Fan Frustration Over Oneil Cruz Decision is Misplaced

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

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The initial reaction to Pittsburgh Pirates prospect, Oneil Cruz, being sent down to the minors yesterday was warranted.  Most fans were upset, outraged, confused, all justifiable reactions.  Fans also immediately began to jump on the lazy, cliche arguments like "this is the Pirates being cheap" or "Why is anyone surprised?  It's Bob Nutting and the Pirates."

While I do believe the emotional reactions are warranted, and there is no reason to give the Pirates the benefit of the doubt, the frustrations with this situation are misplaced.  This is neither a Pirates thing, nor a Pirates being cheap thing.  This is a Major League Baseball thing, and it was supposed to be fixed.

However, instead of the Player's Union fighting for actual issues in the most recent CBA negotiations, they fought for the Los Angeles Dodgers to spend more money.  What they should have fought for is limiting the clubs' abilities to manipulate service time, among other things.

While there were some minor changes made, it wasn't enough to avoid situations like the one with Oneil Cruz and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  But Cruz is just one of many.  We have seen this done with higher profile prospects in larger market organizations like Bryce Harper with the Washington Nationals and Kris Bryant with the Chicago Cubs.  It is neither a small market issue, nor a money issue, it is a Major League Baseball issue.

The problem is, this is the Pirates, right?  They're haggling with star outfielder Bryan Reynolds over $600k, they never sign anyone long-term nor sign unrestricted free agents, and they always do the cheap thing.  I can't argue with that.  However, in this particular situation that really isn't the case.

In fact, from what I have seen on social media, most of you should agree with this move.  From what I can tell, many of you think the Pirates will be terrible for another 2, 3, even 4 more seasons, so why waste any of Cruz's years of control in these down years?  I personally think the Pirates will be competitive in '23 and '24, but that certainly doesn't seem like the sentiment among the fans on social media.

You cannot argue the Pirates will have nothing to play for this season while also arguing that Cruz should be in the major leagues on Opening Day.  Wasting one of Cruz's major league years of control is counterintuitive if you believe the Pirates will not compete this season.  Additionally, this isn't just a Pirates or a Bob Nutting thing.  It's a problem that had the opportunity to be fixed and it wasn't.  Baseball doing baseball things.  Surprise, surprise.