draftees.
Now, I’m ready for the hate, have at it. Let’s Go Bucs.