4-11-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
Well, we’re in the middle of game time but the Pirates can barely control their lineup let alone the weather. The Cardinals series officially ends with the Pirates headed home with a 1-2 record as the stage is set for opening day on 412 Day in the Burgh.
Time for the Thoughts.
1. Beware False Prophets
No, I’m not gonna go all biblical on ya, but I can’t help but point out, there are far too many people out there quoting batting averages and ERAs for guys who’ve thrown 5 innings or had 12 at bats.
A good rule of thumb for this stuff is usually pretty simple. You know how when you watch games early in the season the broadcast will show last season’s numbers, or maybe they’ll flash up that someone is 4 for 9 in their past 3 games? Well, that’s because nobody should care that someone is hitting .775 without the context of understanding that came from his one game where he went 3 for 4 and literally hasn’t swung a bat otherwise.
Nobody should care that someone has a 18.00 ERA after pitching 4 innings.
These numbers and any average based stat for that matter don’t really mean much until there have been enough at bats or innings to you know, average.
I should probably add this stuff goes farther than just jumping on a number too early, sometimes that 3 for 4 performance isn’t an indication that the player should never leave the lineup again or whatever catchphrase is going on that day. It could mean this dude kills lefties or was the beneficiary of hitting in front of Reynolds or Ke’Bryan, or even just dumb luck.
All that said, hey, for your own sake and sanity, just at least wait to start seeing broadcasts post actual averages before you start dissecting who stinks and who should be inked long term.
2. The World Needs Ditch Diggers Too
My dad used to tell me this every time I complained about school. It applies to baseball too. A baseball team needs a good bullpen, and rarely is a good bullpen constructed without some failed starters or even just squeezed out starters being a part of it.
Look no further than the Dodgers who have our old friend Tyler Anderson penciled in to pitch from their bullpen. I don’t say this as a compliment to the organization but this was damn near an ace in Pittsburgh last season.
All that to say, if Wil Crowe finds a place in this bullpen and he’s a true swing man, damn that’s a good find, and one that could really be more important than people are thinking.
Look at a guy like Brent Suter with the Brewers. He’s started, he’s pitched middle relief, he’s been used in leverage situations at the back end of games. Hell, he even has a save. Point is, Suter is always there for whatever the Brewers need. A spot start, long relief, leverage middle innings, a late inning left on left matchup, maybe even one of the big two in the back gets hurt and he needs to fill the role for a month.
If Crowe can be anything like that, he’s not a failed starter, he’s a reborn asset.
I love this role for him. Love the added velocity, and more than anything I love that he can empty the tank over a couple innings and not worry about not showing some of his mix the first time through, or being afraid to hunt a strikeout because of his pitch count.
This Wil Crowe is something I want to see more of.
3. Oh How Quickly We Forget
I had to laugh this week watching national baseball writers lose their minds over the A’s tearing their team down to start their next cycle.
They’ve done this for just about 30 years now. They get good, then they realize they can’t afford to keep everyone and trade off the lot for high end talent and play all kids while they develop.
It hasn’t netted them a ring, in fact they are every bit the AAA of the league the Pirates are called (well, with more actual success stories I’d argue), but the darlings of the small market world aren’t so darling when they enter their cycle as when it’s bearing fruit.
My first thought is, folks, where was this concern when the CBA was being hammered out? Nobody could have possibly thought there was a solution baked in to the agreement that would stop this, or even make it less of a plausible path to having a shot.
Nobody fought for economic change that would make it more feasible for a team like Oakland to keep young stars. No instead every team in the league ultimately put pen to paper on a deal that did nothing but make it even harder. They raised the amount the super rich could spend and did nothing to balance it out. We all know the dirty word that would have fixed the sport, they do too, but 5 weeks out we’re already acting like this stuff should have been fixed.
If you want this stuff to stop, there has to be a system that stops it. Scream salary floor all you like, I’ll happily accept it, cause coupled with the already in place Luxury Tax Cap, guess what you have dopey.
4. I’m Still Confused About VanMeter
Heading into this season the Pirates had an issue it didn’t take a 30 year journalist to predict. An absolute glut of players who could rightfully claim a shot at middle infield playing time.
That’s played out, well, exactly as I and so so many others told you it would. And let’s be completely transparent, that’s without Cruz making the club or Rodolfo Castro being here. They have just way too many players for those positions.
I didn’t understand for that very reason acquiring Josh VanMeter from Arizona. Thing is, I don’t really even need to pick apart his numbers to ask the question. The Pirates simply didn’t need him, in fact the surprise call up of Roansy Contreras for bullpen duty is a direct result since the Pirates were ultimately forced to DFA Adonis Medina and move him to NY for cash after picking VanMeter up and gripping Knapp to backup Perez.
Even if Josh finds it here, to what end? He’ll be arbitration eligible next season and he still plays where the Pirates have another busload coming up behind the current glut. And finding it is a big if to begin with. If you don’t hit homeruns in Cincinnati, you probably aren’t going to hit them in Pittsburgh. And I won’t waste much time illustrating he’s a poor defender.
I suppose if the team is working on a deal with Newman or Tucker to head out of town, ok, but even then, you have Cruz and Castillo, Chavis and Park, Castro and Bae, I mean attack this deal from any direction you choose and the answer is, why?
Nothing personal, I just don’t get it. I don’t care what they gave up, I’d never heard of him anyway, but this just doesn’t make sense on any level. Smells like someone knew him and liked him and had a really loud voice to me.
I can’t even begin to think how he survives the cuts at the end of April back to a 26 man roster.
5. The Pitch Communication System
Roberto Perez is a fan. Pushing a couple buttons to communicate the next pitch to the pitcher has been quick, even with guys on and for the most part guys have taken to it. We saw a bit of miscommunication from Brubaker, and a bit from Wil Crowe the other day, but for the most part pitchers are quicker to the next pitch and it’s really helped the flow of games I’ve seen across the league.
Not all pitchers or catchers are required by MLB to use it, and of course I see the potential for Astros like cheating like everyone else, but this will speed up the game, arguably more than a pitch clock, importantly without fundamentally changing the game.
I’ve noticed something else about Perez behind the dish, and it’s rather stark in comparison to how Jake handled himself. When he sets for a pitch, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where he wants the pitch, he’s playing games with hitters. He’ll crouch outside then hop in right before the pitch is uncorked. Or he’ll set the glove high then recieve it low and praise the pitcher for hitting his spot. Gamesmanship at it’s finest and while a small facet of what he does back there, I’d bet a contributing factor in why he’s caught so many Cy Young Candidates.