The 2023 Pirates, They Will Contend.

It is always hard to predict what a team will do in a coming season. There is always the unknown, such as injuries, young player performance and what if any moves the team is going to make. I feel the Pirates will be in the hunt for the division title in 2023. However, there will be a few things that will have to happen, or all bets are off. This is assuming that the Pirates will really try to win in 2023. I feel they are not going to drag this out for another year. Before I get to why I think the Pirates are going to win in 2023, let’s look at the things that have to happen, first. There are some things I would like to see happen, but I do not feel they are absolutely necessary for the Pirates to contend.

First, both Kevin Newman and Ben Gamel should not be on the opening day roster. They are 30 year old players who have shown they do not have much to offer at the major league lever. They had WAR’s of 1.1 and .1 respectively. Gamel is a horrible fielder, and both are below average hitters. If this is what’s on the bench next year, then the Pirates cannot be serious about winning. The second thing that must happen is they must get Bryan Reynolds out of centerfield. The SABR Defensive Index, which contributes to the Gold Glove Rankings, lists him as the worst fielding centerfielder in all of baseball. The Pirates have to find themselves a centerfielder. I do not know that they have to go to the extreme of getting a Jackie Bradley type, all field, no hit player, but they have got to have a big upgrade at one of the most important defensive positions. There are always trade rumors concerning Reynolds, but if that is what it takes to remove him from centerfield, then let’s do it for the right return. If Reynolds is out in centerfield on opening day, then it will be hard for the Pirates to contend. My own opinion is to put him in left field, and I think he becomes an asset again. This is a player who slashed .262/345/461, with an OPS+126, yet only had a 2.9 WAR. In comparison Oneil Cruz, who had over 200 less at bats than Reynolds, had a WAR of 2.3. Even with his defense, he came close to Reynold’s WAR in about 2/3rds of the playing time. The final part of this equation is good old free agency. Will the Pirates sign some legitimate free agents and not those scumbags they signed last year, with the exception of Jose Quintana. The Pirates could sign 3 players at 20 million a year or 2 players at 30 million a year and their team payroll would still not top 100 million. They need help at catcher, centerfield, the bullpen and even at 1st base. Getting Ji-Man Choi is a huge upgrade at 1st base, but he has not done that well against left hand pitching. Even if the Pirates do little on the free agent market, I still think they will contend. Anything they do there or the trade market that would be considered significant, I would consider a bonus, and would increase their chances of winning the division.

I feel the Pirates will contend because I feel the young talent they have is ready to step up their games and perform at a higher level than they did last year. The infield should be solid with Castro, Cruz and Hayes. It would be nice to see Hayes pick up on his hitting. He has been a below average hitter the last 2 seasons. If he can improve on that and stay healthy, he would become even more of an asset. Diego Castillo can fill in when needed. The outfield needs to find a centerfielder. Reynolds should be fine in left and Jack Suwinski is solid in right. Cal Mitchell and Ji Hwan Bae will fill in. Catcher is basically empty right now. Henry Davis could make his debut in 2023 but injuries have slowed his progress somewhat. A lot will depend on who the Pirates obtain but I do not look at this being a critical move. The starting rotation if they can avoid the surgeon’s knife should be a strong point for this team. In fact, if they make any free agent moves when it comes to the starting rotation, they could do a 6 man rotation. Right now, the rotation would be Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, J.T. Brubaker, Johan Oviedo, and Luis Ortiz. Bryse Wilson and Zach Thompson did little to distinguish themselves last year, even though they had plenty of opportunities. I don’t put much stock in Wilson’s final very good outing. These two may do better in the bullpen, much like Will Crow did last year. Yes, last but certainly not least the bullpen. There is no question the most volatile and unpredictable part of any ball club. Teams have spent heavily on the free agent market on relief pitchers, only to see it all go down in flames as these pitchers under performed. The bullpen had its ups and downs last year but seems to have a solid core, with David Bednar, Chase De Jong and Will Crowe. I should have put Duane Underwood Junior in my list of, if he is still pitching in the bullpen, then all bets are off. Whether it is from within or without the Pirates will have to find some arms to shore up the bullpen. There are plenty of them out there.

