9-27-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
There’s something in a season like this that irritates people that stick with the team through the whole death march more than the fact that the team is bad. It’s the devolution that really makes it impossible to stomach.
As a fan following a team in a rebuild, there’s a lot you can accept, you just have to, but one thing everyone would like to see is progress, even if slow. Now, after making moves at the deadline and gearing seemingly every decision toward keeping pitchers healthy, we’ve instead been treated to an environment of disarray.
Pitchers in and out, up and down. Guys who matter, guys who don’t. Arms who’ll be here next year, those who won’t even be in the organization. Instead of watching the future, we’ve largely been treated to more maybe’s and what if’s.
It’s not been a progressive season in the rebuild, and yes, that feel could be there, even in a 100 loss season if you could reasonably feel the arrow is pointed up based on players doing work. There just hasn’t been much of that, even when you get it the rug is quickly yanked. Dillon Peters looks positive, yup, IL trip for him. Bryse Wilson is a rare baseball trade for now, yup, he’s reached his innings count, sit down young man.
I’m not claiming this is all the Pirates fault, but it’s certainly their doing. Time for some insurance policies next year.
Now let’s dig in on the five thoughts today, it’s not all negative but I had to get that off my chest.
1. Don’t Get Too High, Don’t Get Too Low
There are two perfect examples on this team that simply scream you just don’t know yet. Mitch Keller was a highly touted prospect, by both MLB and the Pirates, and as we conclude the 3rd season of him getting cracks at MLB it’s at least clear, the day they arrive isn’t the day they ascend, at least not all the time. Now, he’s shown signs of improvement recently, but he did that last year too.
Then you have a guy like Max Kranick, and let’s be honest, idiots who really dig in on this stuff like Craig and I knew who he was, even we didn’t know what he had in him. He was a kid, with potential, now he’s a power armed kid, with potential.
Not enough for you? How about my boy Clay Holmes who I spent the best part of half a season telling you to be patient with because his numbers weren’t reflective of his stuff, and there he is absolutely killing it for the Yankees. This isn’t about seller’s remorse, the trade might just work out great for both sides in the end, but let’s just say there weren’t many batting an eye when he was moved.
Hey, I’ve been wrong on guys too, the difference is, I know these things take time and sometimes you have to look at the stuff and watch them try to fine tune it. David Bednar has been an absolute treat, but do you really think San Diego tosses him in the Musgrove deal if they thought this was what he’d be?
I say this for guys like Nick Mears, or Kyle Keller. On the surface just not good, but look at the stuff, the movement, think about the learning curve for guys like that. Most people wouldn’t like to teach their kid to drive in a Porsche, it’s just too much power to handle, but a big league pitcher who has that kind of stuff has no other recourse. Be patient, or be destined to always look at another team who has what you want and wonder why you don’t. None of this means either of those two will make it, but the point is, you constantly want to understand why they get chances, well, 97-99 is a LOUD number, especially with movement.
Now, do they have the right coach to help bring it out of them? Another question entirely and one I’m more prepared to answer than the Pirates, they want no parts of the question as of right now.
2. It’s Beyond Unreal the NL Central Will Have Two Playoff Teams
This division had no business putting forward two playoff teams, but the San Diego Padres absolutely ate themselves alive. Too many talents with big personalities, waiting for the other guy to step up and do something.
The Cardinals meanwhile rode a crop of veterans and hungry youngsters to come together and play inspired baseball including a historic winning streak.
The Brewers are doing really well but they were the only one’s we really expected to come out of this group, but let’s be honest, most had the Reds pegged as the next best hope. Sometimes the old, experienced club just pulls everything together, and when the team that wasn’t really ready to run tries to keep up, they run into cramps.
The Pirates played almost no role in any of this, and yes I’m aware they finally stepped up and beat the Reds a few times recently, but the division is going to be in flux for a few seasons now and if the Pirates can somehow find a way to get the pitching to catch up to the bats this could look pretty cool very soon.
I don’t see that without an outside investment, and no I don’t mean a 30 mil a year guy, but when they look to sign reclamation projects this winter like Tyler Anderson, maybe give them 2 or even 3 years to act as a stability force that helps to not waste the young hitting talent while they wait for internal pitching to develop.
3. Being Reactionary in Baseball is a Fool’s Errand
About a month ago the Pirates were inventing new ways to lose and Wilmer Difo misplayed a popup into a complete collapse and a Cubs win. The fans accosted my mentions with cries that he should be DFA’d immediately to send a message.
The other day he hit another homerun as a pinch hitter to increase his already league leading pinch hit numbers, and again, fans went to town on my mentions, this time calling for him to be brought back next season.
Max Kranick was a glaring example of what Mitch Keller wasn’t as he threw his 5 no hit innings against the Cards, then for his next 3 or 4 MLB starts he was a brutal reminder of how bad the pitching scene was here, and yesterday he goes out and gives the fans another dominant performance that has people putting him in the rotation next year.
I could do this all day.
Hayes should have gotten a Tatis style deal back in April, now we aren’t sure if they should extend him at all.
Incredibly Miguel Yajure had one poor outing after his recall and he too has found his way out of the projected rotation.
Look, baseball by it’s nature is inherently full of failure. I’m not the first person to tell you failing 7 out of 10 times will get you in the hall of fame. So when you react game in and game out, at bat to at bat you’re going to wind up wearing egg on your face a whole bunch of the time.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion, we all can, but if a guy has 3 good outings and one bad one, just because bad is the last thing you saw doesn’t mean those other 3 didn’t happen. Take the time to allow for ups and downs, even Bryan Reynolds has them, the difference is he’s been around long enough to have you see the down blips for what they are, momentary patches of not seeing the ball well.
4. I Honestly Hope the Dodgers Sweep the Playoffs
The more embarrassing the Dodgers payroll can be for MLB the better. You might think a team like the Rays winning would spell hope for the Pirates or teams like them, but in reality it’ll only serve to give those who want to pretend everything is just fine another team beside the Royals to point to as a reason to leave everything alone.
The Dodgers winning won’t alone change anything but if you’re a person who truly wants a cap, there is a very real need to see the team spending up to 5 times those on the low end look like exactly that in the playoffs. It wouldn’t hurt to see some teams who’ve done everything right like the White Sox or Rays get outclassed.
The fan in me wants to see the Dodgers win about as much as I want to drive a hot nail through my toe, but much the same treating an infection is often as painful as the infection itself.
5. Enough With the Bullpen Games
I get that the Pirates are just trying to cripple through the season, but this relentless onslaught of bullpen games has just made this stretch of games unbearable even for the most die hard of die hards.
If there’s one thing we don’t need to learn it’s that the bullpen stinks, so maybe don’t feature it 4 out of 6 contests huh?
How is anyone on the team supposed to take things seriously when every inning is in search of an uncharacteristic performance to keep you in the game? A few weeks back I was praising the management for trying to teach winning, now I’m wondering why they bothered showing up most of time.
The results would likely be no better, but get James Marvel up here to start. He won’t survive the roster crunch anyhow. Let Ponce start. Hell get Kuhl back into the role. But this silly Sam Howard starting crap has to go.
This really speaks to the opening of the piece today, nothing says we aren’t getting better quite like limping to the finish line.