The easy answer, and the one most people that don’t want to really consider every angle will of course be Bob Nutting not spending money. Look a little deeper and you start to understand that even money wouldn’t prompt Ben Cherington to deliver an overall facelift for the club. At least not an immediate one.
The list of players that happen to be too young to give up on is far too big. Now, let me define that just a bit, not all young players are in this category. Kevin Newman is a former number one pick, he plays a steady, not excellent, short stop and thus far he’s been shaky at second. He had an excellent rookie campaign and struggled along with everyone else in 2020.
I hear quite a few people ready to give up on Kevin, and they might well end up being right, but if you truly want to see this club rise from the ashes at some point, its a very poor plan to start casting off first round picks that played an entire season hitting over .300. This isn’t to say if someone would want to trade for him and give you real value it should be ignored, it simply means you, me, the coaches, scouts, other clubs, none of them really know what Kevin can be yet. Potentially more importantly, he hasn’t shown enough to warrant a solid return just yet and is exactly the type of player who could leave and become a real contributor for another franchise.
Oh trust me what’s his name from Brookline, I know you KNOW. I’m not here to entertain that kind of stuff. Opinions are fair, everyone has those and every one is free to opine. If your GM does that sort of thing, I’m afraid you’ve got some rather large issues.
Kevin is one example, but you can easily lump Reynolds, Tucker, Hayes, Keller, and more into that group. They have yet to build value, they have serious amounts of team control left and you have to weigh that out.
Rebuilding this team doesn’t mean everyone here has to go, it also doesn’t mean everyone here should go. Unless the Pirates want to find themselves in the same situation 4 years from now they’ll need to sift through this roster and make sure they aren’t tossing out the gold nuggets with the rest of the pebbles.
The fans will change their opinion on a player month to month, year to year because that’s what fans do. Everyone gets that but your GM better not. That person needs to understand where they are on the scale. Are they on the rise, on the decline, or are they simply never going to evolve past where they are right now?
The other day I saw a poll question from our friend Ethan who does the Locked on Pirates podcast in which he asked who has a brighter future? Brennan Malone or Mitch Keller. Now only 17 people responded to it, so huge grain of salt but nearly 70% said Brennan Malone.
First, players in your system are always going to have a bright future. Especially in a place like Pittsburgh, because we’re always looking 3 or 4 years down the road. Malone is talented and I personally believe he’ll be a good pitcher for the Pirates one day, but he isn’t anywhere near being here. There is a whole lot that needs to happen between here and there. Mitch is already here and if anything he is victim to arriving at a low point for the franchise.
I already mentioned this on Twitter but it’s impossible to compare these two at this point, but the responses to the poll show what fans do. They see a bad baseball team and automatically assume nobody good could possibly play for them. It’s this kind of thinking that gets a pitcher like Tyler Glasnow moved, and do remember he showed even less than Keller has in his 17 starts in a Pirates uniform.
Unless you find it really entertaining to watch former Pirates play in the post season, I suggest rather than assume Mr. Cherington should move everyone for a bag of peanuts we embrace that this team isn’t going to turn around in a blink of an eye. Its a process, one that includes filtering through what’s here.
There are only a select few on the roster who need decisions made in the near term. Jameson Taillon is one, he’s a team leader and he’s been dangled in front of us like a Twinkie at the end of a treadmill for almost a decade. It’s probably not the Pirates fault that he’s faced so many injury challenges, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to absorb the information and make a call.
Let’s say he comes out in 2021 and looks great, he could, he’s certainly got the talent. They’ll need to decide, is he someone they want to be here heading into the next era or instead do they want to look to the next generation (Keller and others) while they turn Jamo into more prospects. This decision would have come up long ago if he wasn’t so often injured so in many ways the club has had ample time to think on it.
Josh Bell always comes up in this area too. Many people love to reference that his perception is based solely on a two month hot streak. I agree and disagree. Yes, that two month span probably isn’t something he’ll reach often again. No, he doesn’t need to have that level of production to be a good ball player. Just like Ke’Bryan Hayes doesn’t need to hit .370 next season for me to consider him good.
I’m basically advising patience. Something this team hasn’t exactly earned from fans but without it I fear another round of “boy wouldn’t that guy look good in black and gold right now” type comments.
That’s not to tell you this club is loaded with superstars in hiding, it’s simply to say there are some who we don’t need to declare what they are yet and it warrants this management team getting more than 60 games worth of observation to decide.