Pirates Discussion: Still No Oneil Cruz

The Pirates dropped the opening game of a three game series against the Giants last night, losing 2-0.

More notable, the Pirates called up Cam Vieaux to replace Canaan Smith-Njigba, and called up Liover Peguero to replace Tucupita Marcano.

Smith-Njigba went on the 60-day disabled list with a broken wrist. Marcano went on the COVID IL.

The addition of Peguero is almost comical at this point with the Oneil Cruz situation. You could make the argument that Peguero is only up temporarily, and due to Altoona’s proximity to the majors, because of COVID. We saw Jack Suwinski and Marcano get the same call earlier this year. Suwinski remained up for good, while Marcano quickly went back down, then eventually returned.

My guess is Peguero doesn’t stay up in the majors for long. Long-term, the Pirates are down a position player. That’s an outfielder, and the Pirates do have options beyond Smith-Njigba for that position. They could eventually bring up Cruz to replace CSN. However, with the Pirates calling up literally everyone except Cruz, does anyone think that callup is likely?

At this point, Cruz is the only healthy player on the 40-man roster who hasn’t been called up to the majors this year, even as a brief replacement.

The Pirates take on the Giants today at 4:05 PM EST. We will post lineups when they are available.

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PiratePrimate

How did the Giants manage to pick up Luis Gonzalez on waivers last August instead of the Pirates? We had to have passed on him for the Giants to make their claim. The Pirates bring in cast off pitchers who can’t throw strikes and catchers who can’t hit. I see why the Giants win in just that one move. We could’ve claimed him this past winter. The Giants dropped him from the 40 man and no one claimed him. Damn, they’re lucky.

Last edited 16 days ago by PiratePrimate
roibert.kasperski

Go figur that a guy that was hitting in the .240’s in the minor with not much power suddenly is hitting over .300 and his OPS is suddenly north of .800……

TNBucs

Today was another reminder that when the weather is nice, it’s just not worth staying inside to watch this team. It was nice, though, seeing Peguero’s first hit and Castillo’s HR–I should have left after those two events.

Wilbur Miller

It’s really uncanny. GMBS can’t be bothered finding a major league catcher, so they’re stuck with two .100 hitters. He mismanages the roster, leaving a short bench so they can carry a waste of space like Hembree. And he brings in a 1B so bad he has to be PH for, which effectively shortens the bench even more.

Meanwhile, Dumbo puts in Stratton, who’s blown up every game he’s been in for about a month, because Stratton has tenure. And he won’t use guys who’re pitching well because they don’t have tenure. Then Dumbo puts in Hembree in a close game even though he’s been horrible.

Practically every game they lose, you can point very specifically to obviously bad decisions or consistently failing strategies that cost them the game. I’ve never seen such a constant stream of unadulterated stupidity.

mikeschalke

Practically every game they lose you can point to the fact that MOST teams have better players.

PiratePrimate

I want to see Bligh Madris platoon at first with Chavis for the next couple months. I want to play Peguero at SS and continue the revolving door at 2B. Keep playing Suwinski and Mitchell on the corners and find the best sports psychologist for Cruz. Is that asking for too much?

TNBucs

Hembree is probably our worst reliever, at least he’s the one I have the least confidence in. Bednar is obviously the best. What drives me crazy, and Shelton isn’t the only one who does this, is when a manager warms up two such extremes where scoring one run or not determines who you bring in. If we had tied it, we would have seen Bednar and been all in for the win. Since we remained a run down it felt almost like we threw in the towel despite the top of our lineup due up.

Obviously, it wouldn’t have mattered in the end but bringing in your worst when you’re only one down feels like a defeatist approach.

ArkyWags

This team is run by a bunch of humps.

jon6er

They are so bad they have some convinced they are onto something, lol.

jon6er

Hembree to Heineman, what could go wrong here.

jon6er

Game, set, match. Shelton’s bad at this tennis thing!

joebaseball

How do we walk their worst hitter 3 times in one game?

jon6er

Practice, lol.

joebaseball

Can we get a HBP here?

