Pirates Discussion: Ben Cherington Has a Plan. Maybe.

Cardinals call up prospect Brendan Donovan.

Everyone outside of St. Louis: “Who?”

Now in Ben Cherington’s third season as General Manager, I feel we’re still left wondering what the plan is for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Tampa Bay Rays are a team that involves a lot of moving parts. Often wheeling and dealing everything from star players to role players.

The Brewers went for the quick turnaround that paid early dividends, but seems to be simmering while they’ve managed to develop one of the more devastating pitching staffs.

The Reds tried a for a similar trade-and-pay build as the Brewers, but it died quickly.

The Cardinals on the other hand, utilize voodoo. Brendan Donovan was a 2018 seventh round draft pick out of South Alabama. If bells are ringing, that’s because Travis Swaggerty was the Pirates 2018 first round pick out of, you guessed it, South Alabama. Tyler Samaniego would’ve been a freshman on the same 2018 squad, but he didn’t join USA till the 2020 season, having spent the previous two seasons in JUCO.

Brendan Donovan isn’t a flashy prospect, and likely playing above his ceiling currently, but he’s been effective while playing six different positions, seven if you count DH. If you go through the Cardinals post-Pujols fWAR leaders by season, you’ll find their leaderboards were often ever changing. There were the usual suspects we came to despise in Yadi Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Matt Carpenter. But there are lot of players that would put up a couple strong seasons, maybe an exceptional one, and move on.

After reading the Diego Castillo Roundtable piece, and specifically John mentioning that Castillo has essentially lived up to his scouting report, I started asking myself, “Is this what they’re TRYING to do? Find their trusted bench and role players?”

Often rhetoric surrounds finding or developing a star or core, then building around that star or core. It’d be fair to say this mimics Huntington’s “play for 500 and a Wild Card” blueprint, but previously the presumed floor was built with Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Josh Harrison. When they struggled, well, the whole bottom fell out.

Cherington and Co. have been cycling through waiver claims. Often finding any warm body they can, and placing that warm body at the position pulled out from a hat. Then last year’s trade deadline seemed to seek upper level disciplined, bat-to-ball, type prospects that can be moved around. Has this been the plan the past couple drafts? Making the “safe” and “unsexy” college bat pick?

PIRATES @ RAYS

Time: 1:10 PM EST

Pirates Starter: JT Brubaker (1-7, 4.11)

Rays Starter: Corey Kluber (3-4, 3.46)

Brubaker Notes: JT is coming off the heels of notching his first W of the season against the Cubs. To date, JT has been putting together his best season as a Bucco. Brubaker’s biggest x-factor this season is likely to be how he fares later in the season, as he appeared to tail off towards the end of 2021. His arsenal has mostly consisted of a Slider (33.6% Per Baseball Savant) and, tell me if you’ve heard this before, a Sinker that he’s using at a career high rate (37.9%). 

Lineups: 

Pirates

Rays

1. Taylor Walls (S) SS
2. Josh Lowe (L) RF
3. Randy Arozarena (R) LF
4. Ji-Man Choi (L) 1B
5. Vidal Brujan (S) 2B
6. Luke Raley (L) DH
7. Isaac Paredes (R) 3B
8. Francisco Mejia (S) C
9. Brett Phillips (L) CF

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AdministrativeSky236

Using bednar for 8 out saves and 50 pitch outings might be showing itself here…

PiratePrimate

Using Shelton’s judgement in managing his pen and Cherington’s aptitude for acquiring bullpen talent might be showing itself here . . .

jon6er

I agree. I heard a couple of the Pirates broadcasters use the old “this is the old school way” to justify those types of outings you mentioned. This isn’t the old school anymore. Abusing one of your best assets because the GM and manager can’t figure out how to build a bullpen makes no sense. They don’t seem to seek consistency with guys like Stratton who if used in multiple innings it better be a big lead or a big deficit. Crowe’s been showing lately that he’s really good at one inning. when it comes to the bullpen during games Shelton just seems to quit managing once he puts a reliever in until the most times the damage is done. I’d rather keep trying and change the outcome rather than sit there game after game worrying about your bullpen next game and especially when you are not even close to being a playoff team. Hat’s off to Cash because if he could he would use the frigging batboy to try and win the game and not worry about if he could pick up the bats next day.

skliesen

That’s 100% on Bednar. The 3-2 off speed pitch to Choi after blowing a 4-seamer by him and getting a swing and miss on the split is just a horrible pitch selection. Started the unraveling of the inning.

What’s not on Bednar is the fact he hasn’t been as effective after pitching 2.1 innings awhile back.

Wilbur Miller

I guess this one is pretty much on Bednar — although it should be painfully obvious that Chavis and Vogelbach don’t remotely resemble 3-4 hitters — but it’s been obvious for three years that they need to come up with some late-inning relievers and, other than Bednar, GMBS hasn’t even tried.