The main reason I think the Pirates will contend is Ben Cherington. He has the pedigree. He took Boston from worst to first from 2012 to 2013. He left Boston because of a change of ownership. He left Boston with a slew of good young players that helped them win another title in 2018. He is like any GM, he is not infallible, but the young talent the Pirates have, look pretty good at the moment. There are things that can happen that can change the fortunes of a team in the blink of an eye. I know they have the same cheapskate owner but maybe he will finally spend some money. Only time will tell. Even if he does not, the Pirates have a young core that can make things happen. The Central Division is far from a strong division. This is the year the Pirates should make their move and win their first division title in 30 years.

Pirates Morning Report, I Only Thought The Pirates Would Do That

Final Score: Pirates 3 Cardinals 2

How The 2023 Pirates Did: The Pirate’s bats were quiet for most of the game. Reynolds, Castillo, Suwinski and Delay each got 1 hit, with Reynolds doubling in a run and Suwinski hitting a home run. Keller started off strong but faltered in the 6th giving up 4 straight hits to start the inning, including a 2 run homer to Albert Pujols. The Pirates only struck out 2 times which may be a season low. The bullpen hung tough for the 2nd game in a row.

Key Moment of The Game: Earlier, I wrote that the Pirate’s bats were quiet, but they were very quiet in the bottom of the 9th. In fact, they never made a sound. Unbelievably, the Cardinals walked the first 4 batters in the bottom of the 9th to lose the game. If I thought I would ever see something like that, it would be the Pirates who would do it. I was wrong and the Pirates won 3-2.

Next Game: Tonight, Cardinals in Pittsburgh. Came close to the lineup last night but Newman had to start. Can the Pirates avoid 100 losses? Who cares, certainly management doesn’t.

Pirates Morning Report, Bullpen Back To Early Season Form

Final Score: Pirates 7 Cardinals 5

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Roansy Contreras did not have his usual stuff as he gave up 4 runs, 2 earned, on 3 hits, walking 2, and 0 strikeouts in just 3 innings of work. The bullpen worked the last 6 innings giving up just 1 run on 7 hits, walking 3, while striking out 5. The bats woke up, with Reynolds, Cruz, and Bae getting 2 hits each. Reynolds hit a home run in the 7th to give the Pirates a 2 run cushion. David Bednar got a save and holy surprise the Pirates won.

Key Moment of The Game: The bottom of the 9th was interesting with a one out double and then a 2 out walk. Corey Dickerson had a chance to be the hero again against his old team but David Bednar got him to ground out to 2nd to end the game and give the Pirates a 7-5 win

Next Game: Tonight Cardinals in Pittsburgh. Tyler Heineman returned from concussion protocol and was cleared for play because he did not think the movie McGruber was funny. He proved that everything was ok by going O for 4.

Pirates Morning Report, Dickerson’s Revenge

Final Score: Pirates 3 Cardinals 13

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Luis Ortiz who had 2 very nice starts, got racked for 6 runs in the 1st inning to begin a dismal performance for the 2023 Pirates. They got 6 hits with Jason Delay getting 1 and driving in 2 runs. Cal Mitchell got 2 hits and scored 1 run. It was just another blowout loss for the Pirates as the season winds slowly painfully down. Oneil Cruz did not play, as management wanted to get a good look at Kevin Newman. Cruz developed well on the bench and was also thankful that he was not part of this debacle.

Key Moment of The Game: It looked like Ortiz might get out of the inning with only 2 runs scoring despite his wildness. The bases were loaded with one out and then Corey Dickerson unloaded a bomb to clear the bases and make the score 6-0. The former Pirate exacted a nice revenge on his former teammates and this game was over.

Next Game: This afternoon, Cardinals in St. Louis. It would be so nice to see a lineup with no Newman, Gamel, Godoy or Collins. I just don’t think it will happen even this late in the season. It would be so much fun to watch, but why change things now. Just 4 games to go.

