The Pirates Losing with These Players is An Injustice to the Fans



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I’m not typically on the side of rushing prospects to the big leagues.  In fact, I was firmly on the side of why waste any years of control for any Pittsburgh Pirate prospects in a season like this one.  A season known to expect very little success.  I was wrong.

If you are going to lose anyway, it is an injustice to the fans to lose with these particular players.  If you are going to lose anyway, find some things out about the players you have in your organization.  I even support playing guys like Michael Chavis, Ben Gamel, and Daniel Vogelbach to get a full view of what you have in players like them.  Hell, I don't even mind still seeing what you have in 24 year-old Bryse Wilson and 26 year-old Mitch Keller (although the straw that breaks the camel's back on Keller is not in good shape).

When I say “losing with these particular players”, I’m pointing at the ones who we know what they are, they’ve proven themselves to be unsuccessful, and they need to go.  I’m specifically pointing at JT Brubaker, Josh VanMeter, and Yoshi Tsutsugo.

I understand that I am not an expert in player development.  I am not even a novice in player development.  However, I am seeing other teams handle their prospects differently than the Pirates are. 

The Pirates were just no-hit by a 22 year-old rookie from the Cincinnati Reds given the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues.  The San Diego Padres were fine with 21-year old C.J. Abrams batting under the Mendoza line to let him debut with the Major League club to start the season.  Other teams have also let their youngsters cut their teeth at the big league level like Bobby Witt Jr., Alek Thomas, Spencer Torkelson, and Shane Baz.

Now, I’m not saying they have all been successful early.  In fact, Abrams has since been optioned back to AAA.  However, when it comes to observing what other teams are doing versus how the Pirates handle player development, I am not willing to just give the Pirates the benefit of the doubt.  If anything, their track record is much worse than many other teams in regards to player development.  Gregory Polanco, Mitch Keller, and Nick Kingham are more recent reflections of that, along with Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, and Kevin Kramer.

I think in the case of JT Brubaker, we have been fooled into the idea that we haven’t quite seen what he can do.  Like he has some sort of ceiling that we don’t know about.  I believe this has to do with Brubaker not debuting until the age of 26.  So while he is in just his 3rd major league season, he will still be 29 years old by season’s end.  At 28, he has a career 5.29 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.

Therefore, there is no reason Brubaker should be starting in place of Roansy Contreras.  Contreras has shown with his pitching in the major leagues so far that he is more than ready to take on a starting role with the Pirates.  He was productive in a relief role at the beginning of this season and is more than capable to bump that workload up a few innings. 

Also, if he struggles, that’s okay.  Young guys struggle when they first enter the league.  Most teams see it as a good thing for prospects to take their lumps and learn how to fail, but at least they’re learning at the highest level.  We know what we have in Brubaker, and it’s not worth a spot on the active roster.

Yoshi Tsutsugo is 30 years old and has a career batting average of .203 in the majors and is batting just .174 this season.  He has just three extra base hits this season.  With over 400 career at-bats, I think we know what we have with Yoshi and it's not good.

Josh VanMeter is a little younger than Tsutsugo at 27 years old, but he doesn't have a successful career in the Japanese league to hang his hat on like Yoshi does.  In fact, VanMeter's numbers in the majors are arguably even worse than Tsutsugo.  We also know based off of his 600+ at-bats, he is not a valuable asset to any team.

I was pressed recently on who I would prefer to be in the lineup instead of Tsutsugo and VanMeter.  Honestly, Google “Altoona Curve and Indianapolis Indians roster”, close your eyes, and point.  Seriously, I'm not trying to be facetious.   

Why are we so afraid to even attempt to find a diamond in the rough among even our lowest producing minor league hitters?   Is it because we may lose 100 games instead of 97?  Or we may take 5th in the division instead of 4th?  Who cares.  

In a season like this, where we are waiting for certain pieces to fall into place, there is legitimately zero consequence to giving anyone in your organization a shot over players proven poor track records.  And who knows, maybe a guy that isn’t on the Pirates Top 30 prospects list could actually make a difference at the major league level.  At least it’s better than watching these players that won’t be here in a season or two and we know exactly the types of players they are.  

If other teams want to claim any of the three listed above when they go out on waivers, their loss, not ours.  We cannot continue to lose while also finding very little out about what we have in the minor leagues.  If you’re going to lose, there are ways to lose smart, and the Pirates aren’t doing them.

Comments

  1. May I offer my congratulations on just how eloquently you zeroed in on the continuous mistakes the Pirates have made in the past and continue to make into the present by not allowing a number of their more talented, prospective players to be called up sooner and be evaluated more objectively. As I read this article, I was reminded how Reynolds made his way up from AAA. If it had not been for an accident that happened that season, he would still have been performing at Indianapolis. But when called up and given a chance to play, he proved that he was ready to play. Likewise, there are - as you mentioned - a number of possibilities now who could be ready to play at the major league level if only Pittsburgh would start thinking outside the box and use the "now is the time to find out" approach. Having had a chance to see a number of these top candidates play whenever they were at Greensboro and Altoona and now at Indianapolis, I feel exactly as you do. What do the Pirates have to lose by calling up some of these players now and seeing whether or not they can play at this level. However, the way the Pirates' mindset is now is one of a "lose - lose" situation: losing with a number of the players they are currently
    playing every day, and losing because they won't even try to call up some possible winners to see if this can upgrade their active roster and make headway from there.

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