Sometimes it can be very easy to find ourselves becoming attached to individual players.
In other times, it can be difficult to trust in a player that may be seeing a breakthrough.
We spend a lot time debating trades as they happen, and even years later, whether the trade was won or lost.
Baseball is ever-changing. What we thought mattered 10 years ago might not be the case now. Mitch Keller — someone who the fan base has slowly began trusting in — began seeing success after utilizing a sinker, a pitch that was synonymous with Ray Searage and the demise of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I liked the Neil Walker for Jon Niese trade. I thought they should have gotten more, but that didn’t deter from the fact that Jon Niese was coming off a slight down year after five straight years of 2-3 fWAR. Think about that for a second. We’re currently DEMANDING the Pirates add some sort of 2-3 fWAR pitcher starting pitcher.
I didn’t despise the Chris Archer or Francisco Liriano trades. I was lukewarm and became a little more upset when Reese McGuire and Shane Baz were added to their respective trade. Both trades in the long run essentially became washes.
One aspect that I’ve enjoyed since stumbling upon Pirates Prospects is being able to closely follow the growth and development of so many individual players. Most know that I’m a huge advocate for Cal Mitchell, Yerry De Los Santos, and Blake Sabol. At one point I was a lead table-pounder for Adam Frazier, Chad Kuhl, and (yes I’ll admit it) even Max Moroff.
Maybe Mason Martin peaks in Triple-A, but that doesn’t take away from the excitement following his climb up the organizational ladder. One year he’s getting demoted from struggling at the plate, and the next he’s hitting walk-off three-run home runs in back-to-back games of a double header for Greensboro.
I watched every single 2019 Cody Bolton start. Every single one. I’ve been waiting for the moment he make his Pirates debut.
I used to not care for what name was below the big league level, aside from the random top prospect like Andrew McCutchen. That’s if I even knew who a kid was before he debuted. Next, I found myself blowing off softball games because I HAD to be at the bar to catch Gregory Polanco or Tyler Glasnow’s debut.
Think back to the Christian Yelich trade. The Miami Marlins got a huge haul from the Milwaukee Brewers. Lewis Brinson was a recent Top 100 prospect that had seen early struggles. Monte Harrison was a toolsy outfielder that eventually found himself among the Top 100. Isan Diaz was a power hitting second baseman that broke into the Top 100. Then there was Jordan Yamamoto who actually had a rather successful 2019 campaign before not being able to find his way back.
I bring this trade up not to compare against Pirates trades, but as, “We really have no idea what’s going to happen”. Also because at the time the Marlins Triple-A affiliate was the New Orleans Baby Cakes and 2019 was a fantastic year prospect-wise.
This week’s discussion is more for reflection and in retrospect. Think about some trades that either made you instantly grab for your heart medication, or one that you thought was a perfect fit. Think about a prospect that you either thought had no chance, or one you thought was a no-doubter. What are your thoughts now on said trade or prospect?
Pirates social media has really circled around the prospects this go-round, which I’m all for. At the same time it feels people are putting too much trust in the expectations that there will be no slip-ups. There may be some prospects that most expect to succeed that don’t, and then there will be a Luis Ortiz type that very few had a book on who steps up and fans say, “Wait, who is this guy?”
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.