5-23-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
Awful week of performance, or should we say, lack thereof for the Pirates. As expected, we’re now starting to see more of the youth brought up to the big leagues and the metamorphosis of this roster is officially underway. It’ll continue, and in short order too.
1. Pitching Reinforcements
The Pirates called up Roansy Contreras and Yerry De Los Santos. I’m fairly certain you’re all familiar with Roansy, and I’ll go ahead and expect he’s going to start on Tuesday until the team says otherwise. Yerry was a guy myself and Craig were kind of surprised wasn’t protected from Rule Five in 2021, and beside ourselves wasn’t protected for this year’s. Fortunately none of that mattered, and he and his mid 90’s fastball will make his debut this week for the club.
So we have some moves that will need to be made. 2 guys have to go from the active roster, and one guy will need removed from the 40-man to make a spot for Yerry who this year in AAA did this, 12 games, 2-0, 1.72 ERA, 3 SV, 15.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 20 SO, 0.64 WHIP. David Bednar needs help, can’t just keep sending him out there for 6 out saves all season.
The casualty of the 26-man is Bryse Wilson, using his last option, is being sent to AAA, and anyone who’s bothered to watch him pitch this year has spoken to how out of shape he seemed heading into Spring. Then the results were even worse than that, well deserved in my mind and hopefully they can figure something out with him. Kevin Newman who suffered a bit of a setback with his hamstring injury was transferred to the 60-day IL to make room for Yerry and sigh, ok.
We might not know about who goes for Roansy until tomorrow. I’ll say this, pay attention to who pitches tonight. If Heath Hembree is called on don’t be shocked if it’s the last time, he has no options. It could also wind up being a bat, but with the moves that need to happen on the 31st of May to trim down the pitching staff, that might be short sighted. We’ll see, I’d rather have these two than anyone who goes most likely, but that’s not to say they can’t screw this up.
2. Things I Can’t Understand
Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to see the Pirates give Rodolfo Castro every opportunity to stick at SS and play every single day since his call up. That said, man it raises some questions. First of all, he hasn’t been good since his call up on both sides of the ball. And I personally don’t care, that happens with youth, I’m actually really pleased to see them not allow his early performance to shake their initial goal to let him get a shot, it’s similar to how they’ve handled Jack Suwinski, who has also not really performed super well. He’s shown some pop, and the glove is really good but all in all, he’s just been meh.
So if those two can get nearly without interruption looks, again as I feel they should, why not Diego Castillo? Why not Michael Chavis? For that matter, if Castro and Suwinski can play stretches of up to 10 games in a row, why can’t Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes?
We’ve already established it’s not about performance. It’s not some Huntington guy vs Cherington guy thing either, which is silly on it’s face but I still see it yapped about by some of the bigger idiots out there. As most of you know 3 of those guys are Cherington additions, but Castro is of course not.
It’s not about right or wrong, I just want to understand why it’s ok for some, but not others to actually get a solid shot where they don’t have to dance around the field looking for different gloves.
I mean, I’ll laugh out loud if you wanna tell me someone was blocked somewhere. Yoshi Tsutsugo has done next to nothing and Chavis has raked. Castillo has consistently given good at bats and played well defensively everywhere they put him, certainly can’t say Castro has, yet he gets a consistent position and opportunity.
Again, don’t take this too far, I’m happy to see anyone get treated in the way I personally think is best for youngsters, I just don’t understand it.
I mean, Castro isn’t even a proven commodity at SS from his minor league journey, so I can’t sit here and say he showed something special there in the minors. I won’t even say I can’t see it working, it’s just another one of those things this team does that seem to willingly defy the methodology they use on others and the reasoning they tend to give the fans through the media.
Ask why Hayes needs to sit so often and they’ll tell you they are trying to keep him healthy, so are we in turn saying we don’t care if Castro dies on the field? I mean, like, is that actually how dire rest is anyway? I’m being extreme to point out how important they seem to think it is for certain players and not others.
It’s things like this that make you wonder less about if the plan is good, but instead is there a plan.
3. If Oscar is the Guy, He Best Show it, and Soon
Oscar Marin came to town with an excellent reputation. A fast riser through coaching circles and a propensity for understanding analytics and implementing their usage into a pitching plan was his hallmark.
Thing is, Oscar lacks one very important thing, a track record of having all his swell ideas and concepts work. At least when he was the one in charge of their implementation.
