In our daily Wake-Up Call, we get you ready for the day with a complete look at all things Pittsburgh Pirates.
I am not normally one for hyperbole but I can say with very little irony, that the series the Pittsburgh Pirates played against the Los Angeles Dodgers was one of the worst in many, many years.
The Pirates didn’t hit well, pitch well, play good defense, or really show much effort at all. The Pirates did save their best for last in game three as they only lost by two runs. So if you’re an optimistic person, you can focus on that. However, it was still another poor performance as the Pirates looked completely overmatched against a vastly superior Dodgers club.
This series may end up proving to be the death blow in any chances the Pirates had in getting back to relevancy this season. The team leaves Los Angeles six games under .500 and they don’t seem to be poised to climb much higher in the standings. I have always prided myself on my positivity but I am not a complete fool. I know a mediocre at-best ball club when I see one and the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates are simply put, not good enough.
Pundits will point at the Pirates lower than average payroll and to be honest that is a tired cop out. The Pirates COULD absolutely spend more money but that is not the main reason for their recent mediocrity. The reason the Pirates have failed the last few seasons is because their scouting and development has been atrocious.
People will point out that the Milwaukee Brewers spent a little money this offseason but despite that their payroll is below the Pittsburgh Pirates. Why then is Milwaukee battling for first place while the Pirates sink to lower depths of mediocrity? It isn’t just because the Brewers made a couple splash signings this past offseason, it’s because the Brewers scouted and developed players better than the Pirates. When the Brewers saw their young players were ready for the big time, they added a couple big pieces because they knew their payroll would be low enough from all the entry-level rookie deals.
The Pirates actually tried a similar approach since they did pay David Freese, Francisco Cervelli, and Josh Harrison a fair amount of money but outside of Cervelli, those deals have not been spectacular. Spending money is great but you need to spend it well. The Pirates perceived cheapness is simply a byproduct of poor resource allocation.
The Pirates have put money into the on-field product, they just haven’t gotten the results they were expecting. When you sign veteran pieces that either can’t stay healthy or are simply bench options at best, you look foolish. When those moves prevent you from further spending on your Big League roster, you look cheap. The Pirates payroll is a symptom of a greater sickness. The 2016, 2017, and 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates were poorly constructed and that starts way at the top with their drafting and developing.
Small market teams make their money by making smart draft picks so they can constantly replenish the Big League roster when the players get too expensive. However, the Pirates do not seem to have a homegrown impact hitter or pitcher on their roster. They have a plethora of okay and passable, which is not going to help you make the playoffs any time soon.
I’ve always defended Neal Huntington because I do believe is a capable General Manager but his scouting department has failed over and over again. It is time to address the elephant in the room and that is Neal Huntington cannot draft well. It’s something I have tried to deny for years but I was wrong. Huntington has yet to produce a truly impact hitter or pitcher in over a decade of drafting. I am not sure what the solution is but if the Pirates finish the job and have a third straight losing season, it may be time to tear it all down and start over with a new management team.