Wilbur Miller

So the game is on the line and the choices are the .152-hitting catcher and the .100-hitting catcher. GMBS comes through again.

TNBucs

We could carry one less pitcher to have another pinch hit option.

Wilbur Miller

Sure, except GMBS would find a guy who hits .140.

TNBucs

I would have felt better if Oliva, for example, could have batted for Heineman. And speaking of that AB, Block kept saying what a great AB it was because it went 9-10 pitches. But Heineman was swinging at balls, barely making contact, and then fouling off pitches right over the plate. What’s good about that kind of AB? The relentless marketing of the team by Block and especially Brown makes the games even harder to watch. You think we could get one true play-by-play guy who sees their job as calling the game and not selling tickets. At least I like our color commentators.

PirateRican21

Olivia? That makes me sad.

TNBucs

What I like about Oliva as a 4th OF is the plus defense with the RH bat. If he can carry over his recent hitting in AAA, he’d be a good complement to Mitchell and Suwinski plus a PH option for our catchers and Vogelbach against lefties.

In this season of losing and figuring out what we have for the future, why not?

bscat

I hit the mute button when I watch.

AdministrativeSky236

Think that will be coming soon if we have to drop the bullpen by one. Imo the real issue is lack of a viable minor league option to come up that swings right handed

PiratePrimate

Can’t do anything about the catchers but we can release Hembree after the game and use the 40 man roster spot to bring up Bligh Madris and use him in a platoon at 1B w/ Chavis. Madris has to be the hottest hitter in baseball the last three weeks. We need help at 1B. Pull the trigger, Ben. l

joebaseball

New Rule. If after 50 ABs you can’t hit the Mendoza line, back to the farm.

jon6er

You mean the dairy farm right.

jon6er

Pretty bad when you get a choice between these two catchers.

joebaseball

Where are the robo umps when you need them

1979andCounting

Stratton dropped the ball on rubber rather than handing it to Shelton. Oooh. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that before!

PiratePrimate

Kind of like saying, “I want out of here.”

bucsws2014

I want Stratton out of here too. He stinks this year.

jon6er

Since they struggle to dfa guys like Stratton use the ball drop as an excuse for a 60 day IL stint, lol.

Wilbur Miller

By how far did he miss it?

b mcferren

thata’ baby

PiratePrimate

Nice shortstop. He can hit, too.

Last edited 16 days ago by PiratePrimate
b mcferren

boom

Wilbur Miller

Quintana seems to be turning back into a pumpkin.

b mcferren

he pitches better with a lead

mikeschalke

As does EVERY pitcher who ever played!

Catch_22

Suwinski has a weak ass arm. Ball was in his glove in rather shallow left field when Casali hit 3rd. Not even a competitive throw

b mcferren

Oneal Cruz wouldl have snagged that ball

just saying…

PiratePrimate

Welcome to the bigs, kid. Now, learn the strike zone.

1979andCounting

“We interrupt this program to advise that we have concluded the Pirates MLB hitting portion of your broadcast. Please re-join us in two innings after other players futile tryouts when we will rejoin the programming briefly, very briefly, for MLB ABs.”

b mcferren

lot of infield hits this year for Reynolds

b mcferren

#ExtendCantina

Scrappy2499

In the stands with my boy who just graduated from highschool in North Carolina…Peggy getting his debut…let’s get the win, heck of a day so far!

b mcferren

so what’s the, what’s the, what’s the Peguero

b mcferren

here we go yo

b mcferren

her we go yo

b mcferren

lets go bucs!

PiratePrimate

I’m just happy that the kid I saw here in Missoula in 2019 and in no more than a half-dozen games made such an impression is in the bigs today even if it’s only for today. Congratulations, Liover Peguero! You’re gonna be a fan favorite and a big star.

TNBucs

In my one Greensboro game last year, he was the player that stood out. Two HR’s and a plus play in the field didn’t hurt, but it was more the way he carried himself.

