Pirates Discussion: Off-Day Thoughts on the Pirates 2022 Season So Far

The Pirates avoided a ten game losing streak with a 6-4 win over the Cardinals last night. Today, they have the day off, before returning home on Friday for a series against the Giants.

The Pirates are currently 25-37, which is good enough for third in the NL Central. They are two games ahead of the Cubs, but ten games back from the Wild Card spot, and 12 games under .500.

This is about the best that we could expect from this team so far this year. They’re a bad team, prone to bad stretches like the one we just saw. However, they’re not the worst team in baseball. They are, factually, the seventh worst team in baseball by record, and have the second worst run differential.

At the same time, this is a team that is fun to watch right now, as bad as the record is, and as bad as the losing stretches are.

The offense has a young group of outfielders playing around a surging Bryan Reynolds lately.

The pitching staff has been promising to watch lately, with the arrival of Roansy Contreras and some positive steps from Mitch Keller.

At some point, we will even see Oneil Cruz in the majors, adding a new level of nightly appointment viewing to this team.

I don’t know if this team has enough help coming from the minors to turn the losing around this year. I do think this team will continue to be more interesting as the year goes on and more prospects arrive. Overall, I think the more positive signs of hope for the future, the more interesting a presently losing team becomes. That’s just how I look at it.

What are your thoughts on this Pirates season so far? Leave your off-day thoughts in the comments.

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NMR

I can’t escape the feeling that they’re doing nothing different than a bunch of organizations half a decade and a hundred million bucks ahead of them.

My excitement for, and the success of, early Huntington Era process was that they clearly were targeting undervalued assets. Doing things the big boys weren’t.

I look at the Cherington Era and can’t see a damn thing that top clubs haven’t already been doing.

A bunch of prospect hounds like us can find some joy in watching fresh faces cut their teeth, but isn’t the biggest issue that we’re just shuffling the deck chairs with all these dudes?

The Changs and Van Meters and Marisnicks were every bit the prospects of the Suwinskis and Mitchells and Castillos and Parks and Castros and Marcanos. The latter simply haven’t been run through the big league meat grinder as the former have.

More rebuilds around the league are failing than succeeding. Successful orgs seem to be moving far closer to roster churn than some hypothetical long-term core.

The chances of even reaching the successes of ’13-’15 seem slim, let alone any notion of sustaining those levels. It feels like they’re spending 5-6 years building the type of club that a competent org could’ve retooled in 1-2.

TNBucs

I don’t feel like we’re any better off than we would be had we kept Huntington, and not as well off had we hired Arnold. The only clear upgrade is Baker over Stark.

I like the ’21 draft but also like the ’19 draft (the only thing that gives the ’21 draft an advantage is picking 1-1 and the slot money that came with it).

I like the upside in Cherington’s trades but almost any current GM can turn guys like Marte, Musgrove, Taillon, Stallings, and Frazier into upside and several of those trades are looking more and more like the common criticism of Huntington that the returns were more quantity over quality. It can also be argued that the trades of Holmes and Bell failed to maximize value. To be fair, it’s still way too soon to fully evaluate those deals just as it was unfair to blast Huntington’s trade of Cole that ended up resulting in acquiring a future ace (Musgrove currently 5th in MLB in pitching fWAR, Cole 34th). (Yes, Huntington made one terrible trade in an attempt to make a run at a playoff spot–Cherington’s track record at Boston suggests that if he stays here long enough, he’ll make one of those too.)

The signings and trades for players to plug holes (Vogelbach, Marisnick, VanMeter, …) has been largely disappointing though the Anderson signing last year and the Quintana signing this year were good. However, as I was typing “Anderson” I started thinking that he looks more like a missed opportunity to have not at least tried to sign him to an extension.

In general, I feel like this management team lacks imagination and creativity. They’re not bad but as you say, they don’t do anything that will likely separate us from the pack. This was the season to show that they were ahead of the curve by shortening the expected rebuild time. That’s not happening so where is the evidence that we have a management team that is better than the rest?

