Williams: The Pirates Are Slowly Building in the Right Direction

One of the most influential shows on television in the last twenty years has been LOST.

For six seasons, the show did something that no other show at the time did. In an era before streaming and binge-watching, LOST gave a full season of shows that you had to watch in order, on network TV, when DVRs weren't widely used. If you missed an episode, it would be hard to follow the series and understand what everyone was talking about.

The show ended up being one of the biggest and most influential shows on TV. It fueled a wave of shows to follow that didn't rely on an "episode of the week" format, but instead trusted that viewers would tune in each week to stick with a good story like an appointment.

As for that story, the way it was developed was interesting. This oral history of the ...

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jaygray007

the trades have mostly been fine. i’m sure if i did a rigorous analysis, i’d probably come up with giving them a “B” and an “I” for still Incomplete. a “B” is pretty good!

i just wish the trades would have resulted in more than precisely one (1) pitcher who looks like an above average major leaguer. Roansy. I mean Zach Thompson (and maybe Yajure) is a fine back end guy, and maybe Kyle Nicolas outperforms expectations, but at the moment it looks like selling off Musgrove Bell Taillon Marte Frazier RichRod and Stallings is gonna result in one (1) *good* pitching prospect. Maybe you’d file Thompson Yajure and Nicolas under “*good*”. I’d file them under “fine”.

That’s not *necessarily* a huge criticism or a death kiss. obviously there’s been plenty of hitting value gathered from those trades as well.

I was just really disheartened when the best guy they could come up with to make that one spot start was friggin Jerad Eickhoff. And then realizing that the most exciting pitching depth in the upper minors is still Neal guys – Priester and Burrows.

ALL OF THAT SAID…. this is all fixed quite simply. Bring in three starting pitchers this offseason, and all of that is solved. The Cubs model for their run. Develop a ton of hitters and then buy some pitching. Easy peasy.

A few trade prospects and something like 30 million in payroll could have them running out a rotation of Jamo, Roansy, Luis Castillo, a Anderson-Quintana type, Brubaker, with Keller/Thompson as depth and Priester/Burrows/Yajure ready as AAA depth. All can be forgiven.

i hope that the plan is to add pitching because the hitting “build” is what is going well

Last edited 1 month ago by jaygray007
TNBucs

Speaking of Bell, I happened to notice this morning that his triple slash is approximately .300/.400/.500, my standard for an excellent all-around hitter.

And I agree that the trades have been fine but nothing special—given the talent we traded away, you couldn’t help but get a few interesting prospects back.

jaygray007

sign him this winter

NMR

Really not here to pile on but you’re even being awfully generous calling the hitting “build” positive.

Jack looks like he’ll settle nicely into a Garrett Jones-type (with a half grade better glove), but Liover hasn’t drawn a walk since the Trump Admin, two first round college bats have failed to impress, and for some reason they seem so excited about Endy that they’re prepping him to be a utility player.

To your overarching point, I just don’t see the kind of success numbers that most clubs wouldn’t be expected to put up in a similar situation.

jaygray007

You def make good points. I guess the hitting in upper minors + mlb is largely still in the “promising, but incomplete” category. Or at least the amount of hitters i can call “promising, but incomplete” greatly greatly outnumbers the amount of pitchers i can call the same. Youre valid in what i think your point is… there’s very little tangible proof of any Ben Trade hitters becoming needle movers. But at least some of those guys still have promise and there’s plenty of them. The pitching cant say as much.

At least when there were injuries, there were interesting hitters to call up. Between the neal guys and the ben trade guys, there’s a pretty deep stable of young interesting hitters in AA, AAA, and MLB. IMO.

And then pitchingwise there’s just Priester and Burrows and Roansy. (once again, Thompson is *fine*. just very safe and lower upside)

i think the Eickhoff game really just turned me off lol.

also i’m not as turned off by davis as you seem to be. stinging the ball, not striking out. i think he’ll end up with a nice line in AA when its said and done. I’m quite turned off by Gonzales

Last edited 1 month ago by jaygray007
NMR

Not at all in disagreement with your “interesting” comment. I like young big leaguers who haven’t been beaten down by the realities of impossibly good arms in the show!

This is a bit towards what I’ve been saying about rebuilds f*cking with our minds, though. Those dudes are interesting, sure, but they also aren’t projected to be very good! If we were actually focused on winning baseball games, I promise we’d be far less interested in them.

They need to turn interesting into good, and that seems to be in short supply so far. Patience, patience, patience…

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR
jaygray007

yeah i think you and i have been going back and forth on this site long enough for you to know that i’m not just gonna assume that Marcano Njigba Peguero Swaggerty Madris Suwinski Mitchell Bae Castro Gonzales Triolo Davis are all gonna be good. probably forgetting someone. just kinda went of top of head.

Some amount will be good, some amount will be fine bench guys, and some amount will be ass. i’d be at least mildly surprised if at least 3 or so of those guys didnt end up better than just solid.

as long as a few of them end up good and a few end up solid, i think the team could end up in good-enough shape, when combined with Hayes Cruz Reynolds, and supplemented from the outside wisely where needed.

At least there’s such a pool to pull from with the offense. At least there’s something of a numbers game working in their favor with the positoin players.

Starting pitching has Priester and Burrows and maybe Nicolas if you’re really optimistic. “yay”.

NMR

right on buddy.

tedwins

I do struggle with folks seeing Yajure as good or fine, there is no evidence of such imho…just, maybe crafty, injury proned prospect, that is closer to 25yrs old now than 23…what do I know🤭🤣 …

jaygray007

Right. At this point, if he ends up being anything more than a up-and-down spot starter type, it’d be some good fortune. I was trying to be generous.

tedwins

👍

jaygray007

the Lost ending was good.

clemo83

I still can’t get on board with this strategy. Huntington’s rebuild took forever. Perhaps it was necessary, coming off the decades of losing.

Why do we have to go through it again with Cherington? Even with the Archer trade, the farm system really wasn’t in complete disrepair, like it was from Littlefield. Make trades, acquire prospects for sure. But just find a way to put a competitive team on the field with whatever combination of prospects and veterans you need as soon as you can. I can even tolerate the first two years, but year three we should be trying to compete. We aren’t obligated to have five or more years of miserable losing before we even start trying.

Last edited 1 month ago by clemo83
TNBucs

So far we’re on the same schedule as Huntington’s initial rebuild despite Cherington inheriting much better talent in the minors and majors. Huntington’s first three years, 2008-2010, were rough but in 2011 we were in contention until the 19-inning game (Meals says it’s safe) in late July. The following season was similar—we contended until collapsing in August. Then, three great years but I could feel it as early as June 2011.

Are we getting there? I think we are, but it doesn’t feel like it’s happening faster and I feel like it should be given the better talent Cherington started with. So, I’m optimistic about the future while also being a little disappointed in the new management team.

AdministrativeSky236

I think cherington’s rebuild should just as much be judged on sustainability as it is speed. Assuming we are roughly in 2011 again and 2023-2024 challenging for the wild card or more, it feels like he has put together enough depth that we should be able to can the window open for more than 3ish years, but that requires good supplemental vets and FA, which we havent seen how well he will do that yet

clemo83

I think you have a good point. I just don’t think this strategy guarantees sustainability either. Everyone knows what happened in 2016. Our playoff team combined with our top 5 farm system and everything fell apart. The prospects didn’t perform, especially the top guys.

That was our fault, but prospects need time and coaching. I’m not seeing major improvements in our development and I’m also just not seeing the elite talent in our system. The teams that did this well have 4-5 elite guys arriving together. Cruz is nice, but he’s absolutely a question mark.

Last edited 1 month ago by clemo83
zebug

Huntington never went for a rebuild…he was just trying to put an about .500 team out there year after year.

NMR

What in the hell do you call the first five years of his tenure?

People’s memory’s are impossibly short, sheesh.

zebug

You’re right NMR, my bad.

NMR

Hope you took that in my shooting-the-shit-with-buddies tone!

zebug

oh goodness 100% yes NMR. Thick skinned here…people that over hear my friends and family talking with each other would think we hate each other lol.

clemo83

Huntington still accomplished something – we had three of the most exciting season of my life as a fan. I know it all went to crap, but I was nine or ten years old for stupid Sid Bream slide. Those three years were awesome, even if the universe aligned one of those seasons with the one year flipping Jake Arrieta turned into the terminator. I genuinely did not know it was possible for the Pirates to win until then.

Side anecdote: I live in the southeast now. Its great but no character like Pittsburgh. Anyway, one day my friend and coworker brought in a large scale replica of Sid Bream’s slide, just to put on his desk. Braves fans everywhere down here. I saw it and almost reflexively threw it out the window. I would have been totally fine losing my job over that. Sadly I didn’t do it. But I had to restrain myself ever time I passed his cube.

