Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

1-24-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

The Player’s Union and MLB are meeting today and there is reportedly going to be a players counter proposal coming to the table. Again, this isn’t going to end this evening with two fake happy looking guys pretending they agree on everything. Just another step.

Once news breaks on this front, and I’ve had a chance to digest it, I’ll do another break down of how things are progressing, but I’m more than confident I won’t be covering an agreement, not yet.

Now, onto today’s thoughts.

1. Who Are You Rooting For?

I’ve been watching Steelers fans argue all morning about who they should be rooting for now that the NFL is down to their final 4. Some say Cincinnati because they’re tired of the Chiefs. Some say Kansas City because they can’t ever root for a division rival. The Rams are a popular choice, with Aaron Donald being a Pitt alum and all around good guy, Stafford is a nice story. San Fran came out of nowhere really.

You know what you don’t ever hear though? You never hear I can’t root for the Rams because I can’t stomach a big market winning again. In fact, when you watch the NFL, it rarely even crosses your mind.

I can’t imagine what could possibly be different in that league to have every team seen through their achievement and actions on the field rather than their ability to spend.

14 teams in the playoffs would equal what the NFL does, unfortunately MLB continuously fails to grasp the real success nugget they should emulate.

2. If Youth Wins, Let it Win

The perception is that the Pirates have a bunch of guys who will help by mid season right there in AAA heading into 2022, and that’s absolutely true. I’m here to say if that youth were to look ready, even as early as Spring training (whenever it winds up happening) let it take over. If Roansy looks better than 3 of the starting 5 come May, so be it. If Cruz is killing everything in the third week of April, move whomever you feel is blocking him out of the way.

Even if MLB somehow comes out of this negotiation still having the Super 2 BS in place, ignore it.

This club has worked hard to bring in talent, let us see it put to work. If you aren’t going to go get a real outfielder via free agency, don’t make us watch half a season of guys with no future here try.

3. The Pirates Better Be Right About the Catching

The Pirates traded Jacob Stallings and replaced him with Roberto Perez on a one year deal. For the sake of argument I’ll pretend Perez will be 100% healthy this entire season and the backup won’t matter much.

As we head into 2023, the bet has to pay off. What bet? Well, they had control of Jacob Stallings for a while, easily long enough to have someone develop from the group this club has coming. The bet is, someone is going to be ready to carry the load by 2023.

Who’s that going to be? Abrahan Gutierrez? Carter Bins? Henry Davis at some point? Point is, it has to be someone, and the fact I can’t put my finger on anyone from this list and plop them as a backup this year scares the hell out of me.

I really believe this team will have a decent roster in place for 2023, but this position is a big focal point as we get closer. I love the depth of talent, I don’t love that most of it isn’t closer. I don’t like the loss of Stallings more for this reason than the return or that they lost a solid player. To me this was very much so a timing issue, I didn’t like it then, and until they prove me wrong I won’t like it later. Even if who they got in return sets the world on fire.

4. Sustained Success?

It’s too early to talk about keeping a good team on the field, especially when they haven’t put one on in the first place yet. That said, the talent sets up already to add infusions year over year and while that guarantees nothing, it does give them capital. They can use this talent to acquire more, or they can keep rolling along a lot like the Rays do. I’m not so sure we should be anticipating a 3 year window per se, as much as a longform arc.

A championship is hard to develop, it’s even harder if you’re aiming for never bottoming out again as it can cause you to constantly look for what’s coming and neglect augmenting what’s here when the time is right.

These are things we just won’t know until we watch them handle it. Let’s say everything lines up and this team is in the hunt in 2024. Bubba Chandler is killing it as a hitter and pitcher for the Curve, and the big club needs a starter. Will they be willing to move Bubba for that piece? Or will they be willing to just make it and hope. Will they be all about it in 2024 or will they be more concerned about 2027 even as they have opportunity right there in front of them?

There are a ton of factors and ways to play this whole thing. None of them happen without building the talent in the first place. Job number one has gone well, I’m super interested to see how they handle the next part.

5. Tragic Kingdom

No Doubt, the Tampa Bay Rays have developed and implemented a strategy that has created a consistent competitor. As long as you don’t look at the place they play, there’s nothing about this franchise you could call a failure.

That said, they are primed for relocation and MLB just finally decided they’d nix their plan to split time between Montreal and Tampa. They want a new place to play, and to be blunt they’d struggle for attendance even if they had PNC Park. Put it in that location and they simply aren’t going to draw. I fully believe this team will move when their lease expires in 2027.

Don’t get me wrong, I honestly hope baseball fixes the system, but if they don’t I almost can’t wait to see if Tampa sticks with the system they use if and when they move to a city that actually shows up.

As many of you know, it’s my contention that Pittsburgh wouldn’t be satisfied with the Rays system because it still doesn’t afford keeping stars around, well, I’m not just pointing my finger at Yinzers. Most cities wouldn’t deal with what the Rays do very well, and I’m interested to see how they adapt, or for that matter if they do?

Top contenders for relocation seem to be Montreal, Nashville and Vegas, which is interesting, because Montreal didn’t exactly support the Expos well, and still don’t have a good place to play. Nashville has arguably the best minor league baseball setting in the game with the Sounds and would have to go outside the city limits to build a new place. Vegas is just a matter of time, since sports embraced betting, it was just a matter of time before Vegas gobbled up franchises in every sport.

MLB isn’t in position to expand, so relocation is the only path, and the Rays are really the only ones up for that move.

No, not the Pirates I say to get ahead of the morons sure to fill the comments.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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