The Pirates Best Players Should Play….Right?

3-28-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

This is the easiest question in sports, well it sure as hell should be anyway, yet every year here we all are, arguing and passionately fighting for one side or another with every prospect who looks close.

Oneil Cruz is special, sure looks like he could come right up on opening day and I have no doubt he’d dance through the growing pains his 6′ 7″ frame defies he still has left to do and put together a decent rookie season. Might even win Rookie of the Year. Thing is, might not too. It could be that after facing Major League pitching that actually studies him, and places importance on every pitch, holes will be exposed.

See the thing is, and we all know this if we’re honest, Major League Baseball is hard. One thing no GM wants is to call a guy as crucially important to their franchises’ success up, only to discover their gut was right and he needed more time to work on ironing out the wrinkles.

Add in that this league despite saying a bunch of the right words regarding wanting to eliminate service time manipulation they actually didn’t get it done. Both sides have always have claimed to want it fixed, both sides did little more than add in a thought or two of pause with draft pick rewards and awarding a year of service time to Rookie of the Year winners and runners up.

That bit I wrote up there about baseball being hard, and the very real difficulties rookies tend to have, see, that’s why it’s so easy to still do it. How could anyone with a straight face argue that most rookies are going to get slapped in the face with reality?

Now, should the Pirates start the season with Cruz on the team? I mean, anyone who’s a baseball fan probably says unflinchingly yes. Anyone who’s a fan of a team that isn’t capable of dishing out whatever it takes to whomever they like, probably sees the merit in seeing if you can get that extra year. Even if they feel icky saying it, or feeling it.

Baseball failed to eliminate this problem, and the easiest way would have been to eliminate Super 2 all together. Neither side seriously entertained doing that mind you, but here we are. And if you’re going to tell me the players wanted to and the owners blocked them, I’ll simply say yes, they tried as hard as the owners did to install a salary floor.

The Pirates might leave him on the roster, they might send him down. No matter what they decide some folks are going to think they’re stupid, or cheap, or both.

I personally want him up here, I think he’s shown enough to pretty safely say he’ll run into 15-20 on the low side and while I think he isn’t ready to play short stop at the big league level, I also don’t care, at least not right now.

I can say all that with a straight face, but I can also tell you there aren’t many GM’s who would see 21 errors in 230ish chances at short stop and just shrug.

If we’re really honest here, we’re frustrated with this team, this payroll, the owner, the rebuild process and the seemingly nonsensical consideration being paid to willingly starting a season without ALL the best players you have at your disposal.

We’re mad they didn’t bring in anyone who’s name we recognized to play outfield, or did bring in a name we recognized to pitch but like 7 years too late.

So the least they could do in the minds of many is give us at least this one kid as a token that this damn rebuild is working, even if it’s not one of the kids this GM brought in, just give us something.

Right?

Better yet, if the Pirates are already so convinced that the extra year of control is going to be so important, maybe offer the kid a deal? Make the year not matter. Yeah, I know why too.

If you really want to know why baseball is so hard to like for normal fans who just want to watch a team play and hope they win without caring about how they got there, this is it.

Everytime they want to read or hear about how the team is shaping up, half of the coverage is this stuff. You can blame people like me for that if you like, but I can’t just ignore every aspect of what goes into decisions like this. Baseball has created a system that doesn’t allow us to simply talk about players for what they do, instead we have to talk about what they make and how long they’ll be here before they even start. It makes us stop focusing on enjoying the talents of players and instead looking at how long they think he’ll stay with the club before being moved to a team that can afford him.

Bob didn’t create the rinse and repeat system you loathe, he just makes it more apparent than others that the game is rigged because he does precious little to fight it.

Oneil Cruz is an opportunity to step up and do something different, I have my doubts they’ll take it and no matter what he’s still the next, most exciting thing coming our way.

Try to allow yourself to enjoy him, even if they make you wait a bit first.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

5 thoughts on “The Pirates Best Players Should Play….Right?

  1. Gary, while I totally understand the point you are trying to make, it raises a “catch 22” – maybe more – if the Pirates choose to keep him up, not send him back down. Personally, I hope he stays up, but here are several questions that need to be addressed if the Pirates choose to do so. If he is included on the roster, he definitely needs to play or else the Pirates are taking away needed playing time that he would understandingly be getting if he were sent back down. Now if Cruz does remain on the Bucs’ roster and is penciled in as an every day player -at this point a short stop – just where do Newman, Tucker, and others fit in lineup wise? Or if short stop is not the best position for him either overall ability wise or logistically, where then does he fit in without first getting adequate playing time at a new position, one that he will most assuredly need to gain experience. Would remaining on the roster be too risky at the moment or would this experience be best gained by sending him down? At the moment, it seems like his bat is a definite plus while his position with a glove is uncertain? Is it not a certainty that if he is not sent back down, then players such as Newman in the infield or several players in the outfield will have to be traded or released? He also has the size for a 1st baseman as well if even considered for this position. Another “what if” to the decision is whether or not his short stop ability quality wise is the best logistic for the Pirates. Realizing that the points I am making have been raised numerous times before by countless others, the time for a final decision is fast arising. I just wonder what the majority of Pirate fans are hoping even though this decision will not be made by a show of hands?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent synopsis, Ralph! It’s tricky for sure. I think the defensive development is best handled at Indianapolis. Once the limelight of MLB is on, it’s difficult to outlive defensive issues–Pedro Alvarez is just the most prominent and recent local example that comes to mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good comprehensive post. As much as the tools are there, the errors and holes in the swing are too. Service time manipulation or not, I honestly think more AAA seasoning would behoove Cruz in the long run. Some would say to let him fail on this and that in MLB and then send him back to AAA to fix what’s exposed. They didn’t do that with Keller, from what we could discern–just plain sent him down. So I don’t think it makes much difference, but he should get more time at other positions in AAA too. That’s not to take him off short, just diversify and establish backup plans without having another preposterous Cole Tucker in CF type of debacle.

    21st-century NFL: Draft picks go straight to their teams, instant excitement. Let’s legitimize our competitive balance.
    21st-century NBA: Draft picks (usually) go straight to their teams, instant excitement. Let’s legitimize our competitive balance to some degree in a game that makes it difficult to do so.
    21st-century NHL: Draft picks occasionally go straight to their teams–instant excitement–and usually emerge within three years. Let’s legitimize our competitive balance.
    21st-century MLB: Draft picks never go straight to their teams–you’ll see the top pick in two years at best, so be sure to write the draftees’ names somewhere, so that you can vaguely recall them later. Instead of legitimizing our competitive balance, let’s extend to 33 years (maybe more–we’ll see next time) our needlessly convoluted window dressing that solves none of the league’s glaring problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s dead on true. And I’ll rub their noses in it every chance I get. They don’t even try to fix some of the issues. It’s like when the politicians mention our seniors like they actually give a shit.

      Like

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