Last edited 1 month ago by clemo83
jaygray007

yes. they should try in 2023. They could march out an awfully good team just by getting payroll to a still-pathetic 100 million

At the very least, this team is ready for its Burnett/Liriano/Martin type signings.

Last edited 1 month ago by jaygray007
rrlindsey

Couldn’t agree more. No need to make trades just make trades and add another dozen players to the system that we can’t protect. We were very lucky that the Rule 5 draft was cancelled. The 40 man roster construction was very poor. Either play the young kids or keep the majority of the players we had until the young ones are ready. The real fans deserved better.

gosteelers69

I posted on the other thread that I’m not very optimistic. All of you guys know a lot more than me, so I lean on you for a better understanding of things. And this read certainly helped. I feel so beat up as a fan that I’m broken. I probably will have to ultimately see it to believe it to finally be a believer. Regardless, thank you all for your excellent insight!

skliesen

We all should have distrust of the organizations commitment at this point in time. As Tim says in the article, for this build to bear fruit, they must go “all in.” Until BN frees up the finances to buy, or trade for, proven MLB talent, we should all be skeptical.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I do feel more and more like he’s trying to develop a “Cardinals build”, per se.

I enjoy that they’re letting the younger guys have a go more than Hurdle would have, but I don’t think they’re trying to find their everyday players right now.

That isn’t to say they’re closing the door on a Jack Suwinski if he busts out, but they’re letting Diego run the gauntlet. Even giving him a start in OF recently when they literally didn’t need to, having enough rostered OFs. They want to know that next year, season after or whenever, that if they have to call on Diego to take over starting PT for an injury or slump from a starter, that they can count on him.

Kind of in the way I felt the Bins promotion wasn’t because he deserved it, but because his status on the depth chart had changed. They haven’t closed the door on him, but he also isn’t in their immediate plans for when they decide to contend.

Cal and Bligh deserved a shot with how they were playing, but they were willing to drag Cal on through an almost 3 week slump before his demotion. With Swaggerty, he wasn’t going to get consistent playing time, so they quickly sent him back down.

I imagine they have to have an already strong idea of what spots they need to upgrade, but the priority may shift dependent on which areas they feel they can float with their current depth (like OF) while focusing on upgrading areas like SP and 1B

ArkyWags

It’s always about next year. Never about now.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

It’s annoying as hell, but it’s about the only thing that makes sense at this point. Even they’re not that dense to think they’ll waiver claim themselves into a roster of Justin Turner’s.

GlypheNotes

Do I remember correctly, reading (probably from this site) that Baker is in charge of developing coaches and coaching techniques along with player development?

I think that’s a good representation of the increased size of the organization and scope of roles within it.

RAS TN

I do not think at this time that there is sufficient proof one way or the other about whether the Pirates are building in the right direction or not…No actual proof, for now, is just a bunch of subjective views…

It’s refreshing to see some of the kids play but they need to improve from their current levels which we all expect to happen but what if they do not???

Right or wrong direction will show its head come mid to late 2023…

NMR

Tim wrote a great piece last week about the MLB mindset.

The gist was that against all odds and all evidence, a player must maintain an undying confidence in their ability to succeed.

While we may not be able to sway the cosmic flows through our positive vibes, being a Pittsburgh Pirate fan is pretty much the same.

My biggest complaint about the Cherington Era is that to my eye, it’s style over substance. Right down to the build-not-rebuild PR campaign, I’ve yet to see them take on anything but a milquetoast rebuild backed by strategies that that most clubs with half a decade and lots more money have up on them.

It’s why, after literally pitching the fanbase that there was loads of undeveloped talent already here, I’m not sure if they’re just liars or if they really suck at their jobs.

I fell for Huntington’s schtick hook, li.e, and sinker.

I’m also halfway through my fourth decade as a Pirate fan.

With both of these things in mind, I both have hope that my undying love for this game and this club will pay off sometime in the future and little confidence that Cherington will be the knight in shining armor.

jaygray007

I’ve definitely felt the “style over substance” thing. i really don’t see what’s been special about this build. They traded a bunch of good mlb players for a bunch of promising prospects, and had a good draft when given the mlb’s biggest draft bonus.

It’s all fine and good, but if cherington was the genius that some of the fanbase treats him like, things would simply be better.

I don’t even intend to be insulting or act like he’s doing *bad*. He’s a perfectly average or maybe even slightly above average gm. It just doesnt take a genius to get a few solid players for Musgrove Bell Jamo Frazier Stallings Marte, or get some really interesting players when you have the league’s biggest draft pool.

