Contreras and De Los Santos Are a Start, but There Are More Moves to Be Made

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After another embarrassing blowout loss on Sunday morning in a baseball game that started just after 11:30 a.m., the Pittsburgh Pirates record now stands at 16-24. Furthermore, their -88 run differential is the worst in the league…by 24 runs.

The next highest team, the Cincinnati Reds, sit at a -64 run differential but only sit four games back of the Pirates in the National League Central. These are the same Reds that had won just three of their first 28 games. The same Reds that called up Hunter Greene and watched him throw eight no-hit innings against the Pirates just to lose, which further emphasizes the point I’m going to make here shortly.

Greene is a 22-year old who has dominated the minors and was granted the opportunity to come up and take his licks with the major league club that is essentially waving the white flag less than two months into the season. Sure, the Reds are not going to roll over and they’re going to fight to try and win as many baseball games as possible. But they know they’re not a good ball club and their ownership group has admitted as much, going as far as saying “what else are they going to do?” when asked how fans should respond to their stripping of all major league talent.

Bob Nutting isn’t a great baseball owner but he’s doing an awesome job of maintaining his bottom line and keeping his club profitable despite the on-field product. Even he isn’t stupid enough to insult the Pirates’ fan base to their collective face. Maybe the roster construction is his way of doing that. But he’d never actually come out and make such a statement about the fan base.

However, I digress. Let’s get back to the Reds’ on-field performance and Hunter Greene.

The Reds are bad and they know it. However, instead of running out a lineup full of Never Was’, they’re allowing a guy like Greene to play a role on this team and gain valuable experience for when he’s pitching in meaningful games for the Reds.

Conversely, in Pittsburgh, the Pirates continue to run Josh VanMeter and Yoshi Tsutsugo out onto the field on a nightly basis. What for, exactly? No one is quite sure.

There is a difference in having good veteran players on your team and guys who might be better served blogging about the Pirates like I am right now.

Ben Gamel and Daniel Vogelbach are two veterans who’ve had success in the big leagues and certainly deserve to use the Pirates as a springboard for an opportunity on a team that actually is trying to get to the playoffs, whether that be at the trade deadline or in free agency the next year. Michael Chavis is still relatively young but even he fits into that category as a guy the Pirates should be playing nightly.

I know the Pirates are going to be bad for a little while longer yet before any of these prospects see meaningful time in Pittsburgh. We’ve all known this. But that doesn’t mean the organization should just run out a product that people don’t want to watch whatsoever.

I’ve endured my fair share of pain with the Pirates. We all have. And this is the first time in a long time that I legitimately find it hard to sit through an entire nine innings of Pirates baseball unless I’m within the confines of PNC Park. There’s not much interesting about them.

Roansy Contreras and Yerry De Los Santos are going to be joining the Pirates this week. That’s exciting. I hope that this car ride from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh is the last one they’ll take in their careers. They should be in Pittsburgh to stay.

Contreras will join a pitching staff with the following ERA’s: Jose Quintana (2.43), Zach Thompson (4.88), J.T. Brubaker (5.50), Mitch Keller (6.37), and Bryse Wilson (7.53).

Obviously, Quintana is having a wonderful start to the year. But he was always going to be a hope-and-pray-we-can-flip-him-at-the-deadline piece. Thompson has been pretty good outside of two starts. Otherwise, the other three probably don’t deserve to stay in the rotation long-term. Contreras can overtake anyone with Wilson, who has admitted he prefers being in the bullpen at the moment yet is still pushed out by Derek Shelton every fifth day, being the leading candidate.

De Los Santos will join a bullpen that boasts three pitchers who are performing well. David Bednar is the obvious one who’s been lights out this season with a 0.87 ERA in 20.2 innings. The other two are Wil Crowe and Dillon Peters, two guys who haven’t quite been able to hack it as starting pitchers. De Los Santos will be a welcomed addition who can hopefully be a trusted late inning arm.  This move will hopefully knock someone like Heath Hembree on to the street and blogging about the Pirates with the likes of VanMeter, Tsutsugo, and myself.

But the infusion shouldn’t stop there.

Mason Martin is raking in the minors. Maybe he comes up and strikes out at a 30% rate but he would add pop to a Pirates lineup that has 32 home runs in 40 games, good for 23rd in the league. Many people were very quick to run Pedro Alvarez out of town but wouldn’t we all sign up for Pedro Alvarez-like offensive production for this very team right now?

Oneil Cruz hit another homerun Sunday. His AAA numbers don’t pop off the page but he’s proven he can hit at every level of the minors. He even had an awesome cup of coffee in that final series last season. So let him take his hacks up here. 

Instead of bringing Kevin Newman back once his rehab assignment is over, DFA him and give him a chance for a fresh start elsewhere. There are a handful of young middle infielders in the organization who, at the very least, deserve a chance to play more frequently.

Do some research. You’ll find more intriguing names that probably deserve to be getting some major league at-bats right now over these “veterans” that have no value to the team other than boosting the Pirates’ draft stock for next season.