Pirates Questions – Answered

2-2-23 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

I get questions all the time. Sometimes I answer them directly on social media, sometimes I make them topics on my show, others still make it into some of my FAQ pieces.

Today, I wanted to get some fresh ones and asked the Twitterverse to pitch in. Here’s what they came up with, and what I have to say about them.

Hope you like it, and please do follow all these fine Bucco fans on Twitter if you partake.

Not necessarily Pirates, but which affiliate are you most excited about in 2023?

Originally tweeted by Michael – 412 DoublePlay Podcast 🏴‍☠️ (@412DoublePlay) on February 1, 2023.

First, Michael has a fairly young podcast out there, give it a listen, tell him what you think.

OK, my gut reaction is to say Greensboro, because I think as the year plays out some of the more interesting players should either start there or end there. For instance, Bubba Chandler should start there, Anthony Solometo, Po-Yu Chen should too. Jase Bowen, Tsung-Che Cheng and Sammi Siani who I feel like has been in the system for 23 years at this point should too. At some point Jasiah Dixon, Thomas Harrington and JP Massey if they perform well could also make the roster. And we can’t forget, number one pick Termarr Johnson should also start out there I’d bet where he’ll take advantage of the short porch in right to pad his homerun numbers so Craig and I can tell you not to trust the power numbers for a year or so.


For the first time in what feels like a decade, Indianapolis will house a damn near roster full of guys who could very well make MLB this year. I love the idea of seeing years of hard work finally make it to one step away. There aren’t any cupcake openings on the MLB team this year either, so good chance their rotation looks like a prospect junkie’s wet dream. We could see a nice stretch of Cody Bolton, Quinn Priester, Mike Burrows, Luis Ortiz, and Johan Oviedo. Folks, coupled with all the offensive talent they’ve piled on the doorstep like Nick Gonzales, Endy Rodriguez, Mason Martin, Malcom Nunez, all the guys who don’t make the big club in the infield and outfield, probably Henry Davis before too long, man that’s a potentially championship squad.

Final answer: The AAA Indianapolis Indians

Predictions for Hayes and Keller this year?

Originally tweeted by NYBucsfan (@BucsfanNY) on February 1, 2023.


If Keller has a great first half what might the timeline and numbers be on an extension?

Originally tweeted by Count bleck (@iCountBleck) on February 1, 2023.

I’m ganging these two together, just feels like they overlap a bit.

First thing I’ll tackle is Hayes. Let’s start with this, I’ve asked people who should know, and confirmed it with some beat writer friends, and right now, Ke’Bryan feels completely healthy. For the best part of two straight years now he’s been almost unable to pull the baseball and it’s turned him into an easier to face hitter than he should be.

The hard hit rate has remained more than acceptable, but according to those same folks who say he’s healthy, his physical issues caused him to simply not be able to turn over on the baseball, robbing him of pull side power and in general getting in his head. I do think Hayes will have a better season offensively, but let’s be really clear on Ke’, he was never an offensive juggernaut save his callup in 2020. That was the outlier.

He did start showing last season a willingness to use his speed on the base paths a bit more last year, so if he gets going with the bat, and isn’t so dead locked in on swinging at everything away, I think he’ll more than earn his keep in the lineup. Coupled with his defense, let’s just say he’s the least of my worries, but if he’s really good, this is a really good offense, if he isn’t, it’s average at best. He really is a key.

Now, onto Keller. I expect big things from Mitch this year.

Should he fully realize that emergence he started to show last season in 2023 the Pirates will have to make retaining him a priority. Even as they have plenty of arms coming, we all know how highly touted Mitch himself was, and here we are in year 4 with fingers crossed he replicates his second half from 2022. When you develop them, you better keep some of them at least.

