Pirates Discussion: Is It Spring Yet?

I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, but I’m looking forward to 2023 Spring Training.

So much so I just booked my stay in Bradenton (I just found out the schedule had been released, and no one told me).

One of the key pieces in the Pittsburgh Pirates future going into 2023 will be Friday’s starter Roansy Contreras, and he has been doing rather well lately.

Going back to his July 7th start against the Cincinnati Reds, he has completed at least five innings in each of his last five starts. More impressively is the last three have come against playoff contenders where he’s looked the part.

Contreras has combined to pitch 18.0 innings while only allowing three earned runs. The walks have remained an issue with seven over that time, but he’s also struck out 17 batters.

He is on the cusp of doubling his entire 2021 innings total which is a big step after running into health issues in 2021. With a healthy off-season of rest and recovery he could potentially take the next step to headlining the Pirates rotation.

Now, this may not be in the true “ace” fashion, as that term seems to be overused nowadays. He could in fact become the “ace” of the Pirates staff in 2023 though.

What are your thoughts and who else are you interested in seeing if they can take that next step? Bonus points if it’s someone not named Roansy Contreras or Oneil Cruz.

Cardinals @ Pirates

Time: 6:35 PM EST

Pirates Starter: Roansy Contreras (4-4, 3.41)

Cardinals Starter: Miles Mikolas (11-10, 3.32)

It’s Negro League Tribute Night at PNC Park, which explains the look of their lineup picture here…

LINEUPS:

Pirates

Cardinals

1. Brendan Donovan (L) 2B
2. Tommy Edman (S) SS
3. Paul Goldschmidt (R) 1B
4. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
5. Corey Dickerson (L) LF
6. Tyler O’Neill (R) CF
7. Alec Burleson (L) DH
8. Andrew Knizner (R) C
9. Lars Nootbaar (L) RF

Pirates Discussion
Subscribe
Notify of
119 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
jon6er

”I think it’s just swinging at the right pitches,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of Cruz. ”When he hits the ball, he hits the ball hard all the time. We can sit here and talk about that every night when he makes contact.”
Genius comes in small samples!

TNBucs

Yeah, Cruz doesn’t need to swing hard to hit the ball hard. The EVs he gets on what look like normal swings designed to make contact are amazing.

1979andCounting

Well that was different. The offense bailed out bad defense and TOOTBLANS. Nice change…….I guess.

chappy

Killer C’s: Cruz, Contreras, and Cal.

AdministrativeSky236

Cal’s defense is definitely troubling, but based on the show he put on at AAA this year, i don’t discount the chance his might become a michael brantley lite

bscat

DH . . . DUH!

agent00

i like that comp

AdministrativeSky236

Thanks lol not gonna lie, i was pretty proud to have come up with that one as it makes a good deal of sense to me

agent00

it would be an excellent outcome for the pirates!

AdministrativeSky236

Scream it! He’s somewhat passable in RF for a start or two a week but he seems like a prime candidate for us to us the DH to get a good bat into the lineup (assuming he shows what he did at Indy to an extent in the MLB)

Wilbur Miller

I don’t care too much where they play Cal for now, as long as he’s in there most days. He’s always been extremely streaky. It’d be nice if he could get on a good run in the bigs. Gain some confidence and go into March competing for a starting job.

bucsws2014

Something I don’t recall seeing in awhile: the entire starting lineup is now over the Mendoza line.

PirateRican21

PirateRican21

Cruz, hitting machine?

bucsws2014

Who ends up with the higher BA, Cruz or Hayes?

robertkasperski

Cruz will make it interesting but I don’t know if he will have enough AB to catch Hayes considering Hayes seems to be showing more life lately.

forkball

Believe it or not they might win

bucsws2014

Cards pitcher: “They told me Chavis couldn’t hit RH pitching.”

bucsws2014

As far as worst DPs the Pirates have ran themselves into, that one is second only to the Gaby Sanchez/Travis Snider fiasco.

slider1971

First blunder on Rabelo and then inexcusable from Castro. Oooofff

forkball

I know they are rookies, but they should know some of these things by now – yikes

slider1971

Agree completely- Castro getting caught in the rundown with two outs is NOT coaching!!! It’s a lack of baseball IQ

