Should You Boycott the Pirates?

12-22-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

I see a whole lot of upset. Tons of same old Pirates. Calls for boycotts, pressure campaigns, demonstrations. Walk outs, no shows, heck I even saw someone suggest people get in Nutting’s face every time he’s in public, you know, cause it works so well in society at solving problems.

Chances are, most of the people espousing this already are.

What’s funny to me is, this team is right on the cusp of showing improvement. Young players will improve, others won’t, new, and more highly touted prospects will replace them.

You can argue it if you want, that’s fine. But most honest people can see that even while spending nothing more than what it takes to retain arbitration guys and a few reasonable contracts with primarily internally developed talent, they’ll get better.

That to me has never been a question. The system is in good shape, there are enough on the way to account for plenty to not make it and still come up with something.

The question to me has always been will Bob Nutting do what is necessary when the time comes to kick them over the edge, or keep the core together for a couple extra years. I think I knew the answer, still do, but the team getting to a point where they’re playing good baseball and winning a lot more games, I still like where they are.

I said in 2020 they should be ready for .500 by 2023, and I don’t think that’s out of the realm of possibility.

Next year, I expect them to truly push for a playoff spot.

Now, these have been my expectations, not everyone’s. Some people never liked this plan, others completely disagree with the need to even attempt a rebuild.

Some people believe the Pirates could simply choose to spend as much as they want. People truly do believe this. I simply don’t have the energy to try to convince anyone differently.

For tonight, I simply want to talk about what is, not what should be. I want to talk about what we know is happening regardless of the owner.

This is a full on system and team reboot. It was going to be painful.

The fans who are most upset, are the ones that can’t see the logic in playing guys with no real chance at becoming a fixture here after trading good players away. Let’s start here.

If you decide you have to reload the system, you have to get top end talent from somewhere. You have the draft, you have assets you can trade, and once you decide to head in this direction, you often also have time.

If I’m trading a 5th year All Star for two 19 year olds who might pan out, it’s going to be at least 2 or 3 years later. Now if a team trades all those guys for young prospects, they could immediately go get vets and fill the roster, try to give the fans some fun, probably not be very good, but you aren’t losing 100 games either. Some fans would prefer this, I mean, I probably would like it more too, but it’s certainly not the path this GM chose.

Make no mistake, he chose instead to empty the roster, acquire as much talent as he could and fill the roster with literal hopes and prayers. This very much so, as evidenced by what you’ve watched, does lead to 100 loss seasons.

It also leads to 4 strait top of the board draft picks.

Can you do this with slightly higher picks, and a better record? Sure you can. Lots of teams do that. The Rockies follow that method. They keep some stars, they make a splash in free agency on occasion, they even get close to competing every once in a while. Never too awful low, never too awful high, but almost always an entertaining team with guys you recognize as Rockies.

The Cubs have done both. Currently they’re in a rebuild and instead of just stinking, they went right after picking and choosing some holes to fill. Probably not enough to get anywhere quickly, but if a few of their nice prospects hit, they can just pile on and already have a nice core they built in place.

When they won it all, they completely blew it up, stunk out loud, then brought up a crop of youngsters to let them learn, excel and grow together. That’s the team they just broke up.

The Pirates don’t have the money the Cubs do, but they are still capable of doing either method.

Fact is, this GM doesn’t want to. You can say it’s Bob’s budget, and to be fair, it’s more that Ben wanted to build a system from the ground up, and do this his way, so they’re probably a perfect match.

His way, well, it calls for what the Cubs did. Right down to trading for starting pitching that hadn’t caught on like Jake Arrieta, along with Pedro Strope for Steve Clevinger and Scott Feldman. They hit on both. Arrieta was a total long shot, and he became Cy Young level in Chicago.

Of course after that the Cubbies spent and got it where it needed to go.

Point is, Arrieta and guys like him are exactly why a GM takes a swing on reclamation projects and Waiver claims while their young talent is just gelling or coming close to making the league.

So what if Cherington is right? What if he pulls this off and builds enough talent to add on with his constraints to win? Or what if he manages to make a go of pulling off a Tampa like system where the roster has turnover every year and the system provides whatever the team is going to be the next year regardless of outcome.

Thing is, I personally don’t think you can ultimately get there without spending. Spending just through attrition by 2026 or so, should be up around 130 or so. That’s just arb projection. It’s probably like 150 if a few of these guys turn into stars. Even they can do that and will.

I suspect if they win nobody will care how they got there. I also think few will remember the actual payroll number if they win.

Back to the beginning, you want to boycott now?

Ok, do you, but it’s kinda funny to me to start that stuff right when the arrow starts pointing up a bit.

That said, yinz have been telling me for years there would be nobody there to watch it so I guess we’ll find out won’t we?

This franchise has given fans more than enough reason to not believe anything will ever work. I’m just saying, have you ever considered it just might?

Because if we’re completely truthful with ourselves, we’re really just angry they didn’t do it the way we wanted, or thought we deserved. Maybe we do deserve better every year, maybe that’s what this GM believes he’ll be providing after we fight through these painful seasons.

That’s a lot to ask of fans, in any market really. Look how hard it is for the Red Sox to admit they really should just start over. They’re holding on to a guy here, and a guy there, nobody who’s a bonafide team carrier. Just listless, and not competing in a division they used to spend to stay in.

There are about a billion ways to go about this process. We just don’t like the one this GM chose. And he thinks in this market, it’s the best possible way to get to and maintain a competitive team.

Who’s right?

History says whoever says spending is neat.

When your options are limited though, you have to take everything into account. Can we ever spend like the top third of the league? No, and even if you think Bob is taking home half a billion a year (he isn’t) you know they can’t. If you can’t, you better develop some of the super star talent yourself.

Don’t go if you like. Don’t watch either. No bobble heads. No summer nights sitting at the Fat Head’s bar. That’s all your choice, and yours alone.

Picket and demonstrate, get the mayor in the parking lot with a bullhorn. Whatever. Nobody will miss Bob if you’re successful, and the team won’t move regardless, MLB won’t allow it. Do your worst.

Meanwhile, I think I’m probably going to be watching a team that looks like it’s turning a corner. Not perfect, but much improved. It’ll be fun, and what I’ve waited 3 long years for. I’m not into missing it after all that, personally, again, you do you.

I’ll let you know when I pass you on the picket line.

Happy Cancelling everyone!

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

2 thoughts on “Should You Boycott the Pirates?

  1. No boycott that could backfire. The Pirates have less than eight years on their lease and nothing prevents them from moving once the lease expires. Continue to voice complaints about Bob Nutting’s refusal to spend money to build a contender. If the Pittsburgh sports media gets enough feedback from fans they will be compelled to comment on it. Eventually that will be a major topic on sports radio and TV. Nutting will eventually have to comment. And we can hear from his own lips whether or not the is really committed to building a contender and when.

    Liked by 1 person

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