The Pittsburgh Pirates Have Moves and Modifications To Make

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


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How many times have you been watching a Pittsburgh Pirates game this season and thought, "enough is enough"?  For me, it's been at least a dozen.  Probably more.

However, it's not about the losing of games.  I expected games to be lost at a high rate this season.  The Pirates just aren't that good of a team, and the pitching is living down to the expectations we all had.

When I say enough is enough, it's about certain players.  There are only so many chances a professional baseball player should get before they are deemed unfit for the pros or their role needs modified.  Plus, the Pirates are losing these games with these players, while not knowing what they have in the minor leagues.   Specifically, I'm talking about Cole Tucker, Josh VanMeter, Yoshi Tsutsugo, and Mitch Keller.

Designate for Assignment

Cole Tucker

Cole Tucker is the easy man to pick on, right?  The guy has a .175 batting average and a .403 OPS.  That's just on the 2022 season.  His career stats are not much better. 

Beyond simply the statistical aspects, visually he looks lost at the plate.  He had an at-bat in the 8th inning of Sunday's game where he struck out on three straight pitches, and didn't look particularly close to hitting any of them.  

The time to replace Tucker on the roster is long passed and overdue.  At this point, you're not losing anything by DFA'ing him.  And honestly, I'd expect him to clear without any claims from other teams.

Josh VanMeter

Josh VanMeter is nearly as bad as Tucker statistically.  And with VanMeter having much more of a track record to pull from, it's arguable that he is even worse.  We know the ceiling for VanMeter, while there is still hope for Tucker's to be higher.  

At this point in the season, the only thing VanMeter has done positively for the Pirates is serve as their emergency catcher in a game we ended up losing 9-2.  Thanks for stepping up Josh, but otherwise what are you doing here?  There'd be no production lost if he was DFA'ed.

The corresponding moves to both of these DFA's should be promoting Rodolfo Castro and Oneil Cruz.  Castro has had a cup of coffee in the big leagues and deserve another chance to show what he can do.  Cruz was having a great Spring Training before being sent down to the minor leagues to start the season.  

I was originally supportive of the move and didn't quite see why wasting a year of Cruz in a season like this made sense.  However, now it appears he is pushing too hard in the minor leagues and getting him up in the big leagues would do him better than anything going on in the minors.  Bring up Castro and Cruz, and DFA Tucker and VanMeter.

Modified Roles

Yoshi Tsutsugo

Another bat who I don't necessarily want to see sent to the garbage heap, like I do Tucker or VanMeter, is Yoshi Tsutsugo's.  While Tsutsugo still has shown he has power to offer this Pirates lineup, it's not happening so far this season.  Until he does find that power swing, he has to be moved out of the meat of the order.  

I believe the same argument for having Daniel Vogelbach bat lead off is the same argument that could be made for batting Yoshi second.  Yoshi's patience at the plate so far this season has been very impressive.  He has walked more than anyone else on the team, and has a .307 OBP.  

Unfortunately, he also only has a .546 OPS and just two extra base hits in 2022 thus far.  However, if you can have a guy with a high walk rate batting near the top of your order while also possessing the potential to hit one out of the park, like Vogelbach, it's a nice asset to have.  

Then, if Yoshi does find some of his end of 2021 form, you move him back into a 3-4-5 spot.  However, until that happens he should be either second or seventh of this batting order against right-handed pitchers, and benched against lefties.

Mitch Keller

I'm not sure why Mitch Keller is seemingly the only starting pitcher who has earned his right to being a Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher.  Seemingly, the Pirates will try anyone out of the bullpen including once starters Dillon Peters, Wil Crowe, and Miguel Yajure, while also at points bumping this season's starter to the 'pen like Bryse Wilson and Zach Thompson.

However, not Mitch Keller.  Apparently Keller is above this.  With his 6.04 ERA and his 2022 ERA of 6.11, apparently Mitch Keller is above losing his spot in the rotation.  

The Pirates should keep Max Kranick up and promote Roansy Contreras.  No Pirates starter this season, aside from Jose Quintana, has proven they deserve a spot in the rotation.  Plus, it'd be nice to see if Keller could find success in the bullpen like Crowe and Peters have to this point in 2022.  There is no value in keeping Keller in the rotation at this point and not seeing what you have in your young pitchers.  Move Keller to the bullpen and see if you find more lightning in a bottle.

Conclusion

The Pittsburgh Pirates should make these roster moves and role changes.  After losing 2 of 3 to the Cincinnati Reds, it certainly couldn't get any worse.  

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