Short reply: I agree 🙂

emjayinTN

The last paragraph speaks volumes about the state of the Pirates in 2022.

This FO and Manager have provided a winning percentage of .317 in 2020, .377 in 2021, and we are all the way up to .403 at present. And, in case the frustration level of the fans was not high enough, instead of promoting more youth and cutting more of the aging deadwood, BC makes a big move by bringing in Yu Chang.

12 position players: Vogelbach is #13
IF – Hayes, 3B Cruz/Castro/Marcano MI, Martin/Chavis 1B
OF – Mitchell, Reynolds, Suwinski, Smith-Njigba
Heineman/Delay

Just for S&G, Tucker is 310/371/379/750 in his first 8 games at Reno, but all of those numbers are higher in the PCL. Glad to see he came back to life elsewhere.

NMR

But I love baseball, and I love the Pirates, and am grateful for both of those things and this great site.

ArkyWags

I feel so much of this. Since 2015, the organization just seems late on everything: development, ideas, a goddamn plan. If BC cracks some development code, maybe a lot of this changes and they have some success. But even so, that success will still be fleeting. They need to come up with something.

Bill

My take on ‘22 is season is very simple:
Losing games while watching Contreras, Suwinsky, Mitchell, Marciano, Diego & other prospects along the way gain MLB experience = acceptable

Losing games while watching Shelton play zero-upside veterans Hembree, Banda, Chang, Yoshi, VanMeter, Allen, Marsinick = unacceptable

mikeschalke

Listen shouldn’t we all have about expected what has transpired so far this season. We basically have 3 real good players, many rookies and too many retreads. Lets see if some progress can be made in the remaining 100 games and look forward to a better roster going forward. I know many here don’t agree but I believe BC can get it done however not nearly as confident in DS.

Catch_22

I’m starting to worry just a bit about Roansy being a top of the rotation arm. He looks more like a 3-4 in a playoff rotation.

Kid is only 22 and I could be completely wrong and I hope I am.

PirateRican21

2-3 is more likely, depends on command, when he has it, he looks like a #1 . He’s able to move the fastball all over and that slider low and away is a legit out pitch, when he doesn’t, which has been what we’ve seen recently, he looks ordinary. He is young and I feel that he will soon get to his ceiling.

Mblee24

My view is this team is still a year or so away from competing for a wild card spot. My hope is to see some guys breakout in the 2nd half and for them to finish strong and get to 70 wins. I think Reynolds is still a star he has a 792 OPS when everyone thought he sucked all year. Hayes needs to show more pop but other than that he has been good. Bednar is a monster and I will be done if they trade him, he needs to be a part of the core team next year that competes for a wild card spot.

I think the bullpen has the makings of a good one with Bednar, Crowe, Peters, De Los Santos, De Jong, and Beede who all have ERAs under 4 and a WHIP under 1.30. There are several arms who can supplement this group in the minors as well and I think they are coming soon.

The starters have faired ok. I like what I see from Contreras as a long term answer. Keller, Brubaker, and Thompson can fight it out for 4 and 5. But then you add in Burrows next year and go get yourself a Burnett and Liriano type. Then I think you have good rotation. So there is hope!

As far as position players this group has been disappointing. Hayes, Reynolds and Chavis are the only guys that have shown consistently. I like Marcano, Suwinski, and Mitchell as well but they still need to show me more. I think Swaggerty, Cruz, and Bae will be great additions later in the year and will join Hayes and Reynolds as the core. I am hoping out of Chavis, Suwinksi, Mitchell, Marcano, Castro and Castillo that one of these guys sticks as an above average starter. I think there’s hope but I am hoping to see a few guys emerge in the second half.

Overall, I think management and Shelton have done a poor job with this team. I believe they could have gotten themselves an actual MLB Catcher and one that wasn’t injury prone or at least give him a back up! They could have also went and got a competent first baseman and another starter. I have disliked Cherington’s moves with getting VanMeter, Chang, Hembree, and so on. And his refusal to move on from Yoshi and guys like that. Maybe he will once they get back from injury. But anyways they leave a lot to be desired. I am hoping once they decide they are going to try to win things will change.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I’ll start with one interesting development I noticed last night. They’re apparently seeking to give Swaggerty “development” time playing LF in Indy. I looked as hit minors career, and he hadn’t played a single inning in LF since he turned pro. Playing LF while in Pittsburgh was his first time. So now he’s started the last 2 games in Indy, in LF.

