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Friday, December 9, 2022

P2Daily: Plenty To Play For The Pirates In Last Six Games

The Pittsburgh Pirates enter the final stretch of games in the 2022 season with back-to-back three game series against the St. Louis Cardinals — one on the road before finishing at home.

It’s been a very trying year for the Pirates, but even with six games left — all against a team that has already clinched a playoff birth — there are still plenty of things to play for if you are Pittsburgh.

Avoiding 100 Losses

It won’t be easy, as they will have to win four of their last six games, but I’m sure crazier things have happened. They are coming off a sweep of the Reds, a team that you could probably say the Pirates should beat, if that’s an actual thing from an organization who will likely lose 100 games again this season.

I can’t imagine the Cardinals completely stepping off the pedal, even with a playoff spot locked up, so the Pirates are going to have to fight to get to that 63rd win of the season.

Can The Rotation Close Strong?

If there has been one bright spot for the team the last month it’s been the rotation, who has turned in some fantastic starts in September. Bryse Wilson was the latest, pitching eight shutout innings only to get a no-decision after the bullpen failed to hold the lead.

Luis Ortiz has been fantastic in his first few starts at the major league level and Mitch Keller continues to takes the kind of steps you want to see from a former top prospect. Maybe the best sign from him was his ability to work around not having his best stuff and still pitched five strong innings.

Six games against the Cardinals seems like a really good test to close things out.

Johan Oviedo could potentially get two more opportunities to pitch against his former team to show that he could have absolutely stayed in the rotation.

Oneil Cruz, Complete Hitter?

It’s been an interesting couple of games for shortstop Oneil Cruz, but in a good way. He’s really showing progress as of late, and picked up 10 hits in his last four games. Two things that make that even more impressive, he hasn’t struck out in any of those games and hasn’t had a multi-K contest since September 20.

He also hasn’t hit a home run in that time frame, which for someone with his power, is a shock he’s been this hot without putting one over the fence. Cruz came close, but hasn’t gone deep since September 18 against the New York Mets.

The defense can do a little work, but there isn’t anything new on that.

With his raw power and arm strength, Cruz has the natural talent that few possess that will also help him cover for some of his shortcomings.

Just imagine the potential once he starts to figure things out.

Just As Simple As New Surroundings?

This is one of those moves you would have liked to see a little bit earlier in the season to get more of an idea, but Miguel Andujar is going to be one of the more interesting names to watch in 2023. He’ll get every opportunity to rediscover his rookie year form where he hit 27 home runs with the Yankees.

He has six more games to make his mark to send him into the off-season.

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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emjayinTN

Hard for me to see Andujar as somebody we should look at for 6 more games to consider him for anything with this team. A 129 wRC+ in 2018 followed by -36 in 2019, 71 in 2020, 81 in 2021, and 61 so far this year.

This is just one more attempt to try to find a cheap, easy fix rather than trying to build with the youth that has already been developed. Another asinine detour for a franchise that cannot afford any more detours! We have talent and it’s about time we use that talent and eliminate all of the stumbling blocks we have come to know as MLB has beens or AAAA never have-beens.

bucsws2014

Andujar isn’t some former 1st rounder who never accomplished anything in MLB like most of the other flotsam and jetsom BC has acquired (and NH had a soft spot too). He’s actually shown he can hit MLB pitching with authority. He’s been injured since 2018 and just couldn’t see much playing time as he lost his 3b job to Gio Urshela, his OF job to a number of people, and his 1b job to Rizzo. He’s still only 27 with an option, and if he can play 1b, it’s a position of need. Why he’s not playing there this week is anyone’s guess.

TNBucs

To this point Shelton has regularly expressed that he sees his role as “keeping things fun” and “staying positive”. I wonder if/how he’ll transition to his job being about guiding the team to winning. It will probably be a cart before the horse thing–once we have enough talent that we start winning, then we’ll start hearing Shelton say his role is to ‘put players in a position to win’.

AttyMike

He’s like the cruise director on the Titanic.

joesolo6181

The Pirates seem to lack leadership. The manager and coaching staff are not providing it and they do not have a player that has stepped up to do so. So I guess this team needs a veteran player that can kick some serious ass in the clubhouse and hold players accountable when they make a mistake. Maybe that will put them on a path to succeed.

patrick_kelly

Hoka Hey!

SouthernBuc

I think all players in need of making an impression from now until the end of spring training have something to play for. That is most of the roster.