Listen, I’m gonna beat this dude up a bit here so let me take a minute to build a bit of a haystack for him to land in. He’s impressive to talk to, and his ideas sound terrific when he lays them out. I’ve heard from Derek Shelton that he is a great instructor and one of the hardest workers on the staff.
OK, that’s what I got, hope it’s cushiony enough Oscar.
All that fluff from Derek Shelton might mean something if he himself had a track record outside of the Pirates organization. I only have two coach firings to base anything Derek does on. Joey Cora and Rick Eckstein. Toward the end of Eckstein’s time here, Derek started popping up sticking his fingers in the pie during batting practice and started openly talking about things from a hitting perspective “they” were working on instead of Rick and his group, which was the go to. Joey had some of his sends openly criticized toward the end, but they were also careful to give him credit for defensive improvement, something I think we’re kinda seeing was important.
I can’t say I’ve seen any of that with Marin yet, so this isn’t a prediction of what Pirates management will do as much as my own personal thoughts on the subject.
I’ve asked this question for the best part of a year at least, Who has Oscar Marin made better?
Quick answers will be Bednar and Crowe. I’ll tell you what, before I argue those out, I’ll actually throw the dude a bone and give him Clay Holmes. Bednar showed up here like this, so I’ll give him credit for not having him regress. Crowe, man, I really just think it was a role change. We wrote it here repeatedly last season that Crowe in the bullpen could be great. With that pitch mix pared down to his absolute best and an ability to throw harder not trying to last 6 innings, it could really open up for him. The rest is just him. He’s the one who developed a reliever’s mentality, and started working really fast. He’s the one who cuts bait on whatever pitch he doesn’t have that day.
Clay if you really think back had figured it out before he got shipped. His last outing in San Francisco was just electric. But I give him to Marin because Holmes who was DFA’d re-signed in Pittsburgh to an MiLB deal specifically because he liked what he was doing with Marin.
That’s not enough.
Chad Kuhl refused to happily go to the bullpen and didn’t want to alter his pitch repertoire. His early season in Colorado is showing at least so far he was right.
Mitch Keller has come to camp two straight years looking better than he ended the previous season after working independently with outside coaching. Two straight years he’s shown those improvements in the early Spring. And Two straight years he’s regressed heavily as soon as the team started “coaching him up”.
Hey, maybe he just sucks. Maybe most of the pitchers do.
Should we say Quintana has had his career brought back to life by Marin, or do we maybe assume much like Anderson last year they were too old to get confused by some coach who they just blew off?
Either way I’ll leave it here. You don’t do ALL of this. All the trades, all the drafting, all the scouting, all the get better at baseball camps, grabbing another expert from Tampa and risk it on an unproven up and comer. If you are so foolish as to have done that anyway, you best not live with your mistake too long.
Eventually those kids are all going to be up here, if you have the wrong guy, believe what you’re seeing now, not after he’s helped you waste the next Mitch Keller or Chad Kuhl, or Miguel Yajure, or Roansy Contreras. See what is being painted Pirates, because with the moves you just made, the future is now.
4. All Aboard the Cherington is Tone Deaf Train!
There are ways to tell a fan base that you support your coaching staff without coming across like things are humming along swimmingly. Mr. Cherington has not been given that advice it would seem.
First, he avoided availability with the media this week and his only comments came from team employee Greg Brown playing the rule of hard news hound to the best of his ability in between his patented pressed laughter. To his credit, the questions weren’t the problem, they weren’t soft balls per se, but certainly if this exchange played out in front of a real journo, you’d expect a bit of push back.
Greg Brown on 93.7 the Fan “Are you seeing tangible evidence of these improvements at the big-league level? We’re at the quarter pole now, Ben, just about 40 games in. And you’ve talked a lot about the most important thing, winning games, certainly at the big-league level. What areas are you seeing improvements in and where do you think the team still has work to do?“
CHERINGTON: “We do see progress. We certainly have a lot of work to do to get better. That’ll never stop. But we are seeing real progress in specific areas this year.“
“I think I’d start with, on a team level, just how we are making decisions. How we are preparing for games and making decisions inside the games. You can call it deployment. You can call it whatever you want. I’m really encouraged by the way we’re making decisions in terms of who’s in the lineup, when the pitcher’s in the game, when the pitcher’s out of the game, the strategy.
Now, if that’s say Jason Mackey or Alex Stumpf, I’d like to think they’d have a pretty good reason for a follow up.
Oh he goes on and on, repeating his premise in different ways and ultimately finishing with their preparation, deployment and in-game strategy, are giving them chances to win games.