PiratePrimate

Exactly. He was 19 or 20 here and in less than a month he’d won the fan base over with his play and obvious love of the game.

Catch_22

if it was 2019, he would’ve been 18

PiratePrimate

Even cooler. I thought he was 19

skliesen

I’m going to choose there must be a logical reason for skipping over Cruz, because if there isn’t, fans should bring pitchforks with them tomorrow.

On the surface it makes no sense. Have the NL’s worst offense, and one of the top power bats in MiLB ready, yet he continues to be passed over. I guess I’m just not that smart.

PiratePrimate

Peguero starting today rather than Oneil Cruz is proof that hard work and love of the game — and a lot of talent, beats tremendous talent and a bad attitude.

bucsws2014

Or that Altoona is closer than Gwinett, GA

PiratePrimate

Even the Pirates have enough sense not to reward bad behavior.

AdministrativeSky236

Peggy starting today!

TNBucs

And credit to Shelton (though the decision should be obvious) for starting Peguero. More credit to him for getting Vieaux and Yerry in a tight game last night–hopefully their performances earn them future opportunities in tight situations.

jon6er

I was pretty shocked at Vieaux and Yerry being used by Shelton. Other guys not available for various reasons? I doubt it after a day off or maybe the FO is making clear to Shelton the direction they want to go.

TNBucs

It’s a win-win–we get to watch Peggy (big win) and we don’t have to watch Vogie bat against a lefty (lesser win but something). Now, as someone said yesterday, Peggy needs to channel Gehrig.

jon6er

I’m very glad to see that. There’s more reasons to play him then not and I would hope they explained to him and even if he already understands it that no matter how well he plays he’s probably going back down sooner than later.

b mcferren

my sources say all this is about a big long contract they’ve been negotiating

skliesen

Let’s hope

emjayinTN

I have to think Cherrington is hoping teams will come calling for a possible trade involving Oneil Cruz. That’s the only positive I can attach to his tact of just ignoring that Cruz even exists. I have seen others insinuate that he is waiting for Super 2 to pass. No, that ship has sailed.

He is betting that the value of Cruz is very high, and that he can get a young SP from a team like Miami, a team that is loaded with SP’s in MLB Alcantara, Lopez, Rogers, Luzardo, etc., and more coming shortly like Max Meyer, Eury Perez, Jake Eder (L), Sixto Sanchez, or Dax Fulton (L).

ArkyWags

I don’t think that’s the tactic because they’re certainly not enhancing his value.

emjayinTN

I had run out of reasons why Cruz was still at AAA, so I figured maybe explore another possible angle. With the recent trade of Stallings to Miami for Thompson, Nicolas, and Scott, and the over-abundance of MLB Quality SP’s in Miami, maybe these two teams could try to satisfy each other’s weaknesses again.

BTW, Stallings has not had a good year with the bat, but the pitching at Miami has been elevated with his arrival.

PirateRican21

Perhaps they don’t want him facing two tough lefties back to back to make his debut this year. Peguero will play today and replaced tomorrow by Cruz.

TNBucs

I think the plan was to bring up Peguero because of closeness (as reported yesterday, which made sense of what initially seemed puzzling) and then bring Cruz up for the next series. But I’d love to see Peguero have the kind of performance today that at least makes them think twice before sending him down.

joesolo6181

Could it be that the team doesn’t care about winning and that is why Cruz is left to languish in AAA?

skliesen

Must be it, how else do you explain Bednar pitching 2.2 innings to stop a 9-game losing streak the other day?

*Sarcasm Font*

1979andCounting

More fun today…….facing another quality LH. The roster construction of too many LH bats in the OF at both MLB and AAA level is on BC, not DS.

1979andCounting

Aug. 2 is right around the corner…….see Tim’s trade Cruz article.

RAS TN

Maybe the attitude issue is simply that he does not want to play for the Pirates and is trying to force a trade…

TNBucs

On the one hand, I like Suwinski and Mitchell playing everyday. But both are struggling so much against lefties that it would be nice to have a RH option to rotate through the OF–the struggles can’t be good for their confidence and this FO has preached the value of regular rest in the past anyway.

