Dynasties, All Stars and ETA’s…Oh My!

Friday Focus

9-10-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

When you go through two seasons like this, and everyone and their mother has shifted their gaze on the minor leagues, of course things were going to shift to those players being in Pittsburgh.

Thing is, wishing won’t make it so.

Looking at the rotation in Greensboro and expecting 4 members of the rotation to reach Pittsburgh as an intact unit is about as likely as me winning the Power Ball, and I don’t play. To pretend that means a dynasty for Pittsburgh is a sure thing, is beyond nuts.

Some will say, what’s the harm in a little optimism? Nothing, I’m pretty optimistic too, but when you do this sort of thing, when you are trying to forecast how things will go as this process plays out, I think you have to have a bit of responsibility about it.

If I tell people what I’m seeing in the minors adds up to 3 runs at championships, why would you trust me when it’s dead wrong? I’ll put it this way, I wouldn’t even predict the Dodgers are poised to be a dynasty, not in baseball.

Being realistic about what we’re watching may not be as fun, or what you want to hear, but I personally would always prefer the truth. Let me take in the facts, process it and figure out how to feel about it from there.

So let’s look at what we really have here, right now.

A very bad MLB level ball club, with very little at the AAA level ready to help next season, even if they were, they’d be rookies and most rookies, well they play like rookies. They hit walls, they still have things to work on, they recover from the biggest jump in surrounding talent they’ve ever experienced in their careers.

Next season, AAA will become more of what we traditionally would like to see a step away from the Bigs. For me, that’s where I leave things. Some of them will get a crack next year, some will stall out.

This is why you don’t worry about where Tucapita Marcano will play for this club what with Diego Castillo, Liover Peguero, Oneil Cruz and more on the way too. I mean how many short stops can they have right? First, if all of them hit, the club will find a place for all of them to play. Second the likelihood that all of them become MLB quality players isn’t high.

That’s reality, and while I’m not predicting doom for any one of those players, I’m also not predicting each of them is the next HOF talent to come along.

You do a build like this and you have to stop worrying about these guys blocking each other, at least until it’s an actual problem. More than anything you have to stop convincing yourselves every prospect in the top 30 will be here playing an integral role. I’m not sure how you’ve been a Pirates fan and believed that in the first place.

I mean, you’re watching Mitch Keller right now struggle like hell to find his sea legs at the MLB level. Maybe he just isn’t that good, maybe the development system failed him, maybe he never had to have more spin or movement in the minors but is now seeing it’s 100% needed at this level. Either way, right there, is walking, talking evidence that the rankings aren’t an iron clad contract for success.

Again, I think Ben Cherington has done a good job of not stopping at some mythological roster he’s created and needs to grow, so I’m not worried about the Pirates plan here. I’m worried about an already beaten to hell fan base getting themselves worked into a lather about a future roster that probably doesn’t look exactly like anyone sees it right now.

You won’t care if they win mind you, but some of these guys failing is part of the process.

If this club gets to a point where they actually struggle to find a spot for a really solid prospect that’s the goal. Depth, options, real position battles. Guys underachieving at the MLB level looking over their shoulders at surging push from AAA. That’s what makes a club like this work. It’s also something we didn’t see even during the run early last decade. The team was the team largely, with not much coming up beyond it. Think of what a significant injury to AJ or Frankie would have done to those runs.

You’ll know when it’s happening.

When you look at the roster and actually find yourself ok with that AAA guy staying down there for a while because there isn’t a place for him to play, you’ll know they’ve gotten this thing to a point where you can start saying “built”.

That’s not next year, it just isn’t. Now, I’m a firm believer they need to put a better product on the field next year, and I’ll write to that as the off season progresses, but wishing hard is simply not going to speed up a process that was and is slow.

If you want lied to, I guess there are plenty of writers out there who’ll have no issue telling you Nick Gonzales could be the opening day starter in 2022. That just isn’t me, I’d rather prepare you for seeing Kevin Newman start at short.

This isn’t MLB 2021 The Show for PS4, it’s not fantasy baseball, it’s a real and complicated process that involves ups and downs, injuries and setbacks, huge games and hitless streaks. Stacking prospects is an insurance policy. They don’t do it to avoid paying anyone, they do it in the hopes enough of them require payment that it matters.

Baseball is a hell of a game and prospect development is even more complicated. I advise you to keep an open mind about who makes it and matters, it might just not be who you had in mind.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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