Hope Springs Eternal: Pittsburgh Pirates Pitchers & Catchers Report to Bradenton


While the 2020 season may be an unsatisfactory one for Pittsburgh Pirates fans, hope springs eternal today as pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton to kick off Spring Training 2020

133 days have passed since the Pittsburgh Pirates last played a baseball game. 133 days ago the Pirates were defeated by the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 at PNC Park on September 29th, 2019. Now, baseball is right around the corner again as Pirate pitchers and catchers will report to Bradenton, Florida, on Monday.

In the Pirates’ last game it was the first game after the dismissal of long time manager Clint Hurdle. After nine largely successful seasons at the helm, Hurdle’s tenure in Pittsburgh came to an end earlier in the day on the 29th. This was just the start of an off-season of change for the Pirates.

While many fans, and rightfully so, have their problems with Bob Nutting and his ownership, this off-season he did something that was needed and cleaned house. In addition to Hurdle, team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington were also let go. First, Travis Williams was hired as the team’s new president. He then hired Ben Cherington as general manager, who then tabbed Derek Shelton the team’s new manager.

By all accounts, all three of these hires were strong ones by the Pirates.

Cherington and Shelton then got to work to start and clean this mess up. Cherington has overhauled much of the team’s front office, including having added rising stars Steve Sanders and Oz Ocampo.

Seemingly, Shelton has also put together a strong coaching staff. In addition to keeping well respected hitting coach Rick Eckstein and third base coach Joey Cora, who had multiple managerial interviews this off-season, Shelton added well regarded coaches such as Glenn Sherlock and Tarrik Brock, in addition to a future manager in Pittsburgh native Don Kelly.

This off-season Cherington, Shelton and the Pirates have also put an emphasis back on something that was a team strength when the made the postseason three years in a row in 2013 – 2015 but has lacked in recent seasons. What is that you ask? Catcher defense. This was made clear by free agent additions Luke Maile and John Ryan Murphy, as well as the addition of Sherlock to the coaching staff as he is known as possibly the best catcher coach in all of baseball. Mix in Jacob Stallings appearing to be on his way to becoming one of the best defensive catchers in the game, and the team’s defense behind the plate, the most important on the field, should improve immensely in 2020.

The team also has a nice core in place. Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman were one of the best rookie combos in all of baseball in 2019. Mitch Keller flashed why he was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball and is ready to breakout in 2020. Joe Musgrove and Josh Bell each took another step for ward in 2019. Also, top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes should become the team’s starting third baseman at some point in 2020. Watching this group continue to grow together and watching other players, such as Kyle Crick, Michael Feliz and Cole Tucker, that have flashed at times the past season or two try and solidify themselves as part of the new core will add some intrigue to the 2020 season.

dark. Next. Free Agent CF Options

All of this should give Pirate fans hope. All of it should give fans optimism for the future. Once again the team has a strong front office, a good scouting department and MLB coaching staff, and Cherington has already started to restock the farm system via the Starling Marte trade.

The 2020 Pirates will likely take their lumps. Yes, this team has some good, exciting young players. But, ultimately, 2020 will be more about future seasons. That said, hope springs eternal this time of year. Fans should be excited to watch this team and watch its new leadership work to start turning the Pirates back into contenders. If nothing else, it’s baseball. It’s the American pastime. There is nothing else than spending summer nights at the ballpark with your friends and family, especially at the best ballpark in America – PNC Park. And those summer nights are almost here again.