What are the options though? It’s amazing to me how many of our top prospects are LH after years of wondering how a team playing in PNC could have so few LH bats. Anyway, I’d bring up Oliva who has been hitting well and is a plus defender. Give Oliva this one last chance as a 4th OF and then hope that Gorski or possibly Sanchez can fill that role in the future.

I’d still bring up Cruz, probably sending Castillo down. But we can’t keep sending out LH bats at the corner OF positions and DH when facing a tough lefty like last night. That’s just not good baseball and at some point development has to intersect with trying to win.

skliesen

Comical is one word to describe it. I would call it spiteful. Pirates management is seemingly making Cruz pay for openly defying their decision to play him in OF.

Will someone please act like a grown up in this organization.

John Dreker

If it was just him openly not wanting to play outfield then maybe you could blame the team but Cruz is a very low effort guy at times with clear focus issues on the field as well. His lack of big league time this year is 100% on him. He would have been up in the majors two weeks ago by now if he was the one who acted like a grown up. I don’t blame the team one bit for how he has been handled except for the fact that they aren’t putting him in the outfield more often.

Last edited 17 days ago by John Dreker
ArkyWags

I think there’s plenty of blame here on Cruz and rightly so. But it’s not like the FO has covered themselves in glory here, John. Especially with the “oh he needs to learn the OF” garbage they pulled in ST…and then they hardly played him there.

skliesen

I get it, but this is hardly an isolated issue with Pirates and top prospects. At some point in time the organization needs to walk the talk. They say they’re player friendly, better MiLB working conditions, players having more input in development, etc. But then when a prospect is ready to play in Pittsburgh, they either get left in Indy to languish, or brought up to languish on the bench if they don’t have immediate success far too often. Then sent down after not being given a fair shot.

When it’s a common theme, John, at some point in time the organization needs to look in the mirror and ask themselves some brutally honest questions.

TNBucs

Cruz’s attitude would be a good topic for the next roundtable. You’ve been pretty outspoken about it; the other writers not as much so. I appreciated Tim’s take this week in the article about what Cruz wants to be. In any case, I’d enjoy hearing from the group along with posters like BnP who watch the minors more than I do.

As a longtime fan, it’s easy to think of past stars whose attitude was initially questioned but who either overcame that or thrived despite it–I’m hoping Cruz becomes the next in that line.

skliesen

I know it’s a SSS, but I went to Indy game the other night with a friend who is a Pastor and Brewers fan. Not one to talk poorly about anyone, and he mentioned Cruz’s body language was not good. He just looked, moved, and behaved like someone not having fun or mad at the world.

PiratePrimate

Thank you, John, for the reality check and reining in the idea that Cruz is “ready” to come up.

TNBucs

Criticism of Cruz’s effort is surely valid but he’s 23 and certainly not the first 23-year-old who has been hyped for his potential to display some attitude. Good organizations (across all sports) have the right people in place to work with the athlete to help him succeed. We seem to be developing an adversarial relationship with him, and in that way I blame the organization. I.e., when a relationship breaks down, it’s almost always true that both sides deserve blame and I think that’s the case here.

SouthernBuc

I fear your description is exactly what is happening and would give it the highest odds, but I will say to some extent we really don’t know how the team is handling things behind closed doors. I want to believe or hope (with no proof) that they are very clear on their expectations. While they may not be this direct, basically I want them to be telling him.. “For every batting practice or infield drill you give no effort, it costs you another day (inning?) in the minors”.

TNBucs

I hold out that hope too, and time will tell. They did praise his attitude when they sent him down at the end of ST so it’s not like they’ve been all negative.

There does seem to be a double-standard, possibly earned. I think veterans deserve the benefit of the doubt, but Vogelbach regularly jogs to first on “sure” outs while the expectation for rookies seems to be they run out everything. I’m not sure that’s fair but Shelton probably knows he’d lose the clubhouse if he benched Vogelbach for lack of effort.

