What Used to Be Easy, Now Requires Thought

6-5-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Think back just a bit if you will.

I don’t mean all the way back to 2019 or anything, just this season. It was incredibly easy early on, you’d see a prospect kicking ass and say to yourself, ok, get him up here, lets see what he’s got.

Well, that’s happened now, countless times in fact. Obviously there are more prospects we’re gonna see too. Cruz, Martin, Bae, Madris, Bolton, Smith-Njigba. I mean folks we are going to see Travis Swaggerty today.

It’s been almost a weekly event having new players infuse themselves into the team and here’s the deal, we’re officially to the point where new call ups or returning injured players are going to likely replace someone who just got here.

Chang is an easy cut. Maybe Castro has been here long enough to say he needs more training, but keep thinking. Barring injury what happens when Cruz comes up? Who goes? Diego Castillo? He’s been here all year, hopped wherever the team has put him and generally handled himself well. More than anything, he’s shown the ability to learn at this level.

Maybe Suwinski? His batting average is bad after all, but he leads all rookies in homeruns and this club needs the power like nobody’s business.

Point is, deserving to be here at this point isn’t the only consideration.

You may think Oneil Cruz deserves to be here, lord knows people have been insanely vocal about it, but should we look at Tucapita Marcano and tell him those homeruns and good defense he provided don’t matter? Maybe. I mean some will argue he’s destined to be a bit player while Cruz is a rare talent, but fact is, Marcano was hot when he was called up and he’s continued to be hot.

No longer are we talking about every player being an easy decision to remove.

Let’s take today’s move. Travis Swaggerty comes up, Rodolfo Castro goes down. Maybe this is an easy call for you, I mean Castro has struggled after all, certainly was given ample opportunity to play, even if at a new position for him, but the last straw was an apparent lack of effort running out a grounder.

Here’s the thing that gets lost in the shuffle sometimes, Derek Shelton is starting to assert himself more as he’s finally been given choice. When he suffered through experiments like Ka’ai Tom, I’m sure he expressed his dissatisfaction with the player, but he was just met with the fact nobody was ready and nobody was available. Now we’re seeing guys have a standard to uphold on this club, and it’s very much so Shelton’s standard.

A few weeks back he addressed the club after what he felt was an uninspired, dare I say, lackluster performance against the Cardinals. The team performed better after that, but more importantly the GM made changes. The youth movement was officially on.

Dead weight is almost always a thing, and I’m in no way trying to paint a picture that there’s no room for more prospects. No, I’m just saying it’s not as cut and dried as it’s been.

If they were quick on the trigger with Suwinski, we don’t get to see the power emerge, we probably don’t see how he’s grown to know what’s needed at the plate and wait out a pitcher by wasting pitches until he gets one he can really hit. Is he failing more often than you’d like, sure, but he’s learning, he’s improving and more than anything, he plays the right way. The way Shelton wants him to.

Think about this. The Pirates now have Suwinski, Mitchell, Reynolds, Swaggerty and Marcano as outfield options. 4 of those 5 are Left handed only.

That’s not to say the team can’t do ok with that setup, but they’ll have Gamel (lefty), Canaan Smith-Njigba (lefty), Bligh Madris (lefty), hell, even toss in Oneil Cruz (lefty) if you’d like. At some point you’re going to have to address that this lineup is really one sided.

Why bring this up? Well, decisions at some point might not be solely about who’s best as much as what’s needed. When Greg Allen is healthy for instance, well, he’s a switch hitter, they could really use that bat and speed, but how do you decide one of these home cooked prospects isn’t as important?

Oh yes, I love everything about this process. Baseball decisions, based on baseball performance and need. We could be talking about trades based on getting some right handed bats. Think about it, Michael Chavis represents the best pure right handed bat not named Ke’Bryan Hayes. Teams need that folks.

Now, in the future that’s not going to be as much of an issue potentially, perhaps Henry Davis, Nick Gonzales, Liover Peguero, Matt Gorski, all work their way in and balance the chart out a bit, but for now it’s how the cards have fallen.

Now, we must discuss what to do when health returns for some guys on the IL. These choices all seem easy on the surface I’m quite sure but Yoshi probably should just be cut, Newman has still not seen anyone take hold of SS at least from a pure fielding perspective but I can’t see sending anyone of note out for him. How can VanMeter come back and displace anyone not named Chang?

We’re running out of easy choices, and vanilla decisions.

Now things like effort mean almost as much as numbers. This is simply going to be fun, already is. Enjoy it, because from here on out, this whole thing changes. Let’s talk about building a team, instead of pretending this franchise is ever going to buy one. This was the goal, to flood the system with talent and let it sort itself out through attrition, injury, performance and fit.

Man this is gonna be a blast.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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