So much for a new way of doing business.
Last year’s trade deadline saw a bold move by Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington when he mortgaged part of the organization’s future for a run at the NL Central.
While the trade that sent Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz (Gerrit Cole’s doppelganger) to Tampa Bay for Chris Archer has been an unmitigated bust, the trade itself seemed to signal a new operating paradigm for the Pirates – focus on winning and adding the pieces to do so sooner than later.
Yeah – go ahead and scrap that idea – the Pirates are a team without an identity.
Last year’s team played well enough out of the All-Star break to convince Huntington that the team had realistic postseason aspirations, so the Buccos did what real contenders do and went for it. They badly misjudged Archer’s impact, but at least had the sand to make a bold move.
A year removed, this year’s iteration has tanked leading up to yesterday’s trade deadline. This left the Pirates as obvious sellers, but with a golden opportunity to trade some players who could really help legitimate contenders and rebuild the organization’s stable of prospects who might help the Pirates become a contender themselves in the near future.
Another swing and a miss by Huntington.
I have been a defender of Neal Huntington because I feel ownership and its desire for profits over winning hamstrings the GM, but whatever stopped him from dealing Felipe Vasquez, Starling Marte, Keone Kela, Melky Cabrera, Jung Ho Kang and Archer for, in the cases of Marte, Kela and especially Vasquez, another organization’s top prospects, and, in the cases of Cabrera, Kang and Archer, anything that fogs a mirror, is mind boggling.
Instead, the Pirates are going to carry dead weight and receive nothing in return. I get not underselling Vasquez, but I have a hard time believing at least one of the top contenders for a World Series in 2019 would not have parted with prospects that would have improved the Pirates’ dismal corps of young players.
So, instead of looking forward to players who might someday help the Pirates win, we get to watch Vasquez close out meaningless wins, Marte go through spells of hot and cold for who knows how much longer, and the Pirates try to meander their way to .500 without a real Major League catcher.
Huntington is squarely to blame for this. He is trusting a core of players who have proven they cannot get the Pirates over the hump and may have set the organization back another three or four years because he stood pat when he should have pushed all-in and committed to a rebuild.
It’s not like the Pirates are going to be active in free agency, raise the payroll to a $125 million and bring in players who will upgrade the Major League roster in 2020. The opportunity to be bold did not pass up Huntington last year – and it’s too bad it did not work out – but Huntington’s reticence to act this year may end up a far more damaging play by a GM without an identity leading a baseball team without an identity.
- Speaking of identities, is it possible that Kela’s is certifiably insane? He has great stuff, but that does not excuse his well documented history of instability on and off the field. Kela’s recent stroll through crazytown saw him throw at a player’s head over something that was settled months ago when Kela was in the injured list, and then defend his indefensible action by claiming he was protecting his teammates. Uhm – from what? Why Kela continues to wear a Pirates uniform is a disgraceful curiosity.
- The early word out of Latrobe is actually two (or three) that Steelers fans may want to remember – Bennie and Snell and Junior. The rookie out of Kentucky has opened eyes with his hard-nosed style, and may just emerge as an impactful rookie. Of course, all of what’s happening right now in training camp has to be tempered until the Steelers begin hitting, and being hit by, players in other uniforms, but Snell has certainly earned the right to be seen earlier than the fourth quarter of preseason games.