TNBucs

The replay shows Rabelo waving Castro to 3B before realizing he had no chance. On one play, Rabelo changed his mind twice. Is Castro not to follow the 3B coach? And why are we questioning Castro’s baseball IQ and not the baseball IQ of the other two involved in the play?

slider1971

The replay I saw showed Rabelo watching the rundown with Reynolds and immediately putting his hands on his hips as he got tagged out. I did not see him make any gesture towards Castro which may be part of the problem. Maybe I missed a replay angle but I think it’s on Castro

melkel

It was a right field camera, had Castro standing on second, he took a hesitant step on the first motion from Rabelo. Took off on the second. I could have misinterpreted it though.

forkball

And if the coaches are telling them to go, then they should be replaced. If they can’t handle the stakes of this year’s games – again yikes!

melkel

Both of the outs are on the coach, sending then holding Reynolds up late. Castro was camping on second until he got waved to go to third, he even hesitated for a second.

docdon385

I’m not a Greg Brown fan at all but in this case good for him for calling awful, awful. Nothing like a third base coach who waves a guy home until he’s half way there and then tells him to stop so he has no where to go. Cora was bad but this guy is horrible.

1979andCounting

That’s history revisionism. Cora was consistently poor for 5 seasons. Rabelo has only a few miscues thru 130 games. No comparison vs Cora.

1979andCounting

Shelton should be sooooo proud of his and his coaches teaching and preparation in the fundamentals.

AdministrativeSky236

Uh what just happened?

TNBucs

Well-coached team there.

TNBucs

Castro should have known better, but the replay shows Rabelo initially waved him to 3B, to say nothing about how Rabelo handled sending/not sending Reynolds.

1979andCounting

Cal not backing up Reynolds correctly………I’ve lost count, is that 5 defensive miscues tonite…..lol. That cost a run.

bucsws2014

xBA on that Edman double: .070

AdministrativeSky236

De jong’s underlying numbers scare me

jon6er

I don’t know what it is but he’s doing something right, lol. Every time he goes out there I feel he’s going to get lit up but he doesn’t.

AdministrativeSky236

I know it could blow up in our faces, but extending cruz early is probably our best shot at keeping a potential superstar in pgh past 6 years

1979andCounting

Let’s spend on some FAs first. Get this team competitive first. Cruz will be dealt with in due time. Maybe after year 2.

john_fluharty

I’m ready to extend Contreras too.

1979andCounting

Manny deserves a contract for ’23. His 2 months have been very good! He’s very inexpensive as well, which is always the most important factor!

AdministrativeSky236

Much needed LHP out of the pen as well

TNBucs

I agree with Brown and Capps here that Shelton seems to be playing into the Cards’ hand. We’ll see if it’s Pujols who bats.

jon6er

I’m just glad Roansy didn’t get charged with any more runs. He did a great job under fire tonight.

TNBucs

It worked so I guess it shows what Brown, Capps, and I know. (That’s not fair to Capps though.)

jon6er

Well Shelton is gambling with house money since he’s coming back next year but he won a bad bet there.

TNBucs

There are at least a couple of reasons to watch 🙂

jon6er

Lol, yeah I guess getting to watch Roansy and Cruz on the same team might be close to must see.

TNBucs

My favorite, Castro, is scuffling a bit though.

AdministrativeSky236

I would absolutely love if castro could claim the 2B job as his. Switch hitting is good for lineup balance, he provides some good power, i absolutely love his energy, and locking down the MIF could actually let us deal from a position of prospect strength for some high end pitching

jon6er

Lol, I’ve been chirping at him. He seems a bit distracted at the plate.

jon6er

Wow, freaking pathetic.

RAS TN

I see the Pirates get a chance to hit or not against Quintana on Sunday…Well hopefully, they get their weekly win tonight…

Last edited 24 days ago by RAS TN
PirateRican21

Contreras has thrown about an extra inning worth of pitches due errors.

AdministrativeSky236

Was it a passed ball or wild pitch?

PirateRican21

Wild pitch…..missed plays? Some catchers are better than others.

Last edited 24 days ago by PirateRican21
1979andCounting

I missed the first batter, so glad I got the TV on for the second batter…..Edmonds! LOL. Not.
Am I watching high school ball or what?