Pirates Morning Report, Only The Uniforms Are Red

Final Score: Pirates 1 Cardinals 2

How The 2023 Pirates Did: The top of the order went 0 for 12 which is never a good thing. Ji Hwan Bae had the best game going 2 for 4 and driving in the only run for the Pirates. Suwinski, Hayes and Castro each got one hit. Johan Oviedo pitched another good game giving up 2 runs on 6 hits, walking 2, striking out 4, while throwing 103 pitches. The Pirates bats could do very little at the plate. The Cardinals made 2 acrobatic catches of foul balls including one by Paul Goldschmidt to end the game. The Cardinals showed again they are one of the best fielding teams in the league.

Key Moment of The Game: The 3 singles in the bottom of the 5th, none of which were hit that hard, but produced the 2nd and go ahead run. The Pirates offense was pretty much putrid and then they realized that even though the uniforms were red these were not the Reds anymore. No gifts today, as the Pirates went quietly down to defeat

Next Game: Tonight, Cardinals in St. Louis. The season is grinding mercifully down to an end. Just 5 more ridiculous lineups to go.

Pirates Morning Report, Workin Overtime

Final Score: Pirates 4 Reds 3 in 10 innings

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Oneil Cruz had another 2 hit game, driving in 2 runs and scoring another. Andujar and Cal Mitchel each had 2 hits. Those of you that bet on Jose Goday to get a hit this season won. The story of the day was the pitching performance of Bryse Wilson who went 8 innings giving up only 3 hits,walking 1, striking out 6, while throwing 90 pitches. Too bad the performance was almost wasted by the pathetic performance of Chase Delong who was blasted for 2 home runs and was lucky they only scored 3 runs.

Key Moment of The Game: The top of the 10th where the Reds failed to get a run even though facing a mediocre reliever in Yahan Ramirez. They even tried to bunt which again shows David Bell to be the worse manger in baseball. They deserved the at’em ball hit to Cruz to end the inning. Kevin Newman got the big 2 out hit to end the game.

Next Game: Friday, the Cardinals in St. Louis. The season is winding down with 6 games to go. Just 6 more bizarre starting lineups. I won’t have anything to look forward to after next week.

Pirates Morning Report, Crowe’s Comeback

Final Score: Pirates 4 Reds 1

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Oneil Cruz went 2 for 5 and scored a run. I don’t know if Miguel Andujar will be part of the 2023 Pirates but he got the big hit of the night, a 1 out double to drive in 3 runs and give the Pirates a 4-1 lead that the bullpen protected the final 2 innings. Will Crowe had his first solid outing in a long time, pitching 2 scoreless innings, striking out 2, and throwing only 24 pitches. Things really got back to normal with David Bednar picking up the save. The rest of the 2023 Pirates while not spectacular got 5 hits combine with 5 walks. The only one not getting on base was Jason Delay. Then there was Zack Josh Van Collins Meter going 0 for 4, striking out 3 times, and now is 1 for 25 as a Pirate. What a guy!

Key Moment of The Game: Mitch Keller getting out of the bases loaded jam in the top of the 5th. After 9 pitches there were 2 out and nobody on base. Then the bases were loaded on 2 singles and a walk. But Keller got Aristides Aquino to fly out to right field.

Next Game: This afternoon Reds in Pittsburgh. I guess because tickets are $10 the Pirates feel it’s ok to keep playing Zack Josh Van Collins Meter. It makes you wonder why they even DFA’d Josh Van Meter. Maybe he was doing too well to stay on the team. That must have been it.

Pirates Morning Report, Well, It Was a Good 6 Innings.

How The 2023 Pirates Did: There were 8 of the 2023 Pirates in the starting lineup and they lost for the 2nd straight game. They could not really get runs across the plate, but it was the 28 and 29 year old rejects that contributed heavily to this loss. More on that later. Oneil Cruz got 2 hits and drove in the only run. Reynolds, Mitchell, Delay, and Castro got 1 hit each. Suwinski and Chavis had tough games going 0 for 8, striking out 6 times. Roansy Contreras pitched another solid if not spectacular game giving up 1 run on 4hits, walking 2, and striking out 5 over 6 innings, throwing 92 pitches. It dropped the 2023 Pirates record to 2-2 and they are going to have to find ways to put more runs on the board even w hen Van Meter is the DH. Can you believe that? Why don’t the Pirates just let pitchers’ bat, but I guess that would be too obvious.

