9-13-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
The Pirates have entered that part of the season that is far too familiar in these parts, irrelevancy due to the NFL fully getting in motion, coupled with not being in the conversation themselves in the first place.
This isn’t a boo hoo pay attention to the Pirates plea, instead it’s a reminder that when the team performs, there is plenty of room for both in the picture, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. Want to be relevant, play like it.
In other words, it’s not on the fans to find their way to care through it. All that being said, there are still plenty of you out there who do, and we’ll keep covering them with the same gusto we always have, win, lose or draw.
1. Hayes at Lead Off?
I mean, it’s hard to see this as a long term answer, but it’s certainly jump started Ke’Bryan. The Pirates have no answer to lead off that he’s blocking in any way but you have to imagine when this team is successful he’s hitting lower in the lineup.
That said, Derek Shelton has worked with some managers who treat the lineup in very non traditional ways like Joe Maddon, I mean, if Kyle Schwarber can hit leadoff, Ke’ certainly can. In fact, most of what Shelton does is being done in bits and pieces all over the league, but we as Pirates fans have had 10 years of old school management preceding his arrival to compare and contrast with.
I’m not here to tell you it’s better or worse, at least not today, but I am here to say, we’ve been largely trapped in time while the league morphed behind our backs. Modern baseball coaching has caught many of us completely off guard. Again, I’m not telling you it’s better, just maybe not one guy being stupid.
Expect to see even more ‘weird’ moves as we continue this process, and expect Shelton to be the source at least for another season.
Watching a game here and there out of market won’t show you this, watch an entire week of games from one specific team, like Tampa and you’ll see some things that look mighty familiar. You know, with the exception of the fact they seem to work for the other team.
2. Pigeon Holed Promotions
The AAA season matches up with MLB this year, end time wise and we have been told we may see some promotions from AA after the Curve’s season ends. That’s about all we’ll see, and I’m not sure why they’d wait if indeed it’s in the plans.
There is not much to be gained by continuing to play in Altoona as the playoffs aren’t in the picture, and they’ve already taken things past the period where there’s room for adjustment to the bump for most guys.
There are any number of guys we could question, Rodolfo Castro has officially had two cracks at MLB and hasn’t set foot in Indianapolis yet for instance.
The way I see this playing out is a rash of players winding up on IL in MLB and AAA with AA used as reinforcement to finish this thing out.
Now, I think they could have been a bit smarter with what they’re doing here, at least could have used the time a bit better to see if some guys might have more of a chance to get their feet wet before we head into an off season that’s going to see some of them prepare for a Spring Training that for the first time really matters to them.
Oh they all matter, but they also don’t always mean they have a real shot of breaking through, that’s where this really means something. Sure would be nice to say you have 2 months of AAA experience vs none or a couple weeks come Spring.
This isn’t the end of the world mind you, it’s just something I guess I hoped would change a bit. It’d be different if there weren’t any players who have earned a bump.
3. Engagement is Earned
As I said in the opener today, it’s not on the fans to fight their way into being interested in a team that loses 100+ games. There is a lot of positive to point to in the minors, but again, that’s not on fans to go find.
The Pirates have set forth on a path that should create a much more competitive team and when that day comes it again won’t be on the fans to go back and tell the story of how they got here.
The point is, to some of you who will follow intently throughout this entire process, you’re going to run into a bunch of people somewhere along the line who didn’t, and more than that, don’t give a rat’s can how it happened.
They aren’t going to want to hear how the plan worked, they won’t care about the economic efficiency with which it was pulled off. Hell they might even still be talking about how quickly it’s all going to fall apart again.
We spend so much time worrying about how other people do or don’t watch, we fail to observe the near empty stands all around us. When they win, the place will be packed, 15,000 people will tell you they were there the whole time.
It’s not like we haven’t lived through this before. Just remember, when it does again, it’s not your fight. No, that’s the team’s burden.
4. Preventative Measures Become Self Fulfilling Prophecy
All season long the Pirates have played fast and loose with the IL, especially when it comes to the pitching staff. They all but told us this would be the case early on when they quoted a large figure for the number of pitchers they planned on using this season.
Part of me wonders, has it worked? Or did we simply wind up in the same place anyhow?
Babying pitchers didn’t help Brubaker avoid running out of steam, and we’re all sitting here hoping his injury isn’t something that will prevent him from a normal off season.
Thing is, and I admit, there isn’t anything scientific about what I’m proposing here, but I can’t help but think that by trying to protect everyone, they’ve actually created more stress than they prevented. Nobody gets fully stretched out, nobody reaches their potential, kick the can of “they only ever threw this many innings” straight into next year.
Look, all I’m saying is maybe nobody is improving because they aren’t being forced to fight through their deficiencies. Maybe a guy with two good pitches hasn’t bothered refining a third because they have no prayer of seeing the 6th inning or a 3rd time through the lineup anyhow. Maybe 85 pitches through 4 innings is the norm because that’s been a-ok anyway. If you head into every start knowing after 65 or 95 pitches you’re done through five regardless, what’s the incentive to be more efficient?
I fully accept that I might be completely full of it here, but man I can’t shake it.
5. Roberto Clemente Day
I love that the Pirates will again be celebrating Roberto Clemente Day and wearing 21 on the 15th.
I hear all your calls to retire the number of the Great One league wide, and honestly, I’m torn. Part of me would love to see him recognized league wide, he was such an important figure to so many Latin players all over the league, not just Pittsburgh, but to me, man I kinda selfishly want to keep that for Pittsburgh.
Having Roberto as part of our heritage is special. I’m all for retiring the number but I’d really like to see ONLY the Pirates get to wear the number once a year.
I’m open to hearing different opinions here, after all, I’m just some white guy who never actually saw the man play, maybe there’s an argument that because of what he means to others he should be honored league wide. All I can say is, selfishly, there isn’t much the Pirates are recognized for, I’m not anxious to see other teams stake claim.
Regardless, let’s enjoy the day, remember the man, and more than anything, appreciate that as great as he was on the field, he was that much better off it.