1979andCounting

Yes, I am watching more high school mistakes, now a TOOTBLAN by Cruz. I wonder if they teach “freeze on a line drive” with less than 2 outs in the Dominican?

1979andCounting

Delay is having a tough night. Hard to win games with giving 16 outs in the first 4 innings rather than 12.

jon6er

I really want a break from watching the Pirates but I have to watch Roansy face the Ratbirds hoping he is really as good as he appears to be and not jump off the ship if he does have a bad start. It would be nice to see him get some help from his offense and defense for a change. Curious to see what kind of outing Keller has on Sunday.

PirateRican21

Defense already letting you down, shocking!

jon6er

How many times have they made errors or didn’t make plays because of Shelton’s extreme shifts and guys having no idea where to go. I would think you would go over this with the players but it happens time after time.

PirateRican21

You are asking for too much sir!

ADCBE51D-8FD7-4886-A29E-BFE607E9D623.jpeg
jon6er

Lol, now a guy on after a strike out. Shelton always has his guys ready to play, lol.

cillo

I attended an Altoona game a few weeks ago clock used between pitches and innings was great. I live in Pittsburgh and figured it was better to watch minor leaguers at minor league prices than “major” leaguers in Pittsburgh.

Tired of watching all of the infielders that have been acquired in trades play the outfield or not their primary position in the infield at PNC Park.

Is Swggerty staying AAA because of his premature daughter. What took so long for Mitchell to rejoin the team?

NMR

So we’re getting more rule changes next year, eh?

The BA article this morning had this tidbit at the end about the one big rule change NOT coming:

One item that didn’t make the list of 2023 MLB rules changes is the automated ball-strike system that has been experimented with at various levels of the minors and the partner-league Atlantic League for several years. While there have been plenty of mixed reviews about a fully automated strike zone, the experiment in 2022 where the home plate umpire calls balls and strikes, but each team has a limited number of appeals to check the call with the automated strike zone has generally received much more favorable reviews from players and coaches.

Why does major league baseball hate itself.

AdministrativeSky236

Eh i dont hate an appeals process at first thought. Appeals should be quick and leaves the umpire in the game which is fun imo

Wilbur Miller

I didn’t much like the appeal system. It DID function quickly but it still interrupted the flow a bit, for me. And with most umps, it just seemed like a wash. There ARE bad umps, though. In one game, Cheng and Termarr each got consecutive strike calls reversed.

Maybe it’d function differently at the ML level. There IS research (forget the book’s name) showing that bad officiating throughout sports, including ball/strike calls, is almost entirely the product of home crowds, including crowd sizes. And, sure enough, according to that Twitter account, the Pirates do tend to get screwed.

john_fluharty

I was in charge I would make sure the stadium’s always full even if that meant reducing prices to the point where I don’t make a profit.

bucsws2014

Lower ticket prices wouldn’t do a thing. If someone gave you free tix to Nickleback, would you go? Free beer would be a start 😃

john_fluharty

Lol I would go I like Nickelback just enough.

NMR

The challenge process for big league replay has been so awful that it turned me off of replay all together. I cannot fathom how anyone thinks expanding that to balls and strikes is the optimal way of going about things.

docdon385

I hate replay too and always have, mainly because of how it’s used. It was supposed to be so egregiously and obviously bad calls could be corrected not to have perfection on every play.

Having said that, I do believe that if they intend to keep replay as it currently is they have to go to robo umps. You cannot have a close call reversed on the bases and then the game changed by a clearly wrong ball and strike call. It has to be all in or get rid of it entirely, and I think everyone knows the latter is not going to happen.

They could improve replay by doing what they apparently plan to do with pitchers. Put a 30 second clock on replay and if the call is not clearly wrong before the clock expires they have to leave it alone. They get one or maybe two looks at it and that would be enough to tell if it was clearly wrong or not. Stop with the multi angle microscopic reviews as even after several minutes the call can still be argued and often reasonably so.

Wilbur Miller

It really is, literally, just a couple seconds.

But stuff like that in the majors is far more likely to become a flash point. I just don’t trust MLB to do anything without unintended consequences.