Key Moment of The Game: After the Oneil Cruz triple with one out that drove in the run, Kevin (What’s the strike zone) Newman came to bat. He swung at the first pitch that was a border line strike, but a strike none the less. The next 2 pitches were not close to the strike zone, and he swung at both of them to help cool off the crowd, but it did nothing to help score Cruz. In the top of the 7th DUJ came in to lose the game. He took a while but succeeded by giving up a single, 2 walks and then a double to clear the bases and send the Blue Jays to a 4 to 1 victory. DUJ, management loves you. Hopefully not enough to be on the team next year.

Next Game: Today at Noon, Blue Jays in Pittsburg. The game is going to be on Peacock, as the network is trying to get rid of subscribers by showing the Pirates. Could we have 3 games in a row with 7 or more of the 2023 Pirates in the starting lineup. I would be shocked if that happens. They have lost 2 in a row, so they are contributing to getting the No. 1 pick.

Pirates Morning Report, Always Nice to Beat The Reds

Final Score: Pirates 5 Reds 4

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Six of them got to play last night and it was Michael Chavis who got the walk off hit. Jason Delay was the only member not to get a hit. Madris had 2 hits, Cruz, Castro, and Reynolds had one each. I will admit that it was the 29-30 year old rejects that had the big game. Newman had 2 hits, 2 runs scored and 2 RBIs. Ben Gamel had 3hits and 1 RBI and did not mess up too bad in the field. He did have one bonehead baserunning move, but all is forgiven in a win. Bryce Wilson a non-member, in my mind, of next year’s starting rotation, none the less pitched a solid 7 innings, giving up 3 runs on long balls, but only allowing 3 other hits, all singles and not walking a batter. Both he and Zach Thompson have had their moments this year. It would be nice to see them become next year’s Will Crowe. They have about another 6 weeks to show their stuff. It is always nice to beat the moronic Reds, who without a doubt have the worse manager in baseball. He makes Shelton look like Einstein.

Key Moment of The Game: In the bottom of the 9th the Reds bring in the lefty, intentionally walk Bryan Reynolds, to face the left hand hitting Gamel. Gamel works the count to 3 and 2, them gets hit by a pitch to load the bases. Two pitches later Chavis put the Reds out of their putrid misery.

Next Game: Tonight, Reds in Pittsburgh. It would be nice to see a lineup with 7 to 8 members of the 2023 Pirates. Newman and Gamel have been hot lately, so they made need a rest. Could Padlock start tomorrow. He could be the key to victory. I just can’t help myself, but I think it was pretty clever. Or how about starting Parking Meter, that may be the ticket to a victory. Ok, I’m done now. It’s been a long season.

Pirates Morning Report, Walking to Victory

Final Score: Pirates 5 Brewers 3

Why The Pirates Won: The Pirates could only manage 4 hits and 5 walks but got 3 of them in the 6th and all 3 came around to score, 2 on the home run by Oneil Cruz and the other on a single by Tyler Heineman. Then Heineman came around to third on a throwing error and scored on a pass ball. The Brewers were in a charitable mood last night to help the Pirates end their 7 game losing streak. All the scoring took place in the 6th as the Brewers went yard 3 times to score their runs and at the time it looked like the Pirates were going down for the 8th time in a row. The Brewers said no way, here is a victory just for you.

Key Moment of The Game: The Cruz homer was the big hit of the game and it’s been awhile since the Pirates made someone pay when they made a mistake. This time the Pirates produced a 5 run inning that was good enough to win the game, as the bullpen came through and held the lead.

Next Game: Tonight, Brewers in Pittsburgh. It was amazing that the ace of the Brewers, Corbin Burnes walked 5 in 5.1 innings to allow the Pirates to score 5 runs and win the game. There is still no end in sight to the offensive slump. Another game with double digit strikeouts. There is a starting lineup that could probably hit better, but the Pirates will never play them this year, and some of them are not even on the team.

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