I don’t think the 100 loss barrier is that big of a deal at this point. Whether it is Reynolds, Cruz, Castillo, or newcomer Andujar, the team season was bad and they could easily just say it sucked whether the final tally is 99 or 100 losses. Bad is bad and IMO ultimately that won’t change their reflection on the season. It may hurt of that day if they reach 100.

And from my view / opinion as a fan, the test is still whether this rebuild culminates in consistent playoff contention for several years (with a championship!!). If this rebuild succeeds or fails I won’t care about 99 or 100 losses, I’ll care about the result.

I can’t follow a Pirate game and hope they lose but if I could disappear for a week and you told me they squeaked into the 4th worst record I would probably be disappointed. If you have been bad for 156 games (no matter whose fault – owner, GM, manager, players), I prefer having those slightly better odds for a top pick. I am past wanting to tank (was actually ok with that 2 years ago) but now it is just practical to want better odds on a higher draft pick.

tventimiglio

7 different teams have won WS since 2010 with only the Giants and Bosox winning more than one. Los Angeles had been shout out since 88 and only won in an abbreviated season. The Yankees haven’t won since 2009, Cards havent won since 2011. 15 different teams have won since 2000. That leaves 15 that haven’t. There are 6 teams that have never won a WS including “model franchises” like the Rays, Mariners, Brewers and Padres. Cleveland hasn’t won in 73 years, The Nets in 35. To ultimately decide that a GM in a small market has to won a WS to be considered as having completed a successful rebuild is unrealistic.

TNBucs

It’s somewhat depressing but Cherington could do everything right and we still won’t likely win a WS. Between the number of teams and the extended playoffs, there will be lots of well-run teams that don’t win a WS in their fans’ lifetimes. For many decades it was indisputable that the best teams ended up in the WS but now you have teams like the 83-78 Cardinals from 2006 getting hot at the right time and winning it all.

In terms of championships, though, a very good GM should be able to win a division title–if you build a team that can sustain their quality, then over 162 games that team should win some “championships”, just not _the_ championship. If/when we win our next division title I plan to celebrate it as a true championship.

SouthernBuc

I’m totally on board with both of you. You obviously have to get in to win and I don’t like when some announcers say the playoffs are luck because that is too random, but I also agree that you can put together the most awesome roster and that does not guarantee a championship. The Braves have lived both sides of that, hit the jackpot last year with several outfielder adds who outperformed their normal seasons to propel them to the championship but then had the incredible long streak of playoff appearances in the Chipper Jones era and only won once.

I chafed at some Pirate fans who said the Pirates making the wildcard game during the McCutchen era didn’t count as the playoffs. You get in and you have a shot…. facing Arrieta and MadBum were brutal twists of fate.

If Cherington gets them to the playoffs it is hard to grade him poorly. How me maintains that success (where I and most feel Huntingdon failed) will be key to his legacy. I think the challenge is … how much time does he have for a playoff appearance? 2024, 2025?

Awoods800

‘22 Andujar = 21 Tsutsugo? Don’t get fooled again

docdon385

I’m with you on this. He certainly deserves a chance and I hope he’s able to regain and maintain his 2018 form but 11ABs doesn’t prove much especially because it’s been four years since he’s produced anything in the majors. Take a deep breath and see how things pan out.

Until proven otherwise Andujar is just another waiver claim who initially has looked far better than the usual awful the Pirates get in such pickups, but being ready to proclaim him a star or having already earned a starting job next year is unrealistic. It’s been three games, and he wasn’t put on waivers by the Yankees for no reason. I think maybe being accustomed to terrible makes pretty good look great.

b mcferren

what option to propose as better? also there is a $5mil difference

bianco599

Made me think of The Who song “Won’t get fooled again”. Hope he fits in somewhere and can make a positive impact next year.

mikeschalke

Oh hell no. Andujar has a much higher upside than Yoshi for sure. I’m thinking this was a very good waiver claim.

Mtgj

That’s a good point. DS and BC have both said that andujar is an outfielder and DH which makes me happy, because the last thing I want to see is for them to not address first base this offseason because of andujar.

I’m all for giving him a chance next year but it better not be in place of a free agent first basemen. Other than bullpen, first base must be addressed this offseason and I think it will.

Wilbur Miller

IMO, they should have stuck Andujar at 1B on day one. Going from .040 Collins to anybody at all involves zero downside.

But longer term your first point is a good one.