He’ll have 2 years of arbitration, and this year he’s making about 2.4 Million. If he’s really good, like an ERA around 4, maybe a touch under with a decent WHIP like 1.125 or so, he’s going to get a significant raise. Probably as high as 5 or 6. If I’m the Pirates and want to get this done, I go in with 5 years, which buys two years of arbitration that could be worth about 16 million, and offer 55 or 60. It gives him more money in year 1 and 2 than he’d likely have made, and a decent wage in years 3-4. It also keeps him movable just in case he does get passed by the prospects at some point. This would keep him through 2028, and I honestly feel that’s about right.

Do you think Roansy has what it takes to become the ace of the staff or do you think he settles as a 3 or 2?

Originally tweeted by Canyon 🏴‍☠️ (@SwartzCanyon) on February 1, 2023.

If you know me, I don’t use Number 1, Number 5, really any of that. I tend to use Top and bottom of the rotation. Reason for that, first I don’t think it’s fair to the players really. Like what is Justin Verlander on the Mets? Is he a 1 or is he a 2 because he’s with Max Scherzer? Or are you one of those folks who likes to go with “they’ve got two 1’s”. I just don’t like it. I think Roansy has everything in him to be a top end of the rotation pitcher.

I’d also add here while I’m on the pulpit, if you have 5 “3’s”, you probably have a top ten rotation in this league and with no more one game play in wild cards, it’s not the imperative it used to be. Of course you’d take that clear cut top guy, but you can do quite well with a stable of really good too.

In order to achieve that this year, he’ll have to incorporate his curveball and changeup a bit more in my mind to maximize the deceptiveness of the slider and keep guys from sitting on the heater. Now to really be a top end of the rotation guy, he’d have to handle a higher volume of innings this year. I think the team will hold him around 150ish, so maybe he doesn’t make it to whatever you consider top of the rotation this year, but he sure could look the part. Last season he went through pitch tipping, and conquered it relatively quickly, that speaks well to his ability to push back and I thing he’ll be doing that a lot in 2023. Scouts are really good at what they do and much like Francisco Liriano back in the day, at some point the book on him will be wait him out instead of chasing. So key for me with Ro is to learn to come a little closer to the zone with the slider a bit more often. Don’t have to live on the black, but you do have to make guys feel like it’s dangerous to take.

What’s the optimal spot in the lineup for Cruz this season? I thought one thing before the offseason and probably feel differently now.

Originally tweeted by Nick Cammuso (@npc210) on February 1, 2023.

Most of you know, last year I was a very early advocate for batting him leadoff. And I mean before they started actually doing it which made some people think I might know a thing or two, lol.

I wanted him there because they pissed around with him for so long I felt he needed to get as many at bats as possible, for mathematical reasons only, that’s leadoff.

Now, this dude could hit 30 homeruns without improving. That certainly doesn’t disqualify him from leading off, but man, you’d like to see him hit some of those with guys on base.

Who knows what captain lineup change is going to do this year. I’d like to believe he won’t have 150+ different lineups this year, but I of course can’t guarantee that. I will say, when he feels a guy is now a fixture he tends to like to leave them be.

The only natural leadoff hitter they have is Ji-hwan Bae and look, we don’t even know if he’ll make the team, let alone play every day. Ideally though, I’d like to see Reynolds batting second and Cruz third.

I think that gives him RBI opportunity, still ensures a first inning AB for some instant offense, and provides Bryan Reynolds some much needed protection in the lineup. Follow him up with Santana and he’ll see pitches often enough, plus bookended by switch hitters with power, he might get less late inning lefties to face.

Another reason to move him down a bit, as much as the Pirates have done to improve the roster, Hedges is going to have to bat somewhere. Explicitly for this reason I’d probably bat him 8th just so you have a shot at the 9 hole starting the ball rolling before you get to the top again, but either way, until Endy is up, I think I’d just as soon keep Cruz at 3.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

One thought on “Pirates Questions – Answered

  1. to me and I’d love to see the Pirates do it have a speedster hit 9th someone like Swaggerty then have Bae bat leadoff in essence you’d be having two leadoff type hitters & ideally have better run production so I agree hedges is an ideal #8 hitter

    Liked by 1 person

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