When I was in high school, and just learning how to drive, I always played a trick that allowed me to play my music louder in the car. My mom would tell me to turn the music down, and I would accidentally turn it up first, ever so briefly. I’d then turn it back down to about the same level it was at before, and it was hardly noticed.
Eventually my mom figured the trick out, so I adjusted, turning it down to a level slightly higher, then turning it down to the original level when she pointed out the slightly higher level wasn’t me turning it down.
There’s something about listening to the music louder for just a brief instance that makes the previous volume seem normal. You heard a higher extreme, and that allowed you to adjust to the previous level. That level is no longer as powerful as the new one that was briefly introduced.
Heading into the offseason, the hope was for the Pirates to add at least one starting pitcher to their rotation. They had a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, and a lot of options in Triple-A, led by Tyler Glasnow, Drew Hutchison, Steven Brault, and Trevor Williams. Add a guy like Ivan Nova to the mix and you’ve got a pretty solid top three, with Chad Kuhl as a good back of the rotation option, and all of the other guys fighting for the final spot.
The Pirates did add Nova, making the move official this week. That gives a nice boost to the rotation, and if you could go back and relay this news to fans at the start of the offseason, it would be met with a lot of relief about where the rotation would be heading into the 2017 season.
Except, sometime last week, the volume was turned up briefly for all of us. The previous level, which was adding one starter like Nova, suddenly doesn’t seem so good anymore. The volume was turned up to Jose Quintana when rumors came out that the Pirates were trying to land him. Even after they signed Nova, the rumors remained that they were going for Quintana. And after you introduce that level, it’s hard to go back to the “Just Ivan Nova” volume and think it’s an extreme.
Nova is still a legitimately loud move. He adds a nice boost to the rotation. If Gerrit Cole can bounce back from his 2016 struggles, and if Jameson Taillon shows his debut was legit and maybe takes the next step, and if Nova can show his final two months weren’t much of a fluke, and if Kuhl can continue pitching like a back of the rotation starter in the majors, and if one of the other Triple-A options steps up, then the Pirates will have a very nice rotation. Those are a lot of “ifs”, but it’s not like each one is totally out of the question. Still, you’ve got a lot of “ifs”.
Jose Quintana doesn’t provide an “if”. Quintana would be a big boost to the rotation, removing one question mark from the mix. Right now, if Cole was the only one who didn’t bounce back, the Pirates still might have a good rotation led by Taillon and Nova. The same goes if Cole does well, but one of those two struggles. If you add Quintana to the mix, you’ve got your anchor at the top of the rotation, with a strong combo at the top if Cole does bounce back. Suddenly Taillon and Nova become your third and fourth most important pitchers, making their “ifs” a lot less of a question.
It’s hard staying at the Nova volume when you had a brief listen to the higher volume. The Nova volume is still a high level, but now that you know the Quintana level is possible, it’s kind of what you want. I guess I’m switching to my perspective in the car here, because I didn’t mind the louder volume, and kind of wanted to go up to that for good. Sure, there’s the potential for long-term damage to your hearing and/or the farm system. But it’s worth it for the potential for those October nights with a great song blaring loud, a new freedom to drive, and Jose Quintana on the mound pitching important games.
It’s great that the Pirates signed Nova, and if they stopped there, the rotation would be productive, and a big upgrade over last year. But they’ve got what it takes to land Jose Quintana, and that would take things to a much higher level. I say, turn up the volume.
**Pirates Officially Announce Ivan Nova Signing. I thought it was interesting that the Pirates held off announcing the corresponding move. It makes me think something else is in the works. I wouldn’t get my hopes up and assume it’s a big move, since it could just be a minor trade to clear a spot. Whatever the reason, I can’t recall too many situations like this where a move was made and the team stayed at 41 players on the 40-man roster for the rest of the day. We’ll probably see what will happen tomorrow.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.