While the team's general manager will compare the 2018 Pirates to the 2013 endgame group, the Pirates will not sneak up on anyone
I do not know if I am offended or oddly impressed as a person who has followed the Pirates all my life and has covered them as a member of the media for almost the last decade.
I can not decide whether the collective statements of Bob Nutting, Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington, statements made after the exchanges of Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, are more offensive in their deafness of tone, or impressive in their audacity.
Huntington can not seem to decide if the Pirates are really rebuilding, which is somewhat problematic, since he is the general manager. Joe Starkey and I talked to him on Tuesday at The Fan, and he kept his story that the Pirates, the post-Cole and McCutchen exchanges, were on the verge of contention in the playoffs, according to the team's internal projections.
The general manager went on to compare this year's squad with the 2013 squad that came out of nowhere to win 94 games, shock the world of baseball and finally end 20 years of defeats. The problem is that there are some key differences between the Pirates 2018 and that group.
First, that team had, well, Andrew McCutchen. And he was coming from his best season, entering the best moment of his career. It was the type of fundamental piece, of high level, that all equipment needs to be successful.
That team also had Cole waiting in the wings as a call. To say that Cole was shot in the arm would be an understatement. It was so good that, by the end of the year, it was the man who got the ball to try to push the Pirates beyond San Luis in Game 5 of the NLDS.
This year's team has … what, exactly? Gregory Polanco and Starling Mars, two players who have disappointed fans for many reasons. I do not trust either of you to become a great superstar. Mars is what it is, and that might not be much, suspension after PED. Polanco is still young enough to take a leap, but nothing I've seen suggests that happens.
Where is the 2013 Gerrit Cole for rotation? Certainly, it does not seem that Tyler Glasnow will fulfill that role, given the fact that he still can not throw punches constantly at the level of the Major Leagues. Francisco Cervelli is not Russell Martin, Ivan Nova and Trevor Williams are not Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett, and so on.
In addition, the Pirates' five-year-old ball-oriented approach, one that was novel when combined with the team's aggressive defensive change philosophy, is now commonplace in the league. The team is not exploiting market inefficiencies this time. They are not stealthily approaching anyone.
Coonelly spoke about the team challenging this year's expectations, a feeling that sounds especially hollow when Cole and McCutchen, two players who would have helped for that purpose, are freshly minted members of the new team.
That said, money stops, literally and figuratively, with Bob Nutting. The anger in Huntington and Coonelly is fine and justified, but no member of the office has been more brazen in his contempt of reality than the main owner of the team. No person is more responsible for the current situation of the Pirates than the man who signs the checks.
When asked if the team would ever escape the talent development cycle just to change it when the price was too high, Nutting suggested that such a situation would require a fundamental reworking of the economic model of baseball. Some might assume that means you are not delighted with the status quo. The truth is the opposite. Nutting and the pirates ratified the last collective bargaining agreement a few years ago. The only team that did not do it was the Tampa Bay Rays.
Make no mistake: the Pirates could spend more money on their payroll. They are profitable. Money keeps coming for Major League teams, whether from MLB Advanced Media payments, or from revenue sharing, something designed to help level the playing field to a certain degree for the smaller market teams.
The funds are there. The owner has chosen not to spend them. He was not forced to do this. This is the path he chose. The consequences are your harvest.
Except for something highly unlikely, the Pirates will not contain this year. The same goes for 2019, and maybe 2020 and beyond. The only group of people who seem to think that this is fine, that this is fine, that this is more or less part of the plan, and not a great betrayal of the faithful followers of the team, is the main office.
I would almost be impressed by the audacity, if I was not so upset.
Chris Mueller is the co-host of the Starkey & Mueller Show & # 39; from 2 to 6 p. M. Monday through Friday at 93.7 The Fan.