Mblee24

This team is going to lose close to 100 games. It just seems they find ways to lose. The Bullpen is so bad and bednar for all his good numbers is 11/14 with saves, which is not great. It just feels like they are mentally weak and not very clutch. Or it’s just they’re bad so it feels that way.

mikeschalke

Mostly bad

chappy

Bednar was atrocious today. Could be up two games in this series, but staring at a sweep now.

ricramer

Dang

1979andCounting

That hurt. Tough loss.

jon6er

I think they broke our best toy with those multiple inning saves.

bucsws2014

Didn’t even try to make Paredes chase. What a shame.

agent00

unfortunate

bucsws2014

ugh

skliesen

Stressed!

bucsws2014

not Bednar’s finest night… but still just need the one out.

Wilbur Miller

Dumbo is blowing another one. De Jong should have been out two batters ago.

jon6er

Shelton get’s lucky again!

jon6er

Rome burns and Shelton fiddles in the dugout. De Jong is losing it obviously.

skliesen

Got lucky the line drive was right at Reynolds.

jon6er

Ten feet to his left or right and it’s a gapper and the lead for the Rays.

skliesen

Man the Pirates need a couple competent set up guys.

1979andCounting

I like the walk to Ramirez. Now let’s get out of this.

john_fluharty

Just watching this on DVR. Man that was a horrible throw by Phillips. Perez should have been out by a mile at home.

PiratePrimate

Jack’s already feared. Less than 200 AB’s into his career and he gets pitched around

Last edited 1 month ago by PiratePrimate
agent00

bligh guy is the new hit collector around here!

jon6er

I’m against bringing Crowe out for another inning. But whatever happens I hope it works out because I would hate for the contributions from the young guys go to waste.

Wilbur Miller

Every time I start thinking Jack could maybe use a little AAA time . . . .

PiratePrimate

. . . . . I realize he needs more time in the spotlight. That’s what you think, right?

jon6er

I was thinking that this morning, before game time after the game started then I had to rethink it all after the 6th inning, lol.

1979andCounting

Nice to not have a solo shot! 3-run dingers win games.

1979andCounting

It’s surprising MLB tolerates the catwalk nonsense. Brownie said it best, it’s like playing whiffle ball games in the backyard. With all the architects and engineers in the world, Rays can’t come up with a fix???

Wilbur Miller

Last night at least three balls hit the thing. They were all caught because they weren’t deflected much, but it could’ve been very different.

Tim Williams

They need a new stadium in actual Tampa.

1979andCounting

I think that decision is getting closer……but it’s taken forever. What do they have down there…..Wilbur holding up the zoning committee???

Wilbur Miller

NIMBY

1979andCounting

Love the acronyms!! You’ve taught me TOOTBLAN and now NIMBY! Keep em coming, I guess I’m not up on social media lingo.

Wilbur Miller

I have no idea where TOOTBLAN came from. BD maybe.

bucsws2014

NIMBY goes way back. Like when building nuke plants and cell towers.

jon6er

but when Captain Jack doesn’t strike out….

PiratePrimate

That was a shot!

Wilbur Miller

JT has hung in there like Keller yesterday. More and more, when these guys look they’re headed for the same old same old kinda start, it doesn’t go that way.

bucsws2014

Are my eyes deceiving me, or did Rays just play a 4 OF deep shift against Michael Perez?

john_fluharty

I’d love to see a rule designating the number of outfielders vs infielders, and specifying how many infielders can be to the left or right of second base (or similar).

Wilbur Miller

They did yesterday on him and Jack. I kept searching, wondering whether someone forgot to take the field.

bucsws2014
Wilbur Miller

Problem with Perez is, any analysis of his hits is gonna be a tiny sample size.

PirateRican21

Your eyes were not deceiving you.

Wilbur Miller

Rays keep winning on a dime store budget for a reason.

PirateRican21

If Chavis was able to hit RH pitcher just a bit better he would be a legit 1b option, his defense is outstanding there.

Wilbur Miller

It’s been a long time, but I think I read an analysis that concluded RH batters’ splits tend to disappear over time. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll get better overall.

PiratePrimate

We can worry about Suwinski but he has never looked as clueless as Raley did there against JT

PirateRican21

A Reynolds’ RBI? Awesome!

PirateRican21

Spring training Diego is here! Now we need Madris and Cruz.

bucsws2014

And here I thought Angel was just bad behind the plate. That was as bad, if not worse, than Jim Joyce ruining Gallaraga’s perfecto.

PiratePrimate

Angel’s always been a little off kilter

jon6er

Captain Jacks recent strikeout binge is becoming alarming.

PirateRican21

Over 40% is the last 30 days! Growing pains.

Last edited 1 month ago by PirateRican21
jon6er

Really fun when he doesn’t strike out, lol.

joesolo6181

anyone of the site old enough to remember when the Pirates allegedly wanted to trade Don Money and Dave Cash for whomever. It was referred to as the Pirates wanting to trade “Cash and Money”.