TNBucs

What I’d like to see is a robo override for obvious balls and strikes. So, for example, if a pitch is called a strike 80%* of the time but the ump calls it a ball, he gets an immediate signal through a headset to change the call. Umps are still allowed to establish their zones as long as they’re not too far from normal and pitch framing remains an important skill. Umps are also incentivized to improve because nobody likes to make corrections.

*The key would be getting this number right–I don’t mind the human element of umpiring as long as they can eliminate the worst calls without slowing down the game.

NMR

Oh boy, Tim better increase the limit on the company credit card! 😉

Anthony Murphy

Did someone say company credit card 😂

Mtgj

I’m not so sure why so many people on here are so Down and negative towards the pirates.

The pirates were expected to win 64.5 games and that’s about where they will be when the season is over, my point is that none of us expected the major league team to be very good this year so I’m not sure why that has gotten so many people to be so negative about the future of this team.

On the flip side,
it is very clear that the pirates have 2 super stars in cruz and Roansy and both are 22.

Reynolds had a down year and he is still top 10 or 15 in most hitting category’s. I think there is a good chance he returns to his superstar level next year but if not then you still have a really good baseball player. I really hope they move him back to left field this offseason.

Keller looks like he has figured it out and I expect him to be really good next year.

Hayes looks like he will only be an average hitter but he is so good in the field that he will still be a good player even if he never is an above average hitter.

The catching situation looks like it’s going to be solved with endy very soon.

The upper levels of the system are loaded with talented guys that will be given chances next year to fill in some of the holes. Castro, suwinski, Mitchell, bae, burrows, Priester, swaggerty, Castillo, Gonzalez, Davis, and Nicholas. I am sure I’m missing a few others, but it will be fun to see which of those players step up and contribute next year.

I’m really hoping this offseason is the time that BC starts to sign some legitimate players to mix in with all the younger guys as well. They certainly need a good SP and I would be looking for a 1st baseman.

My biggest concern is the bullpen. This team has lost so many games because there bullpen has been nothing short of awful. It’s time that BC figured this out and starts to put together a bullpen that is a strength.

I’m not saying this team is going to the playoffs in 2023, but if they can turn the bullpen around I could see them being around .500.

I understand that watching the pirates play awful baseball can be frustrating, but I think they are really close to turning the corner and I couldn’t be more excited for the future of this team.

1979andCounting

I like your post, except I don’t think Reynolds is in the top 15 of anything. Haven’t done any checking of stats…….that’s just my gut feeling on him.

1979andCounting

So I decided to do some fact-checking. Reynolds is not in the top 15 of NL (let alone MLB) of any offensive category……except T7th in NL triples with 4. He’s 26th in OPS in NL. He’s a dismal 46th in WAR in NL. You are kidding yourself even using the words “super star” and Reynolds in the same sentence. He and Hayes performance this season are why I am not nearly as optimistic about the future as you Mtgj.

AttyMike

If you like a subpar product year after year, then I can get why you’d be ok with the Pirates this year.

NMR

I’m not gonna knock anyone for doing whatever they need to convince themselves to be excited about their favorite team but can you write a more damning profile of a sports team?

“Why are you bitching about the pasta, you KNOW the chef sucks!”

Last edited 24 days ago by NMR
TNBucs

The pirates were expected to win 64.5 games and that’s about where they will be when the season is over”

Part of the problem is that in year three of Cherington’s “build” we were only projected to win 64.5 games. The other part of the problem is that we’ll likely underachieve even that modest projection (Fangraphs currently projects us with 61 wins, not a huge difference, but when the bar is set low and you still can’t clear it, it’s hard to feel optimistic).

There are signs of hope as you point out, but also no evidence that the current management team can bring out that potential. Some of my long-term hope is that if the current management team can’t realize the potential in the system, that talent will still be here when the next management team takes over.

skliesen

I really want to believe what you’re saying. I really do. I just don’t.

I have no faith in BC or DS doing what’s necessary to bring a winner to Pittsburgh. I need evidence to support the claim they are close to even being a .500 team. Unfortunately they are trending down not up as the season has progressed. Very few prospects have exceeded expectations. No reason to believe money will be spent to bolster the roster.

