The Roberto Perez Injury – Completely Predictable, Completely Avoidable

5-8-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

If you have kids, this is going to sound familiar, if you don’t, trust me this is coming. You’ve lived through a lot in your life as an adult and when your kid is about to make a mistake you’ve made in your own life you have no choice but to at least try to offer some advice.

At the end of the day, most kids are going to ignore you and do it anyway, but at least you tried right?

Well, after the Pirates traded Jacob Stallings to the Marlins for Connor Scott, Kyle Nicolas and Zach Thompson, everyone and their mother knew that the Pirates had really destroyed a position that was already too weak.

Even after quickly replacing Jacob with Roberto Perez, everyone continued to call for another catcher.

And I mean everyone.

That’s really the dumbfounding part here, it’s not like the facts weren’t clear as day. Roberto Perez is a highly capable catcher, arguably the game’s best defensive catcher in today’s game in fact, but he’s also a guy who simply hasn’t stayed healthy. Hold onto Jake and sign Perez as a backup and this position becomes one of the strongest in the game today. Move Jake and replace him with Perez, well at best it’s as good as it was last year, but lets be real clear, at best was just never going to happen because Roberto would need to have the single healthiest season he’s ever had in his year 33 season.

It’s not about hating Perez. It’s not about hating the return for Stallings. It’s about weighing the plausibility and figuring the odds weren’t in their favor.

Furthermore, they brought in nothing worth considering an upgrade to compete with last season’s backup catcher Michael Perez.

Now their stuck with a guy (Andrew Knapp) who couldn’t land a roster spot on arguably baseball’s worst team the Cincinnati Reds, and another (Michael Perez) who couldn’t land a spot on a team in close competition for the same title.

As a fan, and make no mistake, while I’m plugged in and try my best to shut that part of me down when I cover the club, it’s just sickening that seemingly everyone saw this eventuality coming of Roberto Perez being injured and the team being left with nothing but the aforementioned scraps.

To make matters even worse, take your pick of team official and you’ll find a quote talking about how important Roberto Perez is to not only the catching position, but also the pitching staffs’ success. Here’s an example.

I mean, well yeah.

That’s not some revelation, they said much the same about Jacob Stallings last year. Now if it’s that important, here’s what this team was saying to us before the season.

We know having a quality backstop is really key to the development of all these kid pitchers. We know at best this guy is going to play 120 games but we’re going to go ahead and not fill the backup role effectively anyhow and just sacrifice those theoretical 42 games left over…..IF, he stays healthy. If he gets hurt, well, we screwed folks.

Sorry, not good enough.

Now I’m not here to tell you the free agent market had more options, they quite literally got the best and I mean by a mile, option out there in the form of Perez, there simply needed to be more urgency to get something else.

Victor Caratini was out there for one and they more than have enough prospect capital to pull it off. If it’s that crucial to your pitching program, there should be no question that it’s worth a Ji-hwan Bae or a Rodolfo Castro type.

Point is, when it comes to things like this, you have to assume, even if wrong, if it can go wrong, it probably will.

Now does it matter for the record this year? I mean yes, it’s going to make things much harder. Were they in any danger of making a playoff spot anyway? No, but if the goal is to improve the team and continue to develop, well, one would think you don’t want to throw a monkey wrench into everything you’re trying to accomplish by having nothing behind your starting catcher.

I’m not fresh mad about this, I wrote about how stupid this was months ago. I spent two podcast episodes eviscerating the team for lack of foresight. I take no pleasure in being right, but make no mistake, I was, and so were all of you. In fact, of all the things in Pirates land this year, I don’t think there has been one need more universally accepted as imperative as this one by the fan base. Man you don’t want your GM listening to fan opinion to make decisions, but sure wish someone had listened at least a little, because it’s going to hurt.

If this was just a week or two, it would still suck, and I’d probably be just as annoyed at seeing Michael Perez, even after hitting a homerun back up here, instead this could be FAR worse. How bad?

Yeah, that bad. They haven’t said so yet, but that kind of talk isn’t just thrown around, so I wouldn’t be caught off guard by a tear.

Now why was I so, so worried about this? I mean the Pirates drafted a catcher number one overall last year for god’s sake right?

Henry Davis just reached AA, promoted today as a matter of fact, and he looks excellent. Endy Rodriguez is just as far away. Abrahan Gutierrez isn’t close. Carter Bins isn’t close and doesn’t really look like he will be.

I hated the Stallings trade because of the timing, the timing of the rebuild. I hated leaving it at Roberto Perez with no safety net for the exact same reason. And no, they won’t rush anyone up here from that group, even if Henry hits .375 in AA after his promotion. He’s learning to be a catcher, and wants to be a great one, that doesn’t happen overnight. His arrival in MLB remains plausible for 2023, but I wouldn’t place a bet on it.

Even if Perez was healthy all year and did well, he’s not signed for 2023 so the Pirates will be right back on the market. Maybe Perez getting hurt makes him signable again, but how many times do you have to touch the flame before realizing it’s hot?

Ben Cherington is a really smart guy, truly, but sometimes that leads to outthinking yourself, and in my mind on this subject he’s done exactly that.

I’ve written this before but if you don’t want to be a joke, it’s probably wise to stop acting like one.

Here’s a team that I’ll fully admit isn’t ready to really compete, but with payroll where it is, I’ll simply not hear any woe is me crap from a team that let the starting rotation look how it does and left the catching position this thin.

You made this bed Ben Cherington, Derek Shelton, Bob Nutting, everyone, now you have to sleep in it, unfortunately those of us who warned you will have to camp out on your stained fold out couch too.

You can believe in this plan all you want, you all know I do and genuinely like where they are with it, but there is no reason they have to do poorly on the way there or potentially make it painfully slower than it need be.

At some point you’re selling hope and trust. Now if I have to watch the situations of today mangled on a regular basis, how the hell am I or anyone else supposed to buy what you’re selling? I mean in a week where you had three off days, scheduled or not, you still had to make sure one of your stars sat because you decided a week or so ago he was gonna. But yeah, I’ll trust that when the talent gets here you’ll know what do to.

Show me you’re not capable of making the right calls now and watch me not believe you’ll make them later either.

Catcher is today’s issue, but it was eminently predictable, by we the unwashed masses. If you can’t see that’s an issue that you missed what we all saw Mr. Cherington, perhaps in the end you’ll prove yourself to be the wrong guy for this gig. Sure hope not, but I’ll say this, at some point the prospects will come up here, then what? Practice being smart now, or risk proving you aren’t later.

Get well soon Roberto, it seems to be their only plan.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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