The Pirates Will Retain Some of These IL Players

6-9-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Listen, there’s a reason I was able to see all this youth coming up during 2022 and still predicted only 70 wins this year. Rookies tend to look like rookies.

It’s also why I’ve always been so careful to tell you this season would be fun as opposed to “good”. There are all these kids coming and that’s super exciting but that comes with growing pains and frustration too.

All that and with how Bryan Reynolds has performed so far, well, let’s just say they could actually be doing better.

If you look real close at what Bryan has done, its bad, but it’s bad for Bryan. Jack Suwinski who we’re all stoked about just hit his 7th homerun and has an average right where Bryan’s is. Which is killer for a rookie summoned directly from AA but not so much for the team’s All Star centerfielder.

The pithing has really been good as of late. Since the Bryse Wilson for Roansy Contreras switch, it’s been just plain solid.

So we’ve said all that great stuff mixed with an underperforming performer and I guess it almost sounds like I should reevaluate my 70 win prediction right? Yeah, not so fast.

This team is super young, and honestly about to get younger still. They’re on the cusp of calling up #3 prospect Oneil Cruz and he’ll likely play short stop. He’ll also likely make some errors. If he partners that with a flurry of bombs and finally provides a consistent middle of the order run producer, it’s hardly going to be an issue this year anyway, but it’s not going to maximize what he can provide either.

Everywhere else there’s youth we’ve been watching, and one thing youth does in baseball is they feed off each other. Good and bad.

If they take off in a direction, sometimes the entire lineup will follow along. Again, good and bad.

That’s why I caution everyone to maybe be looking at some of these guys returning from injury with open arms as opposed to being angry that it means some kid has to go.

Oh it might not be what you want to see when it happens, it might not be what feels smart even, but on the bright side, it’s not permanent either.

Some of these guys will show themselves to need a bit more seasoning. More importantly some of these veterans are simply going to come back.

Ben Gamel when healthy is the same guy not 3 weeks ago many of you wanted to retain for a couple years, or not trade at a minimum this deadline. So when he is healthy, since I derailed myself already, it stands to reason you kinda can’t have Travis Swaggerty, Cal Mitchell, Jack Suwinski, Bryan Reynolds and Gamel himself on the club. I mean you could, but not sure you should.

Jack has hit for power and he’s up to .233, and on top of that has really taken to the 3 spot in the lineup recently. Ummm, he’s safe. Cal Mitchell, well, he’s hit a couple homeruns, looks ready honestly. Like, he may ultimately not be good enough of a fielder, but what I mean to say is he doesn’t look like he needs to go down and learn anything, ya know?

Swaggerty just got here, so too early to say much really there, all I can say really is you don’t call up a number one pick to give him limited action for a week or two and then demote him.

So, while I won’t predict who goes for Gamel, I will say it’s likely that Cal is the odd man out, right or wrong.

But you need a guy like Gamel. Need his leadership, have to have guys like that around to teach youngsters how to be a big leaguer, more than that, a guy who has hung on the fringes of being a big leaguer and out worked others like him to become someone a team wanted enough to send another back down.

Those are lessons you simply have to experience to understand. Important lessons that turn fringe prospects into Jordy Mercer or Josh Harrison. Have to have that stuff folks.

I’d cut loose Yoshi Tsutsugo, but I get the impression they won’t and more importantly, I’m hearing it from beat guys who tend to be pretty shy about statements like that.

You don’t have to be ok with this move, I won’t be either, and I won’t even try to understand it. See, I can justify Gamel based on what he’ll provide both in lessons and play, but Yoshi, well if he isn’t going to hit homeruns, I’m sorry, I don’t want to teach the kids that having a power tool doesn’t mean it’ll ever amount to a career.

Van Meter looks to come back, maybe even Greg Allen although he just suffered a setback in his rehab. Point is, we could see some of these guys, heck I didn’t even mention Kevin Newman and honestly of everyone I mentioned I have the least amount of doubt he’ll be back.

I’m sure many of you think that’s the worst of them all, but try to remember what Clint Barmes provided to those early 2010’s teams. Again, I’m not saying you have to like it, but at least be prepared for it.

This is a youth movement but even though you’re all the way done with Kevin Newman, he’s this organizations best defensive short stop until proven otherwise, and that has value, both to the Pirates, and potentially to a trade partner.

I’m not going to predict who goes for whom right here, because I legitimately believe there is an open competition to decide that going on, but some of these guys minimally are going to come back and join this baseball team. It won’t mean the prospects that go are done, it won’t mean the player that returns will be here come August, it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll be here next Spring, but it is part of this process.

It’s nice to have guys who’ve had say, 1,000 at bats in the bigs. That’s valuable. They’ve seen things, they have experience they can pass on and they also act as message reinforcements in the clubhouse. This is “our way”, you know, rah rah shiz like that.

I still don’t see this winding up being a year this club flirts with .500. I see it as a year to improve over the last. Get to know some new faces. Start to accept some as fixtures. Slowly say goodbye to others, and ultimately start looking forward to building on what shakes out this season.

That’s me, I know to some that means 70 wins sucks dude. To me, it’s an expected part of this process, and selfishly, one of my favorite things to watch in the world. Some of these kids I’ve been watching for 3 or 4 years already. To see a kid like Cal Mitclell come up here, man, it’s incredible. I’ve seen him play live at 4 different stops in his young career now, hell I’ve seen him hit a homerun in 3 of them. I was upset when he wasn’t protected from the Rule 5 Draft, relieved when the draft was cancelled, and thrilled to watch him shove it up the Pirates butt this year from the first game he played until he forced his call up.

So when I sit here and tell you I kinnnda expect him to get sent back for Ben Gamel, it’s not because I see these guys as chess pieces, its because I expect it and I know it’s best for the overall culture.

We’re all going to ignore all this stuff and fight each other on social media about almost every one of these events, but hey, what the hell, I tried to prepare you, and yes, ok, myself too. This part isn’t always easy to understand, or digest, but I’ll try like hell to explain it, to me and you both.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

2 thoughts on “The Pirates Will Retain Some of These IL Players

  1. Great piece. There are going to be some disappointed fans, that’s for sure. I can’t help but hope that you’re wrong about Yoshi. I’d also like to see Van Meter go, especially with the plethora of other options including Newman.


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