EightMenOut

I think Huntington and Cherington are both using the same blueprint, to try and build via drafts and trading talent as it nears expensive free agent years for players that are in AA or lower and have the upside of being good major league players. And this is really the only strategy that has any hope of working for a small market team. The supposed difference right now is that hopefully the system Cherington is overseeing will develop the talent better.  The Reds have tried to trade for “major league ready” talent, and that has been a predictable disaster for them. Most of the core of this team has been obtain via draft or trades for players who were in AA or lower at the time of trade. 

The issue I have with the entire Pirates front office is that no money is spent on starting pitching, and this comes down to payroll which comes down to how much can the Pirates spend in any given year and not lose money for that year. And fans are completely in the dark about the payroll versus revenue. Coming into this year it seemed obvious that in all positions except starting pitching, that youth should not be blocked by short term free agents. But starting pitching was a glaring hole (as it was last year), that could have been filled with good short term rentals, and no youth would have been blocked. Spending $20-30 million in 2022 for starting pitching would have been reasonable and not blocked anyone from pitching in the majors who should be pitching in the majors.  Even if by some bazaar happy circumstance there was good veteran starting pitching in the majors for the Pirates in 2022, and AAA guys needing to be moved up, they could easily be moved up to the bullpen to get big league experience. With solid starting pitching beginning in April of this year, this team as it is now constructed could be close to .500, and therefore close to a playoff spot. Right now they seem to have no shot at making a run at the wildcard because the starting pitching is simply not good enough, and that could have been address in the off season without blocking anyone from moving up when they were ready.

AdministrativeSky236

My hope is with the position player core so cheap and really only needing supplemented at C and maybe 1B, that they will take up this plan in the offseason. Even 15M for a starter would be a huge difference

PirateRican21

1b and C should be Davis positions, not at the same time.

buccobrach2

And stop messing with the line up shelton!! Jesus christ!! Keep the guys comfortable , stop moving them all around in the order.

buccobrach2

Bae should be the everyday second baseman until he proves otherwise right now, what are we waiting for, what do we have to lose? Bae at 2nd , and platoon Diego and hoy at 3rd until hayes is better

jon6er

They probably think if we had two guys like who can run like Cruz and Bae on the big club it would generate too much excitement and we would expect too much. 😖

buccobrach2

Somebody needs to tell Ben it’s time to bring up Bae and dfa Chang.

AdministrativeSky236

Right handed vs left handed stuff, thats the only reason it hasnt happened

Tomkatf14

Essentially the Cards are the Steelers and the Pirates are the Browns. The Cards rarely win big, like the Steelers, but they always win. Those two franchises are among the top 10 franchises in professional sports (I don’t count MLB as an uncapped system allows teams to buy wins but I do count the Cards as they operate in the mid-range with payroll).

I think it’s a good idea to find guys who can put up 1-2 WAR at the MLB level to support your elite players. A 1.5 WAR guy can semi-sustain a team for a week if one or two of your elite guys has a 4-28 week at the plate. The question I have is can Hayes, BRey, Cruz and Davis match or get close to the WAR of Cutch, Marte, JHay and Cole?

Hayes is better than JHay by every metric aside from HRs so there’s one. BRey is probably comparable to Cutch in Cutch’s down prime seasons (5 WAR). So we need Cruz to reach Marte level and a pitcher to reach Cole level (IMO we don’t have a guy in the system with his ceiling). If those things happen this team can win 100+ in 2025. But I think that’s unlikely due to lack of truly elite pitching and this team will be capped at a 2018-2022 Twins level of reaching the postseason probably 4 out of 6 years but see short stays in October

leefieux

Jeff…I’ve often wondered what happened to you after your placekicking days with the Steelers ended.

david.althoff

Look, The Cards didn’t draft Goldschmidt and Arenando. Paying for a few superstars both your own, “Wainwright” and other teams (see above) allows for both expected and unexpected talent to bubble out of the farm system without being the franchise “savior”. The Pirates and Cards are incomparable and will remain so, unfortunately.

RAS TN

No team can win consistently using the drafting and development model, money has to be spent to fill the crash and burn positions. So until BN is willing to pay a good deal more than he is this will also go the way of the DODO bird…

roberto

I think the plan is ‘Don’t promote prospects until they are ready.’ At the MLB level this means fill-in’s.

redwards60

BC better draft and develop some pitching talent because I don’t much in the High A and up levels.

roberto

Did you look?

redwards60

The Pirates should aspire to be like the Cardinals, but they are handicapped by Nutting. The Cardinals aren’t the Cardinals by luck or accident. They consistently outdraft the Pirates even though often picking 20 spots later. Nolan Gorman vs. Swaggerty epitomizes the stark contrast between the two organizations.

kja1970

Nice work BNP!

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