General observations around the Pittsburgh Pirates as the 2023 season begins to wind down
With just over two weeks left in the Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 season, there's not a lot left to decipher as we, most likely, are headed toward watching another losing season go past us like Christian McCaffrey zipped past the Steelers Sunday afternoon. Too soon?
Anyway, here are some bullet point observations for you to peruse devoid of much analysis, especially considering there's not much left to play for, but we can be entertained, nonetheless:
* Is anyone regretting the Pirates signing Bryan Reynolds to a long-term extension? It's comforting to know that the left-field position in the Pirates' lineup is going to be filled by the same outstanding player for many years to come, giving Derek Shelton one less thing to think about.
* It would seem that another position that Derek Shelton doesn't have to worry about filling in for years to come is shortstop. It's just a shame that we only got to see nine games worth of Oneil Cruz in 2023.
* So, it appears that batting coach Andy Haines is going to be retained for the 2024 season. After watching his charges flail helplessly to 13 strikeouts, a common pattern throughout his tenure, Pirates' fans continue to ask the question: WHY??????
* Who has created more angst with their feeble offensive results? Andy Haines or Matt Canada? Probably Canada because more people honestly follow the Steelers, but the scrutiny is equal amongst these offensive "leaders".
* After struggling for a few weeks following the All-Star Break, Mitch Keller is the unquestioned ace of the pitching staff. Other than Johan Oviedo, despite his last 2 outings, is there anyone you can think of who has comfortably earned a spot in the Pirates rotation in 2024?
* Speaking of Keller, can anyone think of a good reason he was yanked in the ninth inning today despite giving up only two hits and throwing 92 pitches? Does Derek Shelton think there's still a chance the Pirates have a wild card chance and needs to save Keller for the playoffs?
* Today's outing notwithstanding, do you feel more or less comfortable with David Bednar as the closer going forward? How much sense did it make to yank Keller and put in Bednar the day after a night game having thrown 30 pitches the night before, struggling through it no less, plus having the New York Yankees coming in for three starting tomorrow?
* Going back to the rotation, comment below as to who we currently have on the 40-man roster or in the minors that YOU feel comfortable with filling a spot in the rotation for 2024. Personally, those names are few and far between at the moment.
* Yes, they're young, but how many of the pitchers under contract for 2024 are trustworthy enough to be part of the Pirates' rotation IF the front office is serious about contention?
* When will Paul Skenes make it to Pittsburgh? Will it, in fact, be 2024? Do you trust pitching coach Oscar Marin with his future?
* One would think that one of the rotation spots will be filled with a Rich Hill- type free agent if the front office doesn't trust the current crop of prospects. Hopefully, that somebody won't be over 40 years old.
* Another source of finding a rotation filler should be the trade route. What do we have a gluttony of wealth? Middle infielders!
* The question becomes which of the talented middle infielders would you give up in order to secure a reliable starter? Termarr Johnson? Liover Peguero? Tucapita Marcano? Nick Gonzales? Ji-Hwan Bae? The list could go on for a while.
* Speaking of Bae, with his speed and experience, wouldn't it make more sense to use the off-season to train him to be the full-time center fielder? He's made a lot of good plays out there, but also a lot of mistakes that come from inexperience.
* Send Bae to the Arizona Fall League or get him in camp early and take away his infielders glove and train him exclusively in center. Can you imagine how many deep balls he can run down with his speed and the ground he can cover?
* While he's there, somebody teach him to GET ON BASE as a leadoff hitter instead of striking out so often. BUNT MORE if he has to!
* Do you want to see Henry Davis back for the last 15 games or get shut down like Cruz and just reset him for 2024? Will we see him catch in 2024 or ever?
* Maybe with his arm, the same development for Bae in center field can be used for Davis in right-field? Just spitballing!
* If that does happen, what of Jack Suwinski? Could he be the answer at first base? He's a decent outfielder, but Davis has the better arm. Just spitballing, again!
* Speaking of first base, Jared Triolo is not the answer even though he's one of the best defenders in the system. He just doesn't have the bat necessary for a position designed to house more power-hitting types.
* Would bringing back Carlos Santana makes sense to fill the gaping hole at first base? He still hits well and has a surprisingly good glove, but most importantly, Santana was a great leader and a tremendous influence over the large number of young, Hispanic players on the roster.
* The Pirates have to finish 12-3 in order to have a winning season. With the Yankees, Phillies, and Cubs on the schedule, it isn't going to happen, especially with the horrendous luck the Pirates have had against Chicago this year.
* Not that it matters in reality, but the Pirates are only 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card race. That's closer than the Red Sox or Yankees are in the American League race, but, of course, the American League has a larger amount of strong teams than the National League, by far.
* Is there a National League team that can truly defeat an American League team in the World Series?
* The only two that personally come to mind are Atlanta and Los Angeles, but do either of them have the pitching to go up against Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Seattle, Houston, Texas, or Minnesota?
* Pittsburgh Penguins training camp opens a week from tomorrow, the 22nd.
* Pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton in less than five months. The first game is February 24th against the Minnesota Twins.
* See, we do have something to look forward to!