1-1-23 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
After today, I’m going to turn most of my attention to Spring Training, position battles, and roster construction. Might as well finish the year with a fun one. Today, I’m going to give the Pirates some achievable resolutions that could help the organization in one way or another.
Let’s do it.
10. Plan & Announce a Replacement Event for Pirates Fest
The Pirates haven’t publicly addressed why there won’t be a Pirates Fest this year. Look, fans have plenty of reasons to be mad at this team, I can’t say this would have been a well attended event. But Pirates Fest also used to be about facing the music a bit.
There was a day, and I mean during really really bad stretches of baseball, where Bob Nutting himself would greet fans at the door to the convention center and thank them for supporting the team.
Everything they say are just words, and most would not believe what they have to say, but the exercise itself, the physical act of putting themselves in front of the paying customers, that gave fans at least the mirage of being heard.
This was a mistake, and I’d like to see them develop and announce how they’ll remedy it for next year.
9. Let Talent Win
Every team to a degree has to play this game. You have a guy you’re paying to play somewhere, and a prospect looks better but not so much better that you feel it’s worth eating the money or losing someone you value.
That stuff I think you just have to deal with as a fan, it’s life in baseball and for the most part fans understand it. What I’m talking about is if you give a guy like Vince Velazquez a shot at the rotation, and he is soundly beaten, don’t be afraid to allow him to be beaten.
Vince can still work out in the bullpen, so it wouldn’t be wasted money, just don’t suffer through trying to keep a promise while an upgrade pitches in AAA, I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.
8. Coach to Talent, not to Conformity of Process
If a guy has speed, bunts well, gets on base a bunch and steals bases, he should continue to do all those things when he gets to the Bigs. Far too often the Pirates over the years have sacrificed much of that good small ball skill set for the 8 homeruns they could possibly hit swinging out of their shoes.
Thinking like this largely got Adam Frazier labeled as inconsistent.
Let’s embrace that a good team will have players that can do different things, and situationally, there is a place for each and every one of them. When you’re building internally, more than most, you have no choice at all but to embrace it. You simply aren’t going to develop 8 thirty homerun guys, and lord knows they aren’t buying it either.
7. Look at Reality, & Adapt the Path
This Bryan Reynolds situation has a ton of tentacles. The Pirates aren’t ready to move him, and regardless of how you feel about the process, Bryan himself will show up and play well. He understands what’s going on here too.
I I’m the Pirates though, I look at this year and the depth chart in the system for outfielders and come to Jesus a bit here. The likelihood that Reynolds talent can be replaced internally is really small, at least not in the time frame they’re looking for.
Replacing him with a comparable talent on the open market, well, it’ll wind up costing more.
For once, step up and pay this guy, it’s really hard to see this coming together if you don’t.
At least not soon.
6. Where a Player Wants to Play Matters, but So Does Winning
I’m not a guy who feels Oneil Cruz can’t play SS, or the Bryan Reynolds stinks in Center, but I am a guy who thinks the Pirates defense looks better with Reynolds in Left Field and Bae in Center.
I am a guy who thinks Cruz has the skills to play SS, but as we just discussed the outfield and how hard it will be to replace a talent like Reynolds, well, maybe not if they aren’t stubborn.
There are so many players who don’t get that sort of sway in what happens to them, the message shouldn’t be inconsistent, it should simply be the best players play, and the best players play where they help the most.
5. If There’s an Early Long Term Injury, Do Something Positive
If you want to get 3 months out of a guy and he lasts a week, instead of replacing the player with waiver claims or independent league signings, how about making a trade from all the depth you have no hope of running through prospect wise and bring in an actual living breathing baseball player?
We saw this play out with catcher and pitching last year, and while I see them as having both spots more fortified, should a guy like Hedges go down early they’d be doing a disservice to everyone else they signed or brought in to pretend they can just let it be filled with dreck.
Three choices would be presented. Let Endy learn on the job. Promote someone who a week prior wasn’t good enough (because hint hint, he isn’t good enough), or trade for someone who is good enough if you really and truly believe Endy isn’t there yet.
Either way, they’ve done too much to sit on their hands this time.
4. Don’t Kill David Bednar
I know it’s tempting. I even know he wants to do it. But David Bednar getting multiple inning saves, needs to die like disco.
Countless reasons to do this, some about the team’s performance, others about his own career and longevity.
He looks like a bell cow, and acts like a bell cow, but if you want him to be an effective and consistent closer, take care of him.
3. Judge, Evaluate and if Necessary Replace
Andy Haines, Derek Shelton, Oscar Marin, everyone.
There should be no safe spaces and even if you don’t believe the team has done much, they’ve at least given Derek and his staff enough that for the very first time, we as fans and media can properly evaluate the job being done.
No longer will we be able to say, oh well how could he make better bullpen choices, look at who’s there. We won’t be able to ignore the poor hitting skills by way of blaming a bunch of rookies for not getting it.
Nope, Ben Cherington if nothing else has taken all the rocks away they used to hide behind.
For the masses that thought Derek Shelton was a starter coach, this year will likely either prove you right or have you pull your hair out.
2. Don’t Wait for Oneil Cruz to Eliminate Doubt
Risk, there is nothing scarier when you don’t have the advantage of unlimited resources.
But without risk, there simply is going to be no reward.
Oneil Cruz isn’t a sure thing, at least not to become a complete player. Seems pretty logical he’ll hit well enough to be a top third of the league offensive threat, but if he shows himself to be well rounded too, forget signing him.
That will happen as early as this year folks.
Much like with Reynolds, the Pirates are not obligated to extend players like this, they can just take the 6 or 7 years of control depending on how they manipulated service time and call it a day, but if Cruz becomes anywhere close to his projected ceiling, it’s hard to imagine just happily letting that walk away.
No, I think they need to make this leap of faith this year, and as of now, he’s not even been approached.
1. Treat Every Game Like it Matters
The need to have a weekly Sunday lineup makes sense for a team that is going to win 90 games and call it a disappointment. A team like this, not so much.
Play the best you have most of the time, and if you must rest everyone every week, maybe don’t group them all together into one sure to be loss of a game. It’s not fair to whomever you start that day on the mound, and it’s not fair to the team either.
Try to win. You say the record matters, show it.