Pirate Fans: The Team is Better, But We’re Still Not “Good”

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When it comes to Pittsburgh Pirate fans I feel like I'm always somewhere in the middle.  Not when it comes to passion for the team.  I mean I've been a season ticket holder for almost 20 years now, and my summer mood swings are caused by the Bucs.  What I mean is that I am never the "everybody sucks, the sky is falling, and we'll be terrible forever" guy, but I'm also not the "Oneil Cruz is going to hit 400 homeruns and we will win 90 games this season" guy.  Like I said, I'm somewhere in the middle.

So while I am very encouraged by the development of our youngsters and the signings made this offseason, especially the Andrew McCutchen signing, I feel like I have to slow everybody down.  See, Pirate fans always feel disrespected by national media.  Whether it's rightfully so or not, the national media does not treat the Pirates very kindly.  Outside of Oneil Cruz, the national media treats the Pirates as the butt of many jokes.  

So, naturally, Pirate fans try to defend themselves.  Because the team is getting better.    The team on Opening Day 2023 will definitely be better than the 2022 Opening Day roster.  That is without a doubt. 

Every signing they have made proves that.  A Ji-man Choi and Carlos Santana platoon is much better than a Yoshi Tsutsugo and Michael Chavis platoon.  Andrew McCutchen is better in left field than Ben Gamel.  Oneil Cruz and Rodolfo Castro up the middle are much better, and one million times more exciting, than Kevin Newman and Josh VanMeter.  They have also added to the starting pitching staff.

However, I think where I am starting to disagree with Pirate fans, at least some of the crazies on social media, is labeling the team as "good".  For all intents and purposes they're not good...yet. But I guess it all depends on how you define it.  If good is winning 10 to 12 more games than the season before, than sure the Pirates could be good.  I think they are a 10-win better team than they were last season.

To me, though, good means you play a factor in the playoff race.  Whether it be actually securing a spot in the postseason, or fighting for one, you must be factor in the playoff race at the end of the season to be good.  

And unfortunately 72 to 74 wins isn't enough to put you in that conversation.  That would be 10 to 12 more wins than the Pirates 62 in 2022.  And I think it's 10 more wins at best because of the Pirates bullpen.  They have done nothing to address how bad the bullpen was last year and how bad it could be this year.  And leads in the 5th or 6th inning that are blown by the bullpen do not count as wins in the standings.

Also, the Pirates are still doing the bare minimum to get better.  There were and are still free agents that would make the team instantly and significantly better.  Outside of Andrew McCutchen, they're not making these signings.  The signings that get national attention.  The front office is doing just enough to look like they're spending money.  And don't let them fool you.  They could be spending more.

So maybe give the national media a break for still continuing to see the Pirates as a non-competitive team.  Because for the intents and purposes they're speaking of, they're not competitive.  Not yet. 

I agree that the team continues to get better, and it feels like it has every week this offseason.  That could continue with a few good Spring Training games from our youngsters.  However, we're still not what I would consider "Good".