First Pitch: Balance

I was finalizing the schedule yesterday afternoon for the upcoming positional recaps from 2019. The first one went up yesterday, looking at Colin Moran. Writing that one was a brutal start, and I can only imagine how it’s going to be writing up the pitching recaps.

As I was preparing the schedule, I originally grouped the positions in sections. Not everything on this team is bad right now. There are some positions that were positives in 2019, and some that provide hope for the future. However, there’s a lot more that has gone wrong this year, which means a large majority of the articles going forward are going to be downers.

I’ve never written based on the ideas of positive or negative. There were years where I was accused of only writing positive articles, or rarely writing negative articles. You’ll get that a lot when you mostly write about prospects, and you’re talking about future potential. But those comments also extended to the MLB team.

My approach is geared toward accuracy and honest opinions. I’m going to look at a situation and tell you what I see, and what I think can be done, regardless of my previous feelings on the subject. And that brings up the issue of balance.

I feel that a lot of people don’t understand the concept of balance. It’s often misconstrued to the point where some people believe you need to say something good for everything you say that’s bad, and vice-versa. You’re rarely going to have things that are balanced 50/50 in life. If you try to make things 50/50, you’re often slanting your coverage in one way or another, all in an attempt to appear like you’re being fair to both sides.

My opinion is that the job of providing opinions only requires honest analysis and opinions. Once you have that, then the balance — whether it’s 50/50 or 70/30 — tells the story of the state of the overall issue you’re discussing.

I bring all of this up not in response to anything, because I haven’t seen anything like this to respond to. I brought it up because it was something I was thinking about while setting up the article schedule for the upcoming month.

The recaps of the 2019 Pirates are going to be tipped toward the negative, if you will, just based off my early looks at each position and each article. That makes sense, because this was a bad team in 2019, and they’re not exactly trending up over the last few years. This doesn’t mean there won’t be positives, but having an equal amount of positive takeaways wouldn’t be accurately assessing the current situation.

I was in the opposite situation throughout 2013-15, when I was told I was always positive. I had plenty of negative articles during that time, but the reality was that if you were objective, the results were tipped toward the positive in a big way, and shouldn’t have been anything close to 50/50.

And I guess I bring all of this up not because I’m worried about the reactions from anyone who is looking for more positive news this offseason. I’ve already dealt with those reactions from the other side in 2013-15. I bring all of this up because it’s just another look at how much things have changed for the worse with this organization.

I’ve tried to call things like I see them, constantly reassessing and challenging my view in the process over the years. I believe I was right to see more positives than negatives in 2013-15. I saw an organization making mostly good moves, and either trending up or maintaining their place at the top. When they weren’t contending yet prior to 2013, there were signs of hope, even if it might have been more 50/50 or worse at that point.

And now it feels like the team has done a complete 180. Most of the moves they’ve made are bad moves. They’re either trending down, or maintaining their place in the bottom half over the last few years. And there are very few signs of hope going forward, and that won’t change if the organization doesn’t change their approach to contending from the last few years.

In summary: This offseason is going to be brutal while recapping the 2019 team, with more negatives than positives to recap, and I hope the organization does another 180 soon.




By John Dreker

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates have been born on this date, including one who went on to become a great manager.

Danny Murtaugh played second base for the Pirates from 1948 until 1951, as part of a nine-year career in the majors. He was a .264 hitter in 416 games for the Pirates and finished ninth in the 1948 NL MVP voting, but he is better known as the man who guided them to two World Series titles. Murtaugh managed 12 full seasons and three partial seasons in Pittsburgh, finishing with a 1,115-950 record. Besides World Series titles in 1960 and 1971, the Pirates also finished first in 1970, 1974 and 1975 under his guidance. You can read more about Murtaugh here.

Tom Colcolough, pitcher for the 1893-95 Pirates. In three years with the team, he made 23 starts and 15 relief appearances. That three-year period was one of the worst for pitchers, as baseball moved back the pitching distance and got rid of the pitcher’s box, replacing it with something very similar to today’s pitching rubber. Pitchers needed some time to adjust to the changes and offense around the league was at an all-time high. Colcolough had a 6.55 ERA in 237.1 innings with the Pirates, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. That link for Murtaugh also has a bigger bio for Colcolough.

Ed Kirkpatrick, utility player from the 1974-77 Pirates. He played six different positions during his time in Pittsburgh, while hitting .236 over 309 games. He made a 16-year career out of versatility, batting .238 in 1,311 games.

George Metkovich, outfielder/first baseman for the 1951-53 Pirates. In 271 games over those three seasons, he batted .276, with 88 RBIs and 97 runs scored. Played 1,055 games over ten seasons in the majors.