So, for the optimist, this could be seen as they are moving forward with keeping Reynolds, and leaving him in CF (the negative Nancy in me still thinks there’s a strong possibility someone makes a strong push for him this deadline and meets a price Ben likes).

Past that, I think my new FO honeymoon period has officially come to a close. I don’t know what they’re doing, what they’re trying to do, or if they even have the capability at the big league level to properly execute whatever their plan is. I want to see Cruz in Pittsburgh, but I don’t trust they’ll get the best out of him. I can’t wait for Burrows debut, but will we get a dominant SP? Or will we get a guy that flashes his potential, but get walloped more often than we’d like?

We thought they took leaps into becoming defensively competent last year, and this year is a 180 to the before times. Will their emphasis on more aggressive baserunning translate? Is their pitching niche just going to be signing rebound soft tossing vet LHP’s, and converting failed starters to whatever bullpen usage method they’ll decide on that day?

The irony is they’ve been raising payroll with all the moving of deck chairs, but so many of their decisions leave you wondering, “Why?”. There’s so many lateral moves. The Andy Haines hire looks more and more awful by the day. Which itself makes me wonder if Ben is letting these guys make key decisions, seeing as Haines had Vogey for parts of 2 seasons in Milwaukee, so I imagine he had pull in bringing him here.

I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but I think Travis Williams is a bigger problem than he’s been given credit for. Murph and I have been beating our heads off the table with all the recent NHL hires, as it’s the same old of hiring the same old guys. I believe Travis got the gig, and his first thought as a NHL Exec was, “I need to get a known name as GM. A “been there” guy.” They need to go out of the box, like how I feel they’ve done relatively well at the minor league level. Like the John Baker hire, which I like outside of his recent GM speak (that is probably at the behest of his bosses, and someone we’d usually not hear from frequently).

In short, I’m not so sure we see anything drastically improve outside of maybe they’ll get back to a teetering 500 club battling for a WC spot by next year, and that’s their ceiling. Unless some big changes/moves are made. I don’t think the talent of our prospects is going to outplay the incompetence of the club.

TNBucs

Past that, I think my new FO honeymoon period has officially come to a close. I don’t know what they’re doing, what they’re trying to do, or if they even have the capability at the big league level to properly execute whatever their plan is.”

For me, that this followed comments about Swaggerty was appropriate–the way they handled the Swaggerty promotion and then quick demotion reinforced my sense that there isn’t much of a plan. I give them credit for how they’ve stuck with Suwinski and, so far, Mitchell. But the handling of Swaggerty seemed to be exactly how you shouldn’t manage a top prospect which makes me think that their management of Suwinski and Mitchell is more based on need than a plan on how you bring prospects to the majors.

ArkyWags

I don’t think they’re high on Swaggerty is why he’s handled that way. Not that it’s right, mind you, but new regimes have a way of shuffling some guys from a previous regime to the side.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

One other aspect I just thought of, that I’m going to at least let marinate a little bit is this back field developing.

I feel a lot of the momentum built last year in the minor’s has since fizzled out. Is it something that the prospects are still in the “trust the process” phase? Have a large swath of the prospects just reached their developmental ceiling already? Could be a portion are just a level ahead of where they should’ve been. The success, or more lack thereof, of the A ball teams has me concerned.

An example for me that MAYBE it’s just still in TTP phase is taking hitters like Head and Siani. Both to me had quite a few similarities. Both have struggled mightily in Greensboro. Siani started hot, REALLY cooled off in May, but has recently seemed to start clicking again. Still way too many K’s, but I digress. The pitchers are a whole other story, but someone like Linarez has slowly and consistently gotten better over the season.