Man, what team are you watching Ben?
I’m seeing from a preparation standpoint a bunch of starters who look like they’re just meeting an old friend when they pick up a baseball for a start most nights.
From deployment I’m seeing a power hitting first baseman not hit, not field while his backup who doesn’t play nearly as much hits for power and fields. I’m seeing a couple rookies get shots and a couple get benched. I’m seeing Josh VanMeter look like he’s talking himself into not changing careers while at the plate, yet continue to start over Michael Chavis or Diego Castillo. And I’m not even talking about all the guys who we should be wanting to get eyes on in the minors like Bae, Martin, Cruz, or Mitchell. Yeah, deployment.
How about in-game strategy? This team is a one trick pony when it comes to in-game strategy in order to win a ballgame and his name is David Bednar. If they think they can hunt a win, he’s involved. Either giving you 3 or 6 outs, and the most dangerous hitters regardless. That’s great, well the dangerous hitter part anyway, but that’s all I got. Where’s this other in-game stuff he’s seeing?
I could accept something like Look, we have good players on the way, I didn’t want to block them and here we are. But I can’t accept it’s all good, I’m encouraged. I can’t accept good deployment starts Josh VanMeter and Yoshi Tsutsugo over Chavis and Castillo. Not most nights.
I like and believe in the larger plan, but I don’t like or buy into the on field implementation of said plan. I really haven’t liked. If you want to tell me this is going to get better cool, but if you tell me THIS is ok or even something to be proud of, I mean, c’mon, how am I supposed to not laugh in your face?
This team is what I expected, and I stand by saying it’ll be better by the end of the year than it was in April, but I don’t think we need lied to on the way there. All that’ll create is yet another high ranking figure in the management of this franchise that fans don’t trust.
This fool out here telling you to eat the lemon flavored snow is going to do nothing to endear him to the base. The ones who are left can handle and in fact would appreciate honesty.
Either way, stop blaming Derek Shelton, he’s clearly doing everything right according to his GM, and friends, if a boss says that, you just keep doing it don’t you?
5. Run Differential Says They’re Lucky to Be Where They Are
I’ll let my boy Jim Stamm lead this puppy off.
Now, when you get beat 21-0 early in the season and you don’t score a ton of runs chances are you’ll be chasing this rabbit all season and never catch it.
Here’s the thing, it also points to something we’ve probably taken for granted because of the smoldering pooh fire surrounding them, this bullpen has won this team games. Oh I know not every member is lights out, I know some of them have been asked to open, I know David Bednar is being asked to do too much too many nights, but I also know, they’ve stepped up and been money in a bunch of close games.
If you’re looking for hope that the team is just underperforming and it’ll improve, well, you have this number partially created while Bryan Reynolds was in a 2020 like slump, Yoshi hasn’t hit and I guess you could hope he either does or they finally give his at bats to Chavis. Eventually Cruz is going to get up here and you’d hope that at least creates a few more runs. Sure, a rookie that’s here or gets called up not named Cruz could also help, but largely, there just isn’t much coming that’s going to fix -88 in 40 ish games.
Now does it matter? I mean it’s after all a stat from the past, and even if the stat suggests they should only have won 11 contests, the fact remains they’ve won 16. This is no different than a guy who’s hitting .200 having a hot week where he rakes at a .444 clip. Just because a stat says it shouldn’t happen, certainly doesn’t mean it can’t.
Tangibly though, here’s where it shows up. The pitchers for the most part have to look at the daily results that lead up to that number and understand, we can’t make many mistakes. Any professional athlete will tell you if you’re trying to not get hurt or trying to not make mistakes, you’re going to wind up in a body cast with 13 walks.
The starting pitching as a group has been a huge part of this issue and story, but teams are allowed to outscore their opponents sometimes too. I know they know, it happens to them 4 or 5 times a week.
I could also argue, this horrific run differential is actually better than it should be, given the contributions of players they can’t have possibly fathomed providing much. Vogelbach and Ben Gamel have arguably been the most consistent hitters not named Hayes. Heck I’ll even toss in one legged catcher Roberto Perez.
The last point I’ll make here is the Reds earned second to last by beating up the Pirates, this is deserved.
It’s bad, and it won’t get better with this group. Good thing as much as 60% of the opening day roster will either be on someone else’s or in the minors come 2023.
Happy Monday Folks! And enjoy Roansy and Yerry, those are two good ones.