GreenWeenie

You are mistaken my friend. What you see is Vogelbach running in full sprint.

SouthernBuc

100% intended humor… we sure Vogelbach is not actually at top speed?

John Dreker

If people go back and look at an interview from Cherington from at least ten days ago, not the last one earlier this week, he basically calls out Cruz without being so straight to the point. He says he still has things to work on and even uses the word effort, but EVERYONE took the “things to work on” part as his low average and high error total. It was not about those things at that point.

No one else wondered how a guy recovered from a low grade sprained ankle enough in three days to play a full game at shortstop for a team that has been overly cautious with every injury, or why they would even announce someone missing two games when they don’t do that for anyone else? And it just happened to be the same guy who missed eight games (when he was with Bradenton) with “lower body discomfort”, which was a “comical” way of saying he refuses to run down to first base so now he gets to watch for a while.

Last edited 17 days ago by John Dreker
skliesen

Biggest problem may be he models his game after Castro. Castro has major fundamental issues with his game as we all can attest. And having Cruz playing next to him may be doing him more harm than we all realize. Another reason to promote him. Get him next to Hayes, and see what happens to his attitude.

SouthernBuc

Thank you John. I’d heard the normal social media noise about his effort but since I don’t actually see him play took it as just that… noise. Players of Cruz’ renown sometimes get random people saying things. If the young man needs to grow up then now is the time to address it. I just hope while in public the team talks around the issue some (which I believe is appropriate), behind closed doors they need to be extremely direct. I don’t condone this type of lack of effort but also realize all of these players get dissected to every degree are still very young men. Let’s hope we all (including Cruz) look back at this in a few years and see it as a turning point.

roberto

You know, Bobby Witt JR had an attitude after he didn’t make the Royals last year. He got over it. My suspicion is his dad was one of the people who privately told him to grow up. BTW, he’s an amazing player. Check him out if you get a chance.

John Dreker

Perfect tweet from just now. Notice the word effort is highlighted here. That’s the main word in that article if you take just one thing from it https://twitter.com/robbiertempfel/status/1538159788462329856?s=21&t=SBJIkZ31x_b63BnaMUe9qw

TNBucs

Amazing how the effort and attitude have improved just as we pass the estimated Super Two cutoff.

John Dreker

The Super Two date has now passed by at least two weeks, and right before it passed/or around the time, he was benched for a game for low effort. Cruz could have been up two weeks ago if he just went down there and played. Teams used to bring up guys at the end of May to miss Super 2, while Pirates would wait an extra ten days as a buffer. Even with that buffer, we are talking about it passing ten days ago.

You can even make a case that super 2 didn’t even factor in. Proof of that? There’s a great chance that Roansy Contreras will end up being the better player of the two and he will most definitely be super 2 eligible.

So why would you possibly hold back one guy for super 2, but not another with just as much talent? The answer is that one of those players held themselves back

TNBucs

My post was in response to your post about improved effort noting the possibility that perhaps Cruz has had an attitude adjustment since feeling like the opportunity for promotion was there. That would be understandable–I’m sure many of us work just a little harder if we think there is a real chance of promotion/raise/etc.

As for Super Two, I had thought the date was around the end of May but an article on this site earlier this week cited this as the “safe” week, so was going by that. Of course now there is the added calculation of whether he could finish in the top 2 of ROY which is more of a longshot for Contreras. I don’t know that they’d be factoring that in, but it’s not like there’s an NL rookie that has locked up ROY.

That said, nothing about Cruz’s AAA performance suggests he’s a threat to finish in the top two. OTOH, he wouldn’t be the first to see a jump in production once getting to the majors.

jon6er

I saw immediately what very much appeared to be ‘sulking’ by Cruz soon as Indy’s season started. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until that game they put him in left and he just absolutely displayed his dislike for him being out there. It was tough to watch!