(also, any sort of long term winning with the pirates would, by definition, require a well-above-average GM)

Last edited 1 month ago by jaygray007
NMR

Right on.

ArkyWags

The build not rebuild is so disingenuous. We all know what it is, but I don’t know why they can’t just say it.

NMR

Absolutely, and also self-defeating?

I gotta imagine there’s far more Pittsburghers primed to be skeptical of what they do based on this than those who are convinced it’s anything but what we’ve seen in the past.

I don’t know who thought this one up but they know nothing about western PA.

GlypheNotes

I don’t think this front office tried to pitch fans anything. Maybe they should. I think they were right about there being talent. They called a tiny bit of it up and traded a lot of it away. I think the one thing they do stress consistently is that it takes way MORE talent to win in the way they want to win.

I don’t think the Pirates fanbase has had a chance yet to grasp how much depth this front office thinks is necessary to contend. Their actions and statements are pretty consistent and frame depth differently than the previous two front office plans.

Personally, i just want to see better pitching. The bright future of Pirates pitching always feels thin, distant, and/or precarious. I wish they would do something to accelerate a stable major league pitching staff. It would make the games more relaxing to watch.

capirate

i think the Dodgers are a great example of depth. While the Pirates will never have the money to pay for depth in the same way, having lots of young players with major league experience might be another way to do this once they establish a base of regulars at most positions.

NMR

I won’t blame you for not having the unhealthy relationship with this club that I do, but man, this was all over their early messaging to fans!

Getting more out of talent was the overarching explanation Nutting used to justify shit-canning the last crew, and Cherington came aboard saying the same exact thing.

Then he accomplished none of that and traded a bunch of dudes with control remaining at low points in value.

I hear you on what you’re saying about what the Front Office thinks and whatnot, I just increasingly think that’s an outdated model. Seems like more and more clubs are just accepting the reality of baseball and planning their rosters for churn and burn instead of trying to amass everything they need five years out. As a Bucco fan I sure hope they can pull it off.

roibert.kasperski

Not to change the subject but I figured this was the best place to reply sisnce It has been a while since my first message. Started thinking about my Columbus days after I posted it and Brought back a memory from 1987. Was out in my car driving on business so I could pick up KDKA on the radio on my way home. Was a week before the season and heard the breaking news that Syd Thrift traded Tony Pena for young CF in Andy Van Slyke, what looked like a journeyman catcher in Mike LaValliere and a RHP in Mike Dunne. Huge fan uproar over losing Pena to the Cards. No one knew then how good Andy and Spanky would be. Dunne was decent then traded in a Larry Doughty special 3 players including former #1 Mark Merchant for1 year of Rey Freaking Quinones and a AA pitcher who was go before pitching a whole year for Buffalo. You would have loved that ugly deal.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

1987?! That’s a good year. Year I graced the earth with my presence lol

roibert.kasperski

Oh, so that was the source of the major ripple in the Force that was felt that year 🙂

NMR

Man do you have a memory!

Here’s to that kind of reaction, and especially the result (!) next time one of our favorites are traded.

roibert.kasperski

Sometimes the memory is a curse….. There is plenty of stuff that I wish that I could fortget………..Back in the old days, we did not have this here intersweb thingy and had no way to look up stuff quickly and had to depend on (GASP) sports talk hosts to give us some information about who the return was. At least back then, the hosts (most likely their interns/producers dug for the stuff for them) seemed to have the lowdown of players. Nowadays, it is all about sports betting and look up the stuff yourself.

roibert.kasperski

I am into my 6th decade as a Bucco Fan 🙂 Got to see some ups and lots of downs along the way. I just love baseball. Live in Columbus Ohio for a couple of years in the 80’s. Went to a bunch of Columbus Clippers games while there. The were the Yanks AAA team then. No dog in the fight but was fun to watch them because it was live pro ball. Got to see Jose Cruz there for a couple of games at the end of his career after he was done with the Astros.

