The Pittsburgh Pirates have committed to a youth movement, but now what?
This was supposed to be a day that Pittsburgh Pirates fans have wanted and clamored for, but instead, three of their top prospects just fell into the ooze of mediocrity that the Pirates have become since the end of April.
Monday night was the major league debut of pitcher Quinn Priester, catcher Endy Rodriguez, and the season debut of infielder Liover Peguero. In reality, you could say it was Peguero's debut, too, because he had played one major league game before tonight, a 1-for-3 night at San Francisco.
What we got from these three was pretty much what we've seen the major league club do for three months. Exciting, huh?!
Priester started off in strong fashion by retiring the first nine batters he faced. From there, he was torched for seven runs on seven hits and two walks in the final two and one-third innings that he pitched. Two of the seven hits he allowed were home runs.
At the plate, Rodriguez and Peguero looked lost as Rodriguez struck out in three of his four plate appearances and Peguero struck out in two of his three.
But, why should this be surprising. These guys are fitting right in with the quality of play being put forth by the rest of the Pirates roster.
Striking out seems to be the theme of this team.
Collectively, the Pirates struck out another twelve times tonight. For the month of July, one in which the Pirates have a horrible record of 2-11, the Pirates have already struck out 111 times, which is an average of 8.5 strikeouts per game.
The topper in July was a 15-strikeout effort against Arizona on July 8.
From June 13 to the 30th, the Pirates struck out 156 times. In those 17 games, that averages out to be 9.1 times striking out per game.
In the stretch that they lost 12 of 13, they struck out 118 times for an average of another 9.1 per game. The topper was another 15-strikeout performance against Miami on June 22.
You get the point.
Despite the futility at the plate, one that Rodriguez and Peguero fell into nicely, the Pirates were only 16th in MLB in total strikeouts. It's an epidemic in MLB, but the Pirates seem to do it with much more panache.
Finding leaders in strikeouts since May 1st and leaders in strikeouts looking was much harder than expected. With the Pirates draining too much energy tonight, it was found futile to continue the search.
The question becomes what do we have to look forward to now that Rodriguez and Peguero settled in so quickly into Andy Haines' hitting philosophy?
Of course, we're talking about just one ball game and patience should be shown with those two.
The truth is that another baseball season has been lost. Contention has flown out the window on the air of the many whiffs that Haines' charges have created.
The right thing is to let the kids play and see what they can do. If the Pirates are going to lose, let them lose big while getting the kids experience.
Who knows? Maybe we'll get into the draft lottery and lightning will strike twice?
The point should be experience and development of the youngsters that are here. But, in reality, is this the coaching staff to do it?
What has Derek Shelton really done to earn a contract extension outside of one outlier month? Has the team improved much since he took over?
What about pitching coach Oscar Marin? The bullpen is in shambles now where it was a strength in the first two months of the season.
Is Marin really the man you trust to develop the career of Priester or, more importantly, Paul Skenes, assuming he signs. It's not guaranteed, you know.
What about Andy Haines? He failed twice as a hitting coach, but the Pirates snapped him up two years ago to be the man trusted to guide the young, talented hitters like Rodriguez and Peguero.
The stats above and any other stat that you can look up should be the simple answer to that question.
There's not much more Ben Cherington can do for the rest of the season.
Cherington appeased the fan base by calling up the kids, including three more tonight.
He drafted Paul Skenes.
What else is left?
No, the Pirates are not going to trade Andrew McCutchen. Cherington and Mr. Potter (Bob Nutting) know the PR hit they would take would be astronomical unless they got a huge return, which they would not.
We will wait to see if the Pirates can sign Skenes. Again, there's no guarantee.
We will watch to see if improvement is taking place at the major league level, but if the trend is continuing as it is, then we will watch to see in October, which of the three, if not all three, retain their jobs for 2024.
Actually, will YOU still be watching by then? Will anyone?