Is the farm system as a whole just one big Matt Fraizer and Gorski, and out of nowhere next season a handful of these kids will just jump on the radar? I do kind of like that they’ve seemed to let rehabbing players build up to say 2-3 IP for pitchers before letting them loose in games.

NMR

I truly think the farm system perception is more an issue of us than them.

Ten years ago, there’s no way such lofty status would’ve been placed on pure potential a million miles away from the show.

Can we even really say the results they’re getting are worse than should be expected? It was gonna be a low-probability approach from the start.

Maybe this is a case where conventional wisdom was right all along.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Yeah, it feels like it’s just a constant changing theory. Speaking overall, with baseball. The second you think you see something, and start deriving what you believe to be concrete, it flips on you.

1979andCounting

BNP – you need to post “state-of-the-minors addresses” more often on the MLB club articles, as no one watches more than you (I think)! Your second post is telling…..the rest of us are counting on the lower levels and the kids that BC has traded for or drafted. I’m not getting good vibes here, and for that “window” of ’24 and ’25. Keep up the good scouting, man, and keep us posted.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Sad part is I haven’t watched even close to how much I did last season lol I think there’s still quite a bit to be excited about, but we just won’t have a swarm that last year’s season kind of gave us hopes of.

skliesen

There have been some definite positives this season to date: Bednar establishing himself as an AS quality Closer; Crowe and Peters being lockdown RP’s; and Hayes providing value with both the bat and the glove.

Unfortunately, the few bright spots are being outshined by the piss poor performance of management filling the glaring holes on this roster. Other than the Quintana signing, BC deserves an F for his performance since the draft last summer.

redwards60

Despite the total incompetence of ownership and management, we have witnessed some special moments with Suwinski, Mitchell, Castillo, Marcana, Contreras, and Smith-Njigba.

emjayinTN

You do know that 5 of the 6 mentioned came from trades, so you have to give BC credit in that category, and the drafts have been different, but with a lot of positive imagination and projection.

Guys like Chang, VanMeter, Tsutsugo, Marisnick, M Perez, and a few others tend to dim the overall evaluation of this FO. Chavis has some decent hit numbers, but the 49 K’s and only 8 Walks makes him expendable if someone is interested.

Having Hoy Park and Diego Castillo with the Pirates and Oneil Cruz and Rodolfo Castro at AAA is kind of stupid, IMO. Of course, Park and Castillo came in trade for Clay Holmes who has blossomed into a top late inning RP for the Yankees. I like Castillo, but we are so littered with MI, we need to keep the ones we like in Pittsburgh and send the others West to Indy.

redwards60

Hopefully Quintana continues to pitch well..he and Crowe could be valuable trade pieces at the deadline.

emjayinTN

Quintana, Vogelbach, Underwood, and Chavis could be interesting to contending teams. And, Newman, VanMeter, Marisnick, Tsutsugo, Hembree, etc have to leave by trade or DFA. Attendance will pick up in Aug, Sep, watching a preview of the 2023 team.

skliesen

Only if they start to win more than they lose. A competent Manager would’ve helped the team win a couple of the games they lost in the last week.

emjayinTN

I gave up on my calls for Shelton’s job and the possibility of having a local kid, Don Kelly, take over on an interim basis for the rest of 2022. This is such an obvious plus for this franchise and possibly even a step forward to get Neil Walker involved also.

AdministrativeSky236

Offseason: a new competent manager (kelly makes sense), a veteran starter and reliever signing, natural progression and improvement from the kids… not so hard to find a pretty significant improvement for next year

redwards60

The Pirates botched the Cruz situation and may have mismanaged yet another top prospect. To think that a major league GM would keep Tucker and VanMeter over him was total incompetence and has obviously impacted Cruz performance this year.

emjayinTN

Played/Coached this game at a post HS level? Your comments are insightful, and that does not usually come from people who have not been there in one capacity or another.

emjayinTN

Sorry, I did not address your comment. Don’t know if the Pirates mismanaged the Cruz situation by sending him to AAA. He did not like it, and that could possibly be something that had an effect on his early play in 2022.

