1-31-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
Well, the Super Bowl is set. The Bengals and the Rams are set to square off in a small market vs massive market battle. I mean if this was a baseball event that’d be the narrative and most of the focus surrounding the game. Instead the consensus worst owner in professional sports Mike Brown (yeah, he’s actually had this moniker longer than Nutting) is headed to the biggest event in sports. The big market team, you know, who has to spend roughly the same amount of money as anyone else, completely mortgaged their future to take a big swing this year. They won’t have a number one pick until 2024. It’s just a different landscape folks, and it makes for a very invested fan base, league wide.
Sure wish Baseball would open their eyes.
Now onto the, um, baseball thoughts.
1. After This Week…
You can stop wondering if we’ll have a completely normal Spring and beginning to the season. Baseball has finally reached the point where the lockout actually starts to matter and while both sides are talking now, I don’t see them close enough to believe an agreement is coming this week.
The players don’t feel they’re being taken seriously, the owners don’t feel the players are making serious offers and even the national baseball writers like Buster Olney are starting to acknowledge how involved Scott Boras is on the tone and important issues from the player’s side of things.
Long story short, I don’t feel we’re in danger of missing a significant chunk of the regular season, but I do think we’re going to lose something, and the worst part is I think we’ll lose it for relatively nothing that really changes the game economically as it pertains to competitive balance.
2. Don’t Count Your Chickens, but…
I’ve seen some folks who have ramped back their rankings on Oneil Cruz, some have already started designing his bust for Cooperstown, most just hope he’s a good player. What makes this development system so encouraging is the shear number of guys who could be the next big thing. It could be Nick Gonzales, Quinn Priester, Liover Peguero, Roansy Contreras, Henry Davis, Oneil Cruz or it could easily be someone not ranked in baseball’s top 100 like Matt Fraizer or Miguel Yajure.
See the beauty is the Pirates don’t need any one of them to be a transformative player, they just need some of these guys to be in that conversation. Think back not all that long ago, remember when Kris Benson had to be a star or the team was screwed. Brad Lincoln was the same, and if or when they failed, the entire build was set back.
By stacking prospects the Pirates have better odds of having some break through, and better odds they can survive some of them not being the bees knees.
Spend time complaining about who’s ranked where right now if you like, but it only really matters if you plan to trade them and use the rankings as valuations. Since right now that’s not the case, it’s comforting to know they have this many guys with potential.
3. Pirates Turnover is Apparent
When looking through the team’s stats, something really jumped out to me, Games Played. Reality is, most of this team as it looks at least to start 2022 simply hasn’t played a lot of baseball.
Bryan Reynolds led the team with 159 ballgames, Kevin Newman followed with 148. The only other returning player to crack 100 is Ben Gamel with 111. Experience matters, and the Pirates don’t have much.
Thing is, nobody they brought in is really seasoned for games themselves, Roberto Perez has never played more than 119, and that was once. 73 was his second highest total, he’s not a likely provider of durability.
The games will come from somewhere, so maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about who wins what job, and focus more on the fact that they’ll wind up needing almost all of them.
In other words don’t freak out if your youngster of choice doesn’t make the club immediately, it sure seems like you’ll see most of them through attrition alone.
It’s part of why I chuckle a little when people act like they’re just returning the same roster next year expecting different results. You can criticize quite a few aspects of what they’ve done, or how they’ve approached it, but trotting out the same roster isn’t one of them.
4. Michael Chavis Might Well Be a Find
The power is real, the short sample size is too. Much like Bryse Wilson, Michael was very up and down having opportunity given and taken away fairly regularly.
The funny thing about him, in his rookie season he hit .254 with 18 dingers in 382 plate appearances, and somehow that wasn’t enough to get him consistent opportunity moving forward. He played 42 of his team’s 60 games in 2020 then scarcely played in 2021 before being moved to the Pirates.
He’s only 26 and many have already written him off as a dumpster dive. I can’t wait to see what he can do with more opportunity in 2022 and the DH will make sure he gets it on this team. There is potential he takes the pressure off Mason Martin or even Yoshi to perform at first as well.
Not all cast offs are made the same, and I honestly only looked closely when Jim Stamm brought him up on the show as his surprise pick to excel in 2022 on the Pirates Fan Forum last week. (On the homepage if you haven’t seen it)
5. Something I Never Thought I’d Miss
I’m fairly certain baseball will come back this season, but something I missed even while attending games last year was something I never imagined I would. I missed the vendors walking around and yelling at PNC. I missed the little quips during action from the unafraid homers carrying Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Cotton Candy.
I miss the open taunting of visiting fans when one of their stars struck out. The high fives after a big play shared with a stranger.
We got back in the stands last year, and I’m grateful, but now it’s time to get all the way back to normal. Hell, I hate Cracker Jack and might buy some just to complete the nostalgia overload I’m looking for.
Know what else while we’re at it? I missed having cash to tip the usher. Since the park went cashless I never remember to bring any and always feel bad. I’m just ready to be back, and as with every freedom that has been returned to us a new item to the list of things not to take for granted becomes clear.
Have a great week everybody.