John Dreker

It’s not just that he sulks or gives half effort often, it’s that his head isn’t in the game a lot of times. From the Indy center field cam, you sometimes get great views of Cruz behind the pitcher and I’ve seen him not looking at home plate as the pitch is coming in on multiple occasions, or not getting set to field. When he does come to Pittsburgh, he’s going to need to hit the lights out of the ball, otherwise fans will start to notice things about him that gets on their nerves. The good thing for him is that he just might be that type of bat where the rest doesn’t matter. He’s going to have highlights, but it’s really up to him how often they happen.

No one doubts the tools, at least not that I’ve heard. I would have never ranked him #2 in the system if he wasn’t legit. The concerns are will he get full potential from those tools.

Somewhat ironically because of him getting sent down, but Rodolfo Castro was his caddie last year to make sure he kept his head in the game and played hard. Imagine that, a younger player doing that. That’s why I found it annoying when they sent Castro down and mentioned that he didn’t run out the ball, but those effort quotes about Cruz didn’t start yet. They aren’t comparable in effort, Castro had a lapse in judgement. He’s no Cruz, he’s the guy they want Cruz to emulate before/during games

Bill

Starling Marte would often drive fans crazy with his “too cool for school” style of play , first thing I thought of reading this

ArkyWags

If Cruz is as good as Marte, we should all be ecstatic. That’s a really good outcome.

AdministrativeSky236

That would be a big win! Much needed help at the top of the lineup too

1979andCounting

Yes, but whose quote is it?

John Dreker

That’s John Baker speaking on behalf of the Pirates. The first effort quote from 10-14 days ago was Cherington.

I just read the actual article and I’m shocked how many lazy Super 2 quotes there are from people. It’s not hidden information, you can figure out an estimate pretty easily, or base it on past instances. There is absolutely zero chance Cruz will be super 2 eligible unless he does something to get himself sent down once he comes up. If he joined the team today and stayed in the majors for good, there is 0.0000% chance he is super 2. That date didn’t just pass, it passed a while ago. It has never been later than June 10th ever. He had two days or service time last year and there are only 111 days left in this season. It has never been that low (2 years 113 days), and most years it isn’t even close to that number. It’s also something that can be manipulated if you’re worried as a team. Find a guy in the minors with more service time and keep him around for the year. Cruz is the reason Cruz isn’t starting today.

redwards60

What terrible timing for an injury for CSN. I wanted to see him get an extended look.

redwards60

Why isn’t Bae an option? Unbelievable he is passed over yet again

TNBucs

Bae isn’t on the 40-man so they don’t want to bring him up until they think it will be permanent.

There are players that would seem easy to drop from the 40-man (Fletcher, Hembree, Wilson, Marisnick (once he’s off the IL), Vogelbach (but he’s a Shelton favorite), Michael Perez, maybe Chang but we’re short on RH bats, …) but that’s surely the only reason Bae hasn’t been called up yet.

roberto

Remember, Vogelbach destroys RHP. LHP, not so much, but that’s valuable, even with D only a little better than mine.

TNBucs

Right, we just need a RH bat to be DH in games like last night. To play Vogelbach as DH against lefties undermines the whole concept of a DH–there are pitchers with better averages against lefties than Vogelbach has.

mikeschalke

Clint Frazier was just let go by the Cubs. Wouldn’t hurt to give him a shot I suppose.

jon6er

Always suspect when a guy who was a top prospect gets dfa’ed and no one claims him at age 27. I’m pleasantly surprised the Pirates didn’t trade a prospect for him thinking there was interest him.

joebaseball

Do you think Cruz will figure it out that he needs to try other positions to get versatile to get the call?

roberto

Amazing athletes don’t need to be versatile, though they find it easier than most. Cruz could be an outstanding CF, 1B, or (with work) RF. My guess is that he thinks he will be a great SS, That confidence (or arrogance) is often part of the package.

redwards60

That’s on the Pirates for leaving him at SS for so long when they have no intentions of actually playing him there

roberto

How do you know they don’t plan to play him at SS?

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