Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

5-29-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

The Pirates are out on a West Coast trip and sometimes that means things slip through the cracks, other times, it means fans have nothing but the “news” to pay attention to and that creates a narrative all it’s own.

This week I’m coming to you from Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

1. Ke’ Gets Rewarded

Ke’Bryan Hayes has been right there for a few weeks. Swinging the way he wants to, getting some good results here and there but mostly just not quite getting to pitches exactly where he wants to.

Finally he got to one and put the ball out for a three run shot and got his club the W in San Diego.

Now, Hayes is likely not a guy who’s going to hit 30 homeruns, at least not until he feels the need to alter his approach as his skill set changes through the years, but he’s also a guy who hits the ball hard enough he should have a few more than he does, and on this team, he might as well be Frank Thomas.

2. What Do I Have to Do?

More than once this season I’ve had minor league players reach out to me and simply ask do you think the team notices XX that I’m doing? Or, I don’t understand why I’m not getting playing time, how am I supposed to show my improvement?

Anyone who’s done this stuff for a decent amount of time will tell you, this happens a lot. Well, the reaching out part, the confusion/seeking of direction, well, not so much until this season for me anyway.

I should also add, this is a wide swath of players, young and getting older, but one common theme is, not understanding what it takes to get called up. Call up a guy like Hoy Park to fill an OF role and boom, questions. Call up a guy from AA instead of AAA, boom questions.

Most of the time they just want to know if you’ve heard anything specifically about them but other times it’s a simple hope that someone, even if just a dumb blogger and podcaster has noticed what they’ve done recently.

This isn’t to tell you the Pirates are destroying the system as much as to say, these are real people, with real lives, putting in real effort every day. and none of them like guessing about what they need to do to get to the next stop.

Even as they’re happy for their teammates who get the call. Even as they actively root for their teammates to succeed. Every one of these guys is a competitor.

3. Oneil Cruz’ Attitude Problem

I should start by saying this, I’ve had exactly zero people tell me there is a hint of truth to this. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, doesn’t mean he hasn’t said something here or there, but I can’t find anyone who believes there is really an issue here.

And believe me, I’ve heard it without asking for some guys.

The first time I really saw this stuff start was way back after the incident in the Dominican. Some decided right there, that day he was a bad guy, and even being cleared of wrongdoing wasn’t enough to entirely have people say, ok he’s alright, I was real quick to judge. You know, cause that’s people in the social media world.

Now it’s partially been created to illustrate just how disgruntled he is with the way he’s being managed or held back in the system. Things like looking at his watch when he hits a dinger, or his Spanish language interview have been the catalyst.

He’s so mad when he plays outfield don’t you know?!

Yeah, maybe, but here’s what I heard, do with it as you will.

When asked about wanting to play the outfield, he of course said no in his interview. That’s what it was though, an answer to a question. Kinda like my wife asking me if I want to bike 4 miles to some place for coffee, without having had coffee first. No is a great answer, but it doesn’t mean I’ll never want to do it, or I’m ok to try it, but do I right this second WANT to? Hell no.

The watch thing, initially was about saying it was time for him to get the call. Now it’s more like ‘Cruz Time’.

He’s a good teammate by all accounts, he’s got a strong will to try what he wants for his path, but he’s not a stupid man, and sees that his path to the majors could be different than he would like.

Bottom line, very largely overblown.

Also, no need to get hung up on the batting average, I’m told the team isn’t. What he’s being asked to work on, he is and his average is of little concern for now.

Will he be a star? Who knows, but nothing happening right now is going to lead to 6 years of disgruntled player.

4. When Building Something, Maybe Get a Mason

Now, the only thing I can figure on why this team hasn’t called up Mason Martin quite yet is that they don’t think they’re done with Yoshi, Vogelbach and Chavis, which, they probably aren’t, but I’m sorry, when there is a clear need and you go to Josh VanMeter and Hoy Park for answers while this dude is plowing homeruns in Indy, ain’t no way you avoid criticism.

The best I could get from anyone on Mason was, he’s working hard and showing the adjustments are working.

He pumped his fist after hitting a homerun the other day, I’ll have to assume he’s really disgruntled and filled with team directed rage. (insert sarcasm emoji)

It’s clear he’s at least going to get a shot to be the first baseman on this club. He may not be the one who lasts through but a shot he’ll get, and I’d imagine an extended one. Might as well start now if you ask me.

More than anything, this team needs to stop acting like positions are just for show. Actually knowing what you’re doing at a position in the majors is kinda a big deal.

5. Cherington isn’t a God

In 2019 Ben Cherington started making moves and in 2019 fanboys started talking about the infallibility of his plan. They ignored that his plan at least publicly was rather vague, they ignored that his last GM stop in Boston ended at least a little weird. They ignored that this is the Pirates and a GM’s job here is always going to be harder.

He’s done well to stock the system, and fruit is starting to ripen.

As predicted way back when though, if you paint him as a deity, you’re bound to be disappointed. No GM does everything right, to everyone. They make stupid or stubborn moves, they fall in love with inferior players, they dislike a prospect you love. Sometimes they support a coach you don’t believe in or some, cough, all, manipulate service time.

Criticizing Ben Cherington has been A OK for his entire tenure, it’s just to some everything is as stark as blue pill, red pill. He’s either all bad or all perfect. When Hoy Park is the call up to address no first baseman, well, it’s hard to defend or understand, so, boom, all bad.

I’ve always cautioned to evaluate everything as you go, this is why. Because when he deserves criticism, you won’t have to act like everything you believed in was a lie when ultimately something counter is done.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

2 thoughts on “Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

  1. I’m guessing that you’re referring to Cruz and Martin about not knowing what they have to do. I have to question that. Isn’t martin striking out at over 35% of the time in May? I’d say it’s clear that’s a problem and I’m certain the coaches are working with him. I also believe Cruz committed 6 or 7 errors in the last week. Again, I’d say his area of needed work is pretty clear.


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