Catch_22

Jameson Taillon 1.9 fWAR
Clay Holmes 1.3 fWAR

Roansy Contreras 0.1 fWAR
Miguel Yajure -0.1 fWAR
Diego Castillo -0.2 fWAR
Hoy Park -0.5 fWAR

It appears that Cashman did a better job of scouting. Lots can change, but it’s fugly right now.

roibert.kasperski

No doubt that the current year stats are in the Yanks favor. Taillon would be on his way out this month anyway because he would be heading to FA. Surprisingly, he is turning 31 this November and no way would he extend. He would be way out of most teams price range but a couple of teams like the Yanks, Mets, Angels, Dodgers Phils and possibly the Padres may be willing to risk huge money on a guy that has had 2 TJ surgeries. Most teams can not afford the risk and have a huge contract to pay if his arm goes again. An insurance policy would be nearly as expensive to buy and have to pay for it along with his contract. Holmes finally got consistent this year. He had stretches last year with the Bucs where he was unhittable then he got hittable for a few games the back to great again. This year he has not had the big hiccup like he had last year a couple of times. Glad for both these guys but not sown on either deal yet as Castillo has show some good signs of geeing a pretty solid player and the same and considering Taillon would be leaving this month anyway, I am glad we got Roansy plus Yajure and Smith-Njigna who both have shown some promise.

RAS TN

Getting just Roansy is and was not enough, that trade is a loss no matter what, 2 proven MLB players for hope and prayer will not cut it…

Catch_22

Yankees saw something similar to what Tampa saw in Glasnow…

K’s way up, walks way, way down (3.6 bb%!!!) and velo way up (97.8 ave fb)

I remember after the 2019 season, maybe it was spring training 2020 and the players said Holmes has Glasnow stuff. That stupid trade for Castillo and Park pisses me off. It was an unnecessary trade. They already had the market cornered on middle infield-utility types.

roberto

These two trades are not at all alike.

NMR

It’s just as fine to be lucky as good, but let’s also not re-write history by pretending Cherington’s scouts, or literally anyone else, had an opportunity to even see Roansy Contreras before he popped up after the long COVID layoff with stuff a couple grades higher across the board.

They took flyers on a bunch of statistical popup guys last year, and look to have hit on one of them (Jack Jack!). At what point can we start comparing that to, you know, their competition?

These disastrously slow rebuilds have a way of f*cking with people’s minds. The goal is still to be better than your competition!

All this internal stuff is academic unless it results in better performance than the clubs you gotta beat for any of it to matter.

roberto

See above. The Bucs have a robust pro scouting team. These trades are not accidents.

NMR

See what above?

Catch_22

Not only did they sell low on Holmes, they also erred in development. Both Glasnow and Holmes had control problems in Pittsburgh. I’m guessing the Yankees told Holmes to let loose and throw it down the middle and his movement would do the rest…much like Glasnow.

NMR

The simplest explanation is usually correct, so maybe is this, but my bigger concern about both of these dudes is that the explanation given is what they say to the media and the actual development work that led to both of their improvements runs much deeper and much more technical.

zebug

Feel pretty much the same way. I really think they start adding this offseason. Getting that payroll above $90 and maybe touching close to $100M with more to come in future years. It makes so much sense that it HAS to happen. If not, then I will join the contingent of folk who only talk about Nutting’s wallet but for now, I think the plan is coming together (still need some prospects to pan out like Davis, Burrows, Peguero etc)

capirate

I will be really, really surprised if next year’s budget tops $70 million. I don’t expect any significant budget growth until the 2023 offseason.

I can see them improving the quality of their free agent signings and trades above the last few years (an extremely low bar), but will still be at a middling level. Next year is still tryout time.

zebug

Heck the Pirates are sitting at $68M now according to Spotrac.

capirate

LOL, I thought the Pirates were around $50 million right now. I forgot about the Hayes contract.

With all the young players on the team now, my original prediction for 2023 still might hold true. Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes are the only players making significant money that they will probably bring back. On the pitching staff, only Keller might get a significant raise, assuming he continues show his recent improvement is sustainable.

roibert.kasperski

I started talking about when the Pirates would start adding viable, quality talent to the major league roster. With the build working it’s way through the minors, I was saying that as soon as some of the quality prospects started hitting the show, it would be easier to entice good FA talent to sign and there now ae several tradeable prospects that can bring back a solid major leaguer in return without cleaning out the cupboard in the process. I agree that this off-season should see the Bucs spending for better FA talent instead of the 1 year stop gaps that they had been. Easier to sell signing with a team on the cusp of winning as opposed to asking someone to pass up a winning team or a team on the cusp already to sit through a losing couple of seasons and wait for a winner. Will see what happens as you say.  😀 

john_fluharty

I agree and you hit on the biggest question in my mind. What is the budget going to be for a contender? If it’s capped at $100M we’re going to have a hard time sustaining anything for long. Can we do $125M? $150M? We should have some extra in the piggy bank and we’ve been saving over the last few seasons so in theory we should be able to go over our beak-even budget for a few years as well.

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