3-30-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
From the moment Ben Cherington and Company took over the day-to-day Baseball Operations of the Pittsburgh Pirates, one overarching mantra has been promoted throughout the organization. And no, I’m not talking about tank narrative that has saturated social media for the past three years.
Since being hired, Cherington has instituted the goal to Identify, Acquire, Develop and Deploy throughout the Pirates organization.
[Insert pause for continuous laughter.]
Obviously this process has not shown up at the Major League Level as much as fans have wanted it to; which is technically where it matters most.
Over the past three years the Pirates have taken to snagging up countless DFAs off of the waiver wire, drafting near-or at-the top of the board, signing high touted international prospects, trading multiple players on the 26-Man Roster for Minor Leaguers-most with high ceilings-and signing guys to 1-year deals, in order to flip them at the deadline.
The result thus far has been a system filled with depth at nearly every position; as only a select few have made it all the way to PNC.
Clearly we all know it’s a rebuild; and honestly that’s how these things usually go. Just look at the recent examples of how the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros have gone about assembling their organizations.
For a while now I have equated what Ben Cherington and Company are doing to how a newly hired college coach goes about building a football program; recently talking about it during an appearance on Locked On Pirates.
If a general manager-like Cherington-comes on the scene, it’s most likely due to failures in the previous regime’s philosophy; which has ultimately led to a less than successful record in the Majors, as well as somewhat depleted Farm System.
The same would go for a head coach that takes over a team with a losing record, and inferior recruits.
Would you expect him to turn the whole thing around in a season or two?
Sure this analogy is not the apples to apples comparison that it used to be with the transfer portal and NIL deals at their disposal. However, neither are the attempts to make direct correlations between other teams’ rebuilds and the Pirates; or previous ones that have gone on in Pittsburgh.
Different organizations may spend more, some could give out additional extensions, and a few might sign high profile free agents; as a part of their process.
At the moment the closest equivalence that can be made is how the Tampa Bay Rays operate; and even that’s not identical to what the Pirates and Ben Cherington are doing.
Still. there is one thing that has been a constant in each of these builds, rebuilds or retools…the ability to develop talent.
Inevitably the identifying and acquiring is important as well; but, if you can’t develop players, bring them up through your system and ultimately deploy them on your Major League roster-and have them be success I might add-what are we even doing here.
To me, that’s the point the Pirates have reached in Cherington’s rebuild; as “his” players-and ones that have spent most of their professional careers under his regime-start to make their way to Altoona or Indianapolis, and start to press for playing time in Pittsburgh.
Now suppose more prospects backslide or flame out before they reach this point; that’s when-I believe-we can truly start to question the process.
Yet, think about what happens if the bulk of them start to take a step forward. Would we still be able to question the process in the same manner?
I would tend to think not; but, it shouldn’t also lead to us assume that it is mission accomplished.
Maybe objective accomplished, or box checked; but definitely not mission accomplished.