Pirates Morning Report: Mid-January

The last time I wrote about the Pirates in late November there have been two big stories. Bryan Reynolds asked to be traded and the Pirates signed Andrew McCutchen to a one year deal to bring him back to Pittsburgh. The Pirates continued to unload dead wood during this time. The sent Bryce Wilson with his -1.1 WAR and Zach Thompson with his -0.3 WAR, both packing. They got money and a pop machine for Wilson. They picked up a minor league outfielder and 4000 yards of bandage materials for Thompson. They got rid of Diego Castillo and his -0.9 WAR for a minor league pitcher and 49 rosin bags. None of these moves were very surprising. I thought they might try both pitchers in the bullpen but the fact that they are gone is fine with me.

Signing Andrew McCutchen was a great PR move, and the fans seem to love it. Many cynics out there feel this move is going to precede the trading of Reynolds and was done to appease the fans. Many in baseball feel that McCutchen will do little to enhance the Pirates ability to win games. I find it interesting that there were reports that McCutchen was offered similar and even better deals, but took the Pirates offer because it included the opportunity for more playing time. I think coming back to Pittsburgh might give McCutchen a performance boost in all phases of the game. Even if he just performs as he did last year, he would be an average major league hitter, and this is something that the Pirates desperately need. They had only 3 players last year that were above average hitters. I think he still has a lot to offer and if he can stay healthy, he should contribute to a Pirate winning season. He looks in great shape and other than a freak knee injury in 2019 he has played in at least 130 games every year. There is no question he is an outfield upgrade.

It was not a shocker when Bryan Reynolds made public that he wanted to be traded. His name has been part of trade rumors for well over a year now. I have no emotional feeling over a Bryan Reynolds trade. They either trade him, or they don’t, and hopefully they get a return that would have an immediate impact on the club. I stated that if that is what it takes to get him out of centerfield then I am all for it. I felt that the Pirates would not have a winning season with him in centerfield. Since watching the Top Ten Centerfielders Now, on MLB Network, I have changed my mind. On the 6 human ballots and the infamous MLB The Shredder, Reynolds ranked anywhere from third to seventh as one of the best centerfielders in the game. It was brought up on the show how bad his defensive metrics were for 2022 but it was also mentioned that he was about an average fielder in 2021. It looks like the Pirates are not going to get a real centerfielder anyway, so I think the Pirates will do fine with Reynolds in center. Maybe he was just trying to help the Pirates lose games in 2022 like they wanted to. There is no reason to believe that he cannot make a comeback on the fielding side of the ball. Therefore, I no longer think that getting Reynolds out of centerfield is a prerequisite for the Pirates to have a winning season and contend for the division title.

With spring training to begin in earnest in about a month, the Pirates continue to make moves that are improving the ballclub. Although there have been some in the local media that have been putting out some positive vibes on the upcoming Pirate season, I have not seen anyone in the national media saying the Pirates may be a surprise or contending team in 2023. Most feel the moves that the Cubs have made are making them the main threat to the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, there are lots of unknowns out there when talking about the Pirates, but I still feel that if they can avoid major injury and arm trouble that they will win 80 some games and make a run at the playoffs. However, I feel there is a minimum performance level, of at least winning 75 games. If this group cannot come up with at least this many wins in 2023 then this rebuild is in major trouble.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: