Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

2-21-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Well, I can’t and won’t sit here and tell you it’ll be productive, but this week sure promises to be newsy. Either way, the business of baseball marches on.

1. Get Better Continues

By the end of this week, the Pirates will have roughly 100 members of their 180 man player allotment in Bradenton for Minor League Camp and a continuation of the Get Better at Baseball initiative. Which is really funny when you think about it, cause if that’s not always to goal, I mean, what the hell are we doing here?

Bottom line, this is going to be a nice showcase for guys who usually would have been a bit buried by the MLB Spring Training going on. Players who have been working all off season to change something, hone a swing change, dial in a new pitch, maybe even just show that this year the K rate is going to head in the right direction.

It’s part of what you love to see at Spring Training, minus the interaction of youngsters with veterans. Taking into consideration the Pirates have precious few of those anyhow.

2. More Doesn’t Always Equal Better

I’ve seen quite a few comments stating that MLB and MLBPA finally deciding to meet daily this week is what they should have been doing all along. Man, I really don’t think so.

I could argue of course they shouldn’t have waited 42 days to bother talking, but daily meetings on something like this isn’t without risk. Animosity generated daily with no breaks to allow it to dissipate can sometimes create the opposite of what you think you’re trying to do.

I’m not trying to say they haven’t been slow walking this thing, I’m just saying this has no guarantee to be productive. According to Alex Stumpf over at DK Pittsburgh Sports, the players feel they could be ready after a month of training, so the timing of this sense of urgency is well placed with the planned start of the regular season being March 31st.

Want a prediction? Well, how’s this? If there is an agreement this week, it’ll be because the players either drop the bonus pool for young players entirely, or dropped their ask by 75 Million.

Someone has to move big somewhere or entirely drop an initiative or the regular season is simply not starting on time.

3. Isn’t the Competitive Balance Tax Already a Cap?

I mean, sorta.

It’s being treated like one anyway by most teams. It’s actually apropo that they called it a tax, cause if you can find a way to not pay them and still do well for yourself, guess what you try to do? Eventually that’s what has come to be, a funding mechanism for competitive balance has simply become a line most just try to stay under. Some could, and I’m sure do, argue that his is what the league intended all along.

It’s for that reason I never liked the lowering of and increased penalty version of the CBT. It would simply create the same thing. At first teams would just blow past it, over a short period of time, most would stay under it. As the funding mechanism for the proposed 100 million dollar floor was primarily based on increased tax payments, I never thought is was sustainable. That said, I wouldn’t argue if you said these teams should be able to spend 100 million as it is already anyway.

When sharing is based on an arbitrary tax, it’s hard for me to envision the recipient teams feeling comfortable spending it like most teams would. Follow me here, if you typically get 20 million from tax payers, it’s not like you can just assume you get that every year, so it stands to reason you couldn’t consistently factor it into your budget. Point being, I think there is still certain methods of spending you might not do with this kind of shared economics.

Regardless, for now this issue is off the table, just thinking about it because having a CBT at all is a point of contention for the players and I’ll be blunt, from the perspective of teams like Pittsburgh, I’m not sure it’d have any measurable effect if they raised the threshold by 50 million. Legitimately there are only maybe 10 teams that could ever touch it anyway. That might be an easy give to the players for something major from their sacred cows if I’m in that room.

4. Hot Stove Times Five

When all this is over, and yes Virginia, one day it’ll be over, the flurry of moves we’re going to see all over the league is going to be berserk. My guess is the quickness with which they come will all but guarantee talking was continuing throughout the lockout.

I’m really curious to see what some of these teams have come up with. There are enough players out there still that more than a few teams could almost reinvent themselves yet.

As for the Pirates, we know a pitcher is on the table, and I’d have to imagine a backup catcher minimally.

Regardless, I expect much of this to happen in a flurry the likes of which most of us have never seen in MLB.

5. First Base Can’t Be Set

I’m happy with the signing of Yoshi Tsutsugo, mostly because i believed the DH was coming all along. Michael Chavis can play there a bit too, but beyond that, the Pirates have nothing more than a rookie they didn’t even protect from Rule Five, and Ben Gamel who’s played all of like 5 games at first.

I don’t feel like that’s enough. I also don’t think they have to get a full time first baseman as they do need to get at bats for both players mentioned, but it might be nice to look in on a few guys who could hold down the spot.

So I propose a couple guys. One Jose Martinez, he’s always been a NL liability, but the bat plays, maybe answer the question by adding another obvious DH to the mix. Dan Vogelbach could also be a nice fit. Neither of these guys will break the bank, both would be an upgrade to the bench at the very least, and both have the ability to at least fill in at first if need be.

Hey, it’s just a thought, feels like a need to me even if we’re still not supposed to want to win. Which I absolutely disagree with by the way, but that’s for another day….

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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