Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

12-27-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

The baseball world is quiet, deafening even. Nobody has put forward any ideas, both sides feel like this is their moment in time, and the longer it goes without starting to hear ideas, concessions, or even just angry vitriol, the more likely this process costs games.

1. Bolstering the Development Team

The Pirates added several new coaches to the development team primarily based in Bradenton shortly before the holiday. One dominated the coverage thought, Caitlyn Callahan. She’s the first in uniform female coach the Pirates have ever hired so everyone crawled out to make sure the world knew how awesome it was so the world knew how great they are. This sort of move comes with little celebration typically, they’ve hired a coach who interned with the Reds last season specializing in video and technology, and if she wasn’t the first, we’d likely not hear about it.

I’m happy to see MLB and particularly the Pirates open doors that were not available in the past, but I’ll reserve my praise for the hire, much like I will for the new MLB hitting coach Andy Haines until I’ve seen some results.

I care about the job, if she does it well I don’t care if she has 7 legs and 8 eyes.

The Pirates also hired Dewey Robinson, who has been seen as a pitching development guru with the Rays. Again, the Rays have obviously done something right in this regard, and he’s been there since 2010, last year moving into the role of Director of Pitching Development. This certainly needs to be a focus for this franchise, but we’ll see. I’m happy to comb some crumbs from a successful organization but the Rays don’t make a lot of mistakes, and that goes for letting people go at the wrong time too.

The Bucs hired a new Minor League Fielding Director, Chris Truby, who filled the same role with the Phillies. He started his coaching career with the Bucs 14 years ago and after one year moved to Philly where he held multiple roles for 13 years.

Finally, the club replaced AAA pitching coach Joel Hanrahan with Dan Meyer who was once a Pirates prospect and has been with the Braves since 2015, most recently as a pitching coach for their AA affiliate.

This is all good stuff, they need to continue to build the development team, I just don’t see one more important than the others based on their sex. True equality to me is ignoring things like that for the most part and focusing on the job they do. Yes, I know that’s not a popular way to look at it but it is where I land on stuff like this.

2. Define Build Sir

This team is clearly building something, and it’s very much so from the ground up. We’re talking an overhaul of the actual system, not just the players and coaches, we’re talking equipment, programs, methods and philosophies.

This is not going to be over anytime soon. Even if by some chance the MLB team returns to relevancy in the next couple years as it looks to be headed, I’m getting the impression that the system itself is more what Ben Cherington is referring to as his build’s focus. That’s been his track record, in Boston he completely overhauled the entire system and turned it into a talent conveyer belt. He then took his talents to Toronto and largely did the same.

The thing is, it can never be seen as a success unless it shows itself on the MLB playing surface.

I’m saying this for one simple reason, even if as a GM Ben Cherington fails to get the job done at the MLB level, he could leave a lasting mark on this organization because of this aspect of his undertaking.

This isn’t uncommon in sports, a guy who is focused on rebuilding the pipeline can sometimes fall in love with his canvas and struggle to actually put down brush strokes. That’s the part of this whole thing I really think we have no choice but to hold our breath and hope over. Can he, will he, use some of the pieces he and his system are going to create to make the MLB product better? Not just via promotion, but as assets, because this won’t work without it. Diversification of acquisition is almost as important as development itself, and willingness is the key to unlocking it.

3. Should We Really Believe Nick Gonzales Can Debut in 2022?

I’ll end the suspense, I doubt it sincerely.

But, but, he did so good in the Arizona Fall League!

Still no.

But, Ben Cherington is known to accelerate development!

Yeah, within reason, he is.

This is where the 40-man and actual numbers matter. You can’t just ignore all the guys that would need to be jumped or dumped to open a door for Nick to make a meaningless debut in a season unlikely to produce a winning record. I have no doubt he’ll do enough this season to make at least a few of us believe he’s a better option than anyone else in front of him, but that’s not enough. It’s not fair either at times, but fair isn’t a thing in this area of baseball.

Be patient with Nick and in 2023 he’ll be in the picture. Pretending the Greensboro roster from 2021 will all make the league this season is ignoring reality, and worse, it’s setting up for fans to assume failure on his part or the development system when it’s honestly not warranted.

4. No, Virginia, There is No Ownership Change That Would Save This Franchise

The most boring comment I receive is easily “DERP, they need a new owner”.

It’s not even that I disagree, it’s that it won’t solve all the problems.

I won’t mention Bob Nutting in every piece I write, because quite frankly, he has noting to do with much of what we’re watching right now and if that makes you think you need to remind me that he’s part of every problem, I honestly think you’re ignoring that there is very little chance he’s slipped past my eyes examining this club.

I know who he is, I know what he’s done wrong, I know what he’s done foolishly. I’m aware of his short sightedness, his tight purse strings and all of the idiocy of this league that allows it.

I’m also covering a team trying to in part replicate a franchise that has survived and thrived under all the same issues. I think the owner hired someone who can and has done it before. When I choose to not mention the owner, it’s because it’s boring as hell, not because I don’t remember or didn’t realize and the only thing holding me back is your brilliant observation that he’s cheap.

You have to work with the tools you have and that’s how I choose to cover this club. When I want to address the owner, as I have hundreds of times at this point, I’ll address the owner. When I don’t, it’s either because I feel for the subject at hand it’s irrelevant, or it’s such an obvious given I’d like to think you’d give me the same credit I give you, that you already know he’ll have to spend at some point. Honestly if you need to hear it in every story, this simply isn’t the site for you. It’s a reality that people will seek out people who write or say what they want to hear, well, that’s just not how we write. We write what interests us, and if it speaks to you, great.

5. Will There Be MLB Baseball in 2022?

I’d be lying if I told you anything has changed since the last time we spoke. All the same issues remain, all the same arguments, all the same bull headedness.

I will say though, I think missing games is very likely at this point. Both sides are dug in, and while I can sit here and tell you neither side wants to lose money, the people negotiating it are not going to suffer much. The richest players fill up the representative pool, and the owners of course all aren’t going to miss a meal.

If we don’t have news of any movement by mid January, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t book any trips to Bradenton, unless you want to take in a Marauders game.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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