That said, he has turned that around – April OPS .566, May OPS .868, Jun OPS (partial) .949, and we have succeeded in passing on promoting Cruz, in spite of the offensive numbers produced in May and part of June. It is now getting to be something more than botching or mismanagement, and I could care less about the number of errors he has made.

He needs to be up NOW! I would bring Ro Castro up at the same time to play 2B – they have played together for years and the familiarity could be very beneficial to both. Castillo, Castro, and Newman have combined for playing the most games at SS for the Pirates in 2022, and have combined for 14 errors so far.

redwards60

I was right about Crowe as a failed starter, but I was wrong that he couldn’t have a role on a pitching staff. He has easily been the biggest positive surprise to me this year. Next to Bednar, their second best pitcher.

redwards60

Although Chavis has slightly exceeded my expectations for him, I was correct on the utter failures of nearly all their other dumpster acquisitions. Marisnick, VanMeter, Heineman , Yoshi, and Vogelbach combined are hitting around .200 and took many valuable at bats from actual prospects.

redwards60

First random thought…although Reynolds is now heating up, to date the Pirates best player has easily been Bednar…not even close. Unfortunately his value is diminished being a dominant closer on a team that can’t take full advantage of his abilities. I often rail against the Pirates numerous poor draft selections and trades, but Bednar was a huge acquisition that few expected.

SouthernBuc

From a won-loss perspective they are about where I expected. I was hoping none of the ‘core’ players took a significant step back and I think that is true now that Reynolds is Reynolds again. The only other two I put in that category are Hayes and Bednar. Whether all three will be around for a winning season I think depends on how soon that comes or they area given a trade proposal they just can’t turn down.

Day to day it can be hard to watch some of these players but most will just be a fun or sad memory several years from now, including some that are getting their first tryouts.

While none have been outstanding, the fact that Keller, Brubaker, and Thompson all are at least looking like possible #4 /5 starters is actually a better outcome than I expected. For Keller that is much less than I hoped for 3 years ago, but for now it is progress.

I still believe the core of a contending team is in the system now. There will be hits and misses but I see hope. I have always said the real test will be when they are more competitive, will they be willing to trade some prospects / talent to bolster the MLB roster (for now it appears SPs will be needed) or actually spend for a lower level free agent to fill a short term need.

I am enjoying seeing the young players in the lineup. I expect angst from a lot of us as some of the ‘vets’ return from injury but am hoping / assuming that will all sort out before and after the trade deadline.

I’ll lose my posting privileges, but the one mention I saw of Yoshi’s possible year long injury affecting his performance has me slightly interested in how he performs if he is actually healthy. Kind of like buying a low payout lottery ticket. I truly don’t expect much but I would give him 30-40 at bats before I tear up the ticket.

Let’s go Bucs.

jedeweese

Season has gone as I expected minus the fiasco that has been Tsutsugo and the injury to Allen. Vogelbach has been pretty much as I expected, except that I think I can outsprint him, and keep my hamstrings attached.

I am not sure I would have gambled on any of Marisnick/Chang/Hembree/VanMeter vs. “playing the kids”. (maybe Hembree)
—————-
However if you would have asked me about the the near future??
Cautiously excited…

Would those 2 words adequately encapsulate my feelings about 2024?
Without squinting too hard, I can see a team that is intriguingly deep, VERY young, and talented enought to challenge for meaningful October moments, with three glaring questions…

Who steps up at 1st base?
Are Brian Reynolds and David Bednar still in Pittsburgh? (nope)
Where do at least 2 starting pitchers come from?

Development, development, development

jon6er

Great points all Tim. But many of my frustrations lie with the front office thinking fans aren’t knowledgeable enough to see the ‘big picture’. I am guilty of not listening to Cherington or Shelton radio shows or podcast in there entirety because the softball questions are nauseating but I understand those are the conditions. I watched part of the Shelton interview after tonight’s game and I can’t wait till I never hear the words “teaching moment” or “execution” from Shelton’s mouth again.

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