Catch_22

No offense, but you want to put anyone with a pulse at 1b. They’re also desperate to have a RH OF’er to break up the glut of lefties. I like him in that role, combined with DH.

They’re going to need to swing a trade for a real 1bmen. Consult with Littlefield and do something like Mike Williams for Adam LaRoche

Last edited 2 months ago by Catch_22
Wilbur Miller

I’m fine with this. It’s just, right now, they have no one with a pulse. I just think Andujar should have played out the season at first. RH OF/DH? Yeah, definitely an urgent need.

b mcferren

correction

It was Dave Williams for Sean Casey

b mcferren

La Roche went for Mike Gonzalez

Catch_22

You’re right. Wrong Mike reliever

b mcferren

Dave was a starter

b mcferren

I agree with your analogy because Brubaker is about the same value as Dave Williams

Catch_22

I’d do Bru for Ty France
or Brubaker for Andrew Vaughn

Last edited 2 months ago by Catch_22
melkel

I like Vaughn but probably would have to go for Sheets from the ChiSox. Don’t see them parting with Vaughn for Brubaker.

SouthernBuc

I’d like either one of those players but my gut feel is Pirates would need to add much more than just Brubaker to get either one of them. Doesn’t mean it can’t be done, Bucs do have prospect capital. But I also see both of those players being pretty integral to teams already in make the playoff mode and not sure they would have any incentive to move them.

Catch_22

Brubaker just put up a 2 win season and Vaughn is right around replacement.

SouthernBuc

That is looking at current year performance. Vaughn (and thanks to @administrativeSky236 homework with BTV) is just starting his MLB career and likely has much more value. Brubaker is likely a solid 5th starter and I don’t think that would bring somebody of Vaughn’s outlook. Basically asking the White Sox to trade somebody who they picture being a 3-6 batter in their order for a bottom of rotation pitcher.

Catch_22

Vaughn has been worth -0.6 fWAR
Brubaker has been worth 3.0 fWAR

Bru has one more year in the league. Chisox need rotation help, Pirates need 1b help.

Brubaker would be one hell of a 5th starter. Not many 5th starters putting up 2 WAR seasons.

I think you’re overestimating Vaughn’s value and underestimating Bru’s value

SouthernBuc

I’ll meet you half way. I do picture Brubaker more as a good not ‘one hell of’ a fifth starter. But you saying he was 2 WAR does make me think I am underestimating him. Regarding Vaughn, I don’t think I am over estimating him personally, all signs are that White Sox consider him a key cog to the middle of the order of a playoff team and that his performance will improve. Lame comparison but likely how Pirate fans pictured Bell as he just breaking in. My feeling is they wouldn’t trade what they are anticipating his future performance will be for just Brubaker.

Catch_22

Please look around the league and let me know how many 5th starters are putting up 2 fWAR

SouthernBuc

You addressed half the trade. For arguments sake I’ll stop on Brubaker and say I fully agree. What about the other half? BTV has shown many times their valuations can be reasonably accurate. Their current value puts Vaughn slightly more than Roansy Contreras (about twice Brubaker). My point being, I think you are significantly undervaluing Vaughn from a trade value perspective. You are using his actual results as a 24 year old and not considering how the White Sox, the industry, and other tools foresee his future contribution.

AdministrativeSky236

BTV agrees with you that they would both be worth a good bit more than brubaker, though i would also be more than happy to take them even if it was brubaker +

b mcferren

Mike Williams went for Tony McKnight because Loiselle was throwing beebees at the time

Wilbur Miller

Since the GM and mgr haven’t seen anything to play for in the first 157 games, I guess the players will have to find their own motivations.

leefieux

DFA Godoy and let us see Endy for SKX games!!

leefieux

*SIX*

Wilbur Miller

+++++++++++++++++++

skliesen

Avoiding a 100 loss season is a step in right direction. So is climbing over the Reds in the standings. As such, I certainly hope Pirates don’t mail it in and accept a 100 loss last place finish.

leefieux

That means little to me. It was a dismal season and doing either of those doesn’t excite me.

b mcferren

Andujar certainly earning a spot on the 2023 opening day roster

Would like to spend the next few days seeing if he can handle reps at first base

PirateRican21

1b is easy, especially for a former 3b, just ask Kedro Alvarez!

Anthony

Easier 😉

TNBucs

Between Huntington rarely adequately addressing 1B and Cherington so far being unable to build a competent bullpen, I no longer believe the conventional wisdom as to what is easy and what is hard in building a team.

Catch_22

Ask Ron Washington.

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