Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

11-28-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

The Pirates actually did some things this week, and not surprisingly, yinzers are full of opinions. Some less informed than others, and that knife cuts both ways. Name recognition alone earns Santana some happy Pittsburgh fans, batting average alone loses him some, neither are enough to actually form an opinion.

Some think guys like Mason Martin who never figured out his strikeout issues in AAA should get a shot to play in MLB as if markedly better pitchers would somehow equal increased contact numbers.

Ya know, as complicated as we make some of this stuff, it just isn’t.

Lets go!

1. The Starting Pitching Scene

They have to get a starting pitcher. It’s one of the most obvious needs the team has and by having no lefties they’ve also locked themselves in a bit to a specificity that makes it harder. Ben Cherington has acknowledged this need, pledged to address it, and floated that a multi year deal might be used for this spot.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s out there via Free Agency.

Sean Manea – 30 years old – Estimated value 12 Million per season

Andrew Heaney – 31 years old – Estimated value 11-12 Million per season

Drew Smyly – 33 years old – Estimated value 14 Million per season

Matt Boyd – 31 years old – Estimated value 6-7 Million per season

Danny Duffy – 33 years old – Estimated value 8-10 Million per season

Jose Quintana – 33 year old – Estimated value 14 Million per season

Now, that’s a nice grouping, but if I’m the Pirates I don’t wait until the pickins get slim. Internally I’ve heard Manea most, and I’ve also heard Quintana estimated by the Pirates to be up to 18 Million per. Take both of those for what they’re worth but bottom line the Pirates have options here if they get in the game early. A bunch of teams will aim for what they see best and ignore the second and third tier players.

Andrew Heaney interests me quite a bit, and a two year 24 million dollar deal could probably get it done. No matter what, the Pirates have to have this position filled and if that means getting creative and moving someone to get it that way, they should without hesitation.

2. Oneil Cruz is Playing Winter Ball

Yeah, he’s still looking good.

Really look at that swing. He’s way out in front and able to slow himself down while still generating enough power and bat speed to put the ball over the fence.

That’s really the differentiator for Cruz, his margin for error is larger than most because of his ability to generate power multiple ways. He can be early and still get enough to pop it to right. He can wait too long and take it deep the other way.

The sweet spot for Cruz is just bigger, and that’s why he’s so very worth being excited about.

Enjoy him. Hope they do something uncharacteristic and keep him longer. But do enjoy what you know you’re getting.

3. Are They Signing Roberto Perez or What?

They’re in no hurry.

Before the season ended, interest was expressed from both sides, but the Pirates said they needed to be sure he was healthy first. Fully healthy.

As far as I’ve heard, that hasn’t been shown or investigated beyond rehabbing with the team late in the season.

Plenty of time yet, but the Pirates are looking at other options as well. Perez makes a bunch of sense, but I have to admit, I’d prefer they find someone who has a bit better history of staying on the field.

Even when Endy Rodriguez gets to MLB, they will need a player to fill in. I suspect they’ll want Endy to continue to play other positions on occasion if only because until I hear otherwise Henry Davis is also still in their future plans behind the plate.

Moral of the story, they need a guy, and they’ll get a guy.

I’m not going to get sweaty about one former player who expressed interest.

4. Is .500 Plausible?

First of all, that would be an almost 20-game improvement. That’s a jump, one that very few teams make.

So can you see it? Can I see it?

I’m not sure.

I’d have to walk my way through the roster and see if I like where they are better than I did at the beginning of 2022. On the pitching front, I can honestly say, I feel better about Keller, more confident about Roansy, even on Brubaker, and I like Oviedo’s chance to be decent but until they show us the complete work, it’s hard to say. The prospects close to the league give me encouragement too.

The hitters, there’s no way to really do this without “what ifs”. First base will be better, or at least more steady. A full season on Cruz is sure to help. Have to imagine some of the rookies on the doorstep come in and help.

Bullpen when healthy isn’t bad looking, but they need more.

All that to say, I don’t know. It’s a lot to ask, but if this whole thing is going to work, young players not near their apex need to keep improving. Suwinski needs to be more consistent, Reynolds needs to improve his RISP hitting, Hayes needs to stay healthy and hit for more damage.

As I sit here right now, I’ll say it’s probably a bit too big of a jump, but if they add the right pieces in the right places, it’s plausible.

In other words, if they make .500, it’ll be because they invested enough to reach it, not lucky performances.

5. Is Miguel Andujar a Lock to Make the Roster?

I’m not so sure. He’s probably a DH and a corner outfielder as this roster takes shape. I really doubt he gets first base time, and I thought that before they signed Santana. The Pirates signed him already, a one year deal worth 1.525 Million.

That’s not a ton of money, but still makes him unlikely to be cut this Spring. Still, knowing the Pirates still have more youngsters to see and more players to bring in, his opportunity doesn’t figure to be all that big.

Even thinking about how borderline Andujar is comforts me. It means the roster is getting better, and it also means good enough doesn’t equal stop trying when it comes to improving a position.

Should the Pirates sign an outfielder, man it’s going to be tough for Miguel to survive the chopping block.

Something to keep an eye on.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

3 thoughts on “Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

  1. That means the Pirates will not be signing an additional outfielder.  Assuming Andujar is healthy, I see him making the opening day roster.  Pirates are not throwing away money especially in a season in which they are not going all in on to reach the playoffs.  Any potential trade(s) could give us further clarification.  

    Great news your provided on Cruz.  I do not see Quintana getting anywhere near 18 million.  However, if he does more power to him.  

    Liked by 1 person

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