The Pirates Need to Take a Step Forward, It Simply Won’t Happen Without Investment

10-16-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Craig and I put out our first pass at the 40-man roster. It was intentionally left as is with very few changes because we believe if you don’t tell and show people the problems they’ll never understand the things that have to happen, or the difficulties they present.

For instance, if we just wrote that the bullpen has like 3 players that the team should rely on next year, specifically David Bednar, Chasen Shreve and Chris Stratton, well most would think hey what’s the big deal? Protect all the prospects from the Rule 5 draft, there’s plenty of space.

I think what we showed is it’s more about numbers than names.

It’s one thing to say go out and get 2 good relievers, it’s another entirely to understand when you go get those 2 good relievers you don’t want your 40 man full of players you don’t want to lose. Expose a player to the Rule 5 draft because it’s not likely they help the MLB club in 2022 and deal with a slight risk of losing them as opposed to having them on the 40-man, needing a spot for an MLB acquisition could expose one of them to needing DFA’d, a much higher risk of loss there as the requirement to hold them on the roster is gone.

So you want Shea Spitzbarth removed from the 40-man, ok, then he get’s DFA’d and maybe you lose him, maybe you don’t but until they bring in someone else all they do is lose depth.

The easy thing to say there, and something many unfortunately will at least think is that Shea wasn’t good anyway. I mean look, as bad as the Pirates bullpen was he couldn’t consistently stay on it right? That’s true, but he’s also young, and when watching a team in this stage of construction we often confuse irredeemably bad with young and capable of improvement.

The reality is on a 101 loss team, there simply aren’t a lot of players that should lay their head down at night feeling secure they have a place to play in 2022, that won’t stop many of them from being kept.

You can think Nick Mears isn’t good, he certainly wasn’t good this year and no I’m not going to go into all the reasons why you should probably not have a rock solid opinion formed yet, for the sake of this I’ll just go with you, he sucks.

He’ll get a spot on the 40-man because he’s more prepared to help in MLB than what they have in the system right now. He’d need DFA’d to remove him and I know this is gonna come as a shock but he’d likely get picked up. Now on some chance he doesn’t, hey, no harm no foul, he goes to AAA and the Pirates can protect someone else from our snub list, say Liover Peguero.

Now they don’t have a good internal option so they’ll have to go get someone else. Take your pick, the name isn’t important. Someone else has to go. It’s certainly not going to be Peguero, so instead it’s another player, maybe this is when you finally get Kyle Keller. No matter what, you’ve taken away a spot.

There are no easy ways to avoid this being an issue. You can go and pick 15 players and jettison them into the sun, but the team won’t get better unless they bring in 15 better options and let’s be blunt, they simply won’t.

The build is at a weird tipping point, the talent is coming, some even on the doorstep, but it’s also not ripened. They’re too far away to go full youth movement, too close to go get a ton of vets (even if you believe Nutting would ever do it). Point is, these things don’t happen in isolation.

Now, the Pirates payroll is going to be so low, even they could certainly go add, and considerably so. I keep saying they should and I keep specifically asking for pitching. The best pitching talent in the system not named Yajure or Contreras is in Greensboro and potentially Altoona, despite the ETAs people love to talk about, that’s not a snap of the fingers.

The offense is way ahead of the Pitching, system wide. So if they’re going to spend, that’s the place.

It’s not about protecting the wallet of the owner, it’s about protecting the process and more importantly losing a minimum amount of assets so there are fewer holes to fill when the time comes. The offense will force the issue here and if you really want to get excited, let me say this, Contreras is early, so is Kranick, if just 2 of their young starters puts their stamp on the league this year this team will have no choice but to spend in the off season before 2023.

That offseason also happens to be the best slot where new players aren’t Rule 5 eligible in a huge batch too, 2024 we’re right back to what this one has wrought.

Spend, but spend smart. Get pitching help and let’s all get a grip and realize they aren’t getting a 20 million dollar outfielder.

2022 is a year for getting help for what they have, 2023 is potentially a much more thought provoking time for seeing what is and isn’t panning out.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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