This afternoon, you might have heard John Fedko from TribLIVE Radio in the midst of an entertaining rant about how Tyler Glasnow should start the season in the big leagues. It's all about money, Fedko says, and Glasnow only pitched one inning in Spring Training because the Pirates didn't want their fans to get angry when Glasnow continued to pitch well and the Pirates sent him down anyway.
I'm not sure we're supposed to take any of this seriously ("You guys know I'm a baseball expert," Fedko says at one point. "I should be the GM of the Pirates"), and there's little chance of any serious fan doing so. But just in case someone at your water cooler thinks the Pirates actually should promote Tyler Glasnow straight to the majors, you can just send them a link to this article (which is really just a variation on an article I write almost every March) and stop wasting your time. You might get better results with this than with the ultra-glib response I posted initially.
And hey, maybe the idea that the Pirates should promote Glasnow all the way from Class A+ to the big leagues isn't one that should be dismissed out of hand. As Baseball America's Ben Badler pointed out earlier today, the Marlins did just that with Jose Fernandez, and that worked out brilliantly until Fernandez's elbow went kaput.
But such aggressive promotions are exceedingly rare, and for good reason. Just ask Jeremy Bonderman, who went straight to the big leagues from Class A+ in 2003 and whose big-league career took several years to get rolling as a result. Or Aramis Ramirez, who went straight from Class A+ to the big leagues and didn't do anything whatsoever in his first three years in the big leagues. Or Jose Guillen, who also went straight from Class A+ to the big leagