12-12-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
I chose to start covering the Pirates right before the Pirates fired Neal Huntington and even before that move was made I knew this organization was about to embark on a painful process. I did so because I felt this market lacked someone you didn’t have to pay to read willing to tell you the hard truth as opposed to blowing smoke up your butt or overtly acting like they were one miser away from being the Dodgers.
See, I looked down the ranks in the system and saw something I knew this franchise wasn’t capable of overcoming, they just didn’t have enough to even pretend they could turn around the ship without major investment in the MLB product.
Before I dig in on this subject, let me clarify that last paragraph, because half of you will call bullsh*t if I don’t. When I say they weren’t capable of overcoming it, I mean had they tried to build on what was here, this season 2022 would have presented a problem. They’d be facing the last season for Joe Musgrove, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell and Adam Frazier. There are other players of course, but those four all expiring together would have made 2022 a cross roads. Extend a couple? OK. Trade some of them? Fine.
All the while the farm would have Oneil Cruz, Quinn Priester, (Maybe Nick Gonzales as I can’t say who they’d have drafted), Matt Fraizer, and Travis Swaggerty as the headliners on the way up. If you want to toss in more, fine, I didn’t see Fraizer coming for instance, maybe you did.
Point is, there wasn’t enough, close enough to comfortably move those guys and through arbitration and a few more signings they’d have probably been a .500 or a little better team. The way things were trending I think they might have gotten themselves into some semblance of contention at least for a wild card by 2021 but only if they went and bought a pitcher or two.
Instead, Ben Cherington saw what I did and decided that wasn’t good enough to win it all, and honestly not a good enough bet to secure a Wild Card Berth to keep it together. Boom goes the dynomite.
Lately I’ve seen people who were 100% on board with this effort when it began, starting to feel it’s failed because 2022 doesn’t look poised to produce a winner.
So, you expected that Ben Cherington was going to go scorched earth on this depth chart over 3 off seasons, dragging young lottery tickets and slightly older prospects into the system and while maybe 2 or 3 guys acquired are ready to help this Spring, everything was going to turn around suddenly in 2022?
Were you not paying attention to what the Indianapolis Indians looked like last season? Maybe you missed that the team had to dive into the sewer that is the waiver wire fishing for warm bodies to throw pitches or pretend to know how to play the outfield.
Oh, I get it, you expected that they were acquiring all these prospects, many of which were promoted to AAA so the Indians actually have some talent to call on this season, so that suddenly this would be the year Cherington goes out and buys a ton of talent (who love one year contracts by the way) to fill out the MLB roster. That sounds a lot like what Bob Nutting teams usually do, I get it.
I mean, people c’mon here.
This is exactly what the plan has been. It’s part of why I get irritated with people who claim to cover this team seriously fill your heads with ideas that they’re going to go get an ace, or compete this year, or go buy this or that.
The plan hasn’t changed, not that they’ve ever told you what it was anyway.
It’s the logical path. 2022 starts to introduce new talent the team has developed and acquired since the very first trade. 2023 some of them will have grabbed hold of a spot on the roster and will be poised to be augmented by the next group and holdovers that didn’t stick in 2022. Then, maybe they add.
At least in any way that truly matters. They could need pitching, a first baseman, maybe they do have to go get that outfielder. Right now, there just isn’t much to be done that is going to change the outcome, but it could slow down the journey a bit for some of those prospects.
This is a rebuild.
Zeroing out the roster and then going on a spending binge is too.
The Pirates to nobody’s surprise chose method one.
If you want to be mad that 2022 is going to be marginally better than 2021 but not yet competitive, hey, do you, but don’t sit here acting like you haven’t been told different or you’re caught out of nowhere that Nick Gonzales isn’t ready because some moron you follow told you he would be.
There’s simply nothing shocking about where this team is poised to be in 2022 except maybe the catching position.
Ask yourself, did they acquire all these guys to made the minors good or to make MLB good?
So, why would they suddenly go all San Diego (in case you’re silly enough to believe that’s what’s coming, EVER) now, when all these guys are on the doorstep?
Maybe if the team itself would lay this thing out for you instead of some mope like me you’d take it better, but they simply won’t. For that matter no team would.
Seeing the path is like reading tea leaves, except reading the minor league system actually works.
Here’s a great for instance of why so many have gotten confused and actually think this whole thing is off schedule. When Nick Gonzales was drafted he was given an ETA by MLB Pipeline of 2022. I told you at the time that was insane. Craig told you at the time that was insane. Here we are in 2022 and he’s expected to start his season in AA Altoona. If he does everything right, and stays healthy he might earn a bump to AAA Indianapolis this season and next year he’ll be in the picture.
What ETA do they have listed for Nick now? 2022.
He’s not on the 40-man roster, meaning he doesn’t just have to be good, he’d have to be lucky. He’d need a bunch of middle infield options in front of him to fail, get hurt, traded, retire, or do PEDs I guess, and then maybe, maybe being that he’s so important the Pirates would add him to the 40 and bring him up. He’d have to jump Peguero who’s on the 40 too, and I don’t think he’ll sniff MLB this year either.
So sometime I’d guess in May, someone will ask me why the Pirates are holding Nick Gonzales back. It’ll probably be after he’s hit like 4 homeruns in a week and I mean I’ll probably just sigh again.
This year can be fun if you let it. You’ll see young players making their way up. You’ll see guys like Gonzales do what they have to do to contribute in 2023. You’ll see guys who you think they should put in front of the firing squad either prove you wrong or find the exit. One thing you won’t see though is a team arriving earlier than expected.
If that doesn’t match what you call a rebuild, cool, I’ll see ya in 2023 when it’ll be undeniable. Until then, go Nutting’s wallet I guess and the like.
2 thoughts on “The Pirates Plan Hasn’t Changed, Patience of the Fans Has”
I don’t know that a rebuild excludes some decent acquisitions for 2022. Most notably, an OF and a SP, that are effective enough to be coveted by other teams. It may be via trade or FA signing. We have some depth to make deals from. I am not crying for an ACE or a 40 HR a year OF but a tier or 2 better than what we have acquired in the recent past. 2-3 year contracts would be okay and probably required by both the player and the Pirates. We have no OF looking like a guarantee to succeed but with the depth will probably have 1 do okay. Why not supplement Reynolds with an decent pro? Same for the pitching. I just don’t see 5 SP in the system over the next 2-3 seasons. I also see no reason why the team isn’t substantially better than 2021. I would consider 75 wins as a solid season.
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So you’re saying what you’d like to see, and I’m focusing on what I think we’ll actually see. I’d be fine with what you propose, they probably won’t.