Hope they prove me wrong.

jsdspud

I agree that the team wasn’t expected to be good and has met those lower expectations. I am tied of the FO doing things the same way year after year, examples include:

They worry about Super 2 like an extra year of arbitration is going to bankrupt the franchise. In reality, Super 2 only get really expensive for a handful of guys because they have won or were in the running for an MVP or Cy Young award.

They bring in a light hitting middle infielder at the end of spring training when there are already 7 other players on the 40 man roster that could perform just as well. Josh Van Meter is the 2022 version of this. (Nothing against him personally, he is infinately better at baseball than me. We just didn’t need him this year.)

Hitting on a cheap free agent pickup, then trading them at the deadline for more prospects. If you think about it, trading Vogelbach and Quintanna was the opposite of what they should have done. Not that they would be cornerstones of a championship team but they are major leaguers who would make the team better.

Tomkatf14

The cheapest way to plant a flag would be to offer Ro 7/40 Mitch 6/50, Cruz 8/60 and BRey 4/80. I doubt BRey takes it, but that guarantees appx 100M in career earnings. It’s not bad. And then dumpster dive from there. You say “this is our team and these are our guys”. The city can bond with them. I bet the first 3 take it. Combined with Hayes and the years of control with Bednar you have your core for 5+ years. You can sell QP, Tank, Nick, Gorski and the plethora of fringe guys like Suwinski as the cavalry. And that roster with just 5-7M in FA spending is still between 85-90M. The best part about those deals is every one of those would be readable and affordable if things go south. I keep going back to what Nutting said when Key signed…he said this is a flag in the ground where we move forward. I do believe they will offer all 4 this December

AdministrativeSky236

I like your optimism, and I would be a happy camper if some version of this were to come true

AttyMike

I get the sense that the organization treated the game this year as exhibition games yet again. They didn’t mean anything; winning was secondary. They cycled umpteen tryout players through. Its disrespedtful to the paying customers. They simply do not care at all about their customers. That’s what gets my goat the most. They pretend they’re trying to win but its a lie. There’s clearly no expectation from the front office that they’ll win games.

NMR

“Yeah but you knew this coming in so shut up and be happy” apparently did not make the cut on the Marketing Department edit table.

NMR

Cruz’s season is one that makes you wonder how tf DRS is calculated. Polar opposite outlier compared to every other public defensive metric.

b mcferren

I am hoping for Miguel Sano and James Paxton to join us in 2023

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

I want Rodón, Nimmo, Mancini and Roberto Perez take 2.

AdministrativeSky236

Honestly these wouldnt be such bad options. Of course would love to aim higher, but they are probably realistic

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Nimmo pushes Reynolds to LF. Rodón, Roansy, Keller, Bru and spare parts is a good rotation until Preister and Burrows are ready. Mancini could be pretty good at PNC for a few years.

Hayes
Nimmo
Reynolds
Cruz
Mancini
Suwinski/Mitchell/Smith-Ngijba (sp, sorry)
Castro
Nick G/Bae
Perez

AdministrativeSky236

Would be very happy with nimmo and mancini, though they will both cost much more than i expect the bucs to spend. Also, rodon will probably get like 4/100 or something so i dont expect the bucs to be anywhere near that price (as much as i would love it)

Last edited 24 days ago by AdministrativeSky236
Tomkatf14

They aren’t signing Mancini. Even if they pony up the cash why would he sign?

A realistic legitimate starting pitcher they could afford would be JaMo. He would cost 4/80 probably. I can see them doing that. He would make the SP much better and would be a fan favorite. Paxton would be a backup, as would Quintana.

There are two realistic 1B/DH options. The first is Josh Bell. He will likely command 4/60. I don’t mean to dig up the past, but if we’re going to raise payroll somewhat JaMo and Bell are probably the two top guys that fit the bill and somewhat fit what we would spend.

A dumpster dive 1B would be Brandon Belt who would probably take a 1 year deal before Tank takes over. He’s one year removed from being very good and 3 years removed from getting an MVP vote. There’s reason to believe he would be the best 1B player we’ve had since Bell’s 2 month tear in 2019.

As for the comment earlier about Cruz ranking 29th of 37 qualifying SS’s defensively, is that necessarily a disappointment? He’s functional. He’s the top of the bottom quartile. I question it longterm, but is he killing us there? Especially if he puts up historic offensive numbers?

You plug in a moderately successful bat-first 1B, a legit #2 starter and hope for bullpen health and you can craft a narrative that this team could take a substantial jump in 23

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

I think 5/$130 even! I’d pay it because they need a shot at a top arm in this next five years + having one or two of Preister, Burrows, Roansy, etc getting close to that level too. I posted this elsewhere but with Rodon, Nimmo, Mancini and Perez they’re still just a $112M team!

Tomkatf14

They aren’t having a 110M payroll team. Not till they get good. You can adjust to 125M for inflation. I think realistically they raise payroll to 80M next year. So you have to ask yourself who fits that bill? Is it getting all 4 extendable guys (Reynolds, Ro, Cruz and Mitch) to sign extensions? Is it to get 2 of them to sign and then offering a SP and Belt?

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Hell, I’d be happy with a Rodon signing plus a Reynolds extension.

AdministrativeSky236

I mean I would love it dont get me wrong!

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Rodon and Nimmo make the team good. Rodon is the most important signing.

MB21

One of the rookie outfielders will have a big spring but it remains to be seen if he can translate that into the regular season. Cruz will take strides to be a superhero and Hayes will begin working on taking trainer training classes so that he can do self-therapy to keep himself on the field. Bae will get a shot but won’t be played consistently enough to make anything of his major league experience (unless new management is in place).

Bednar will struggle to come back to snuff but if Oviedo is moved back to the pen, he will flourish. Keller will become a solid starter as will Roansy (except for a few horrible starts). Reynolds will get back to his “odd number” year monster stats, particularly if there is any semblance of protection in the lineup. But overall the team will still stink without any outside help via free agency that comes from anywhere but the bargain bin.

MB21

Oh, and pssst – a catcher from this year’s AA squad will be ready to play in the majors if only management will actually see the value in letting the wings of a young star spread!

HeyFred

I note that the team is winless since JVM’s departure. Maybe he really was the glue that held oh nevermind.

RAS TN

Maybe a bit early for this question but whatever…What exactly did the Pirates learn from 2022?

For me…

What was thought to be their 2 best players Hayes and Reynolds went backward.
Still no answer for the catching and 1st base position at least for 2023
Cruz and Castro may turn out to be possible starters for the future or may not…
A bunch of possibilities for outfield but no one stood out so that is still a big question mark for the future…

Pitching overall is .just ONE big question mark for SP and RP. Have really made maybe 2 steps forward on candidates for SP but that’s it…

No real plan to win at the major league level…Playing players out of position, and shuffling players in and out of the lineup is not a way at least for me a way to win. Rookie players need to learn one position and play it well and then somewhere down the road have them play around the field if they show that ability…

b mcferren

learned the starting pitching is better than expected and Marin is not as bad as originally thought

learned Oneal Cruz is actually great at playing short stop

learned that BC can pull a rabbit out of his hat at will each offseason with a reclamation starting pitcher acquisition

learned that the carrot for player service time is still not sweet enough to persuade us from holding our rookies back until July

learned that the stick for tanking is not painful enough to keep on tanking

learned that we have quantity and not quality of outfielders causing everyone to reconsider trading Reynolds

learned that Nick Gonzalez can walk the plank every season and comes back swinging

PirateRican21

Someone hacked b mc’s account!

hoffmark83

For me it’s that their relief pitchers are good for 1 not 2 innings. Cruz will be a starter for the future but, not a super star or all star. I also agree with you that they seem to have no real plan. Just keep picking up those waiver wires.

joebaseball

Cruz can be a future starter if you move him to a position that he can play 1B. He has the bat and his poor fielding would be less of a detriment there.

hoffmark83

With the way the Pirates have performed this year unless there is MAJOR turnover in both management, coaches and players, no excitement at all from me for next season to get here.

RAS TN

2024…

b mcferren

any chance for cameo’s on the last day of the season? Tank? Nick? Endy? a start for Priester or Burrows?

joebaseball

Like to see TSwags get end of year call up now that he is healthy. Future CF

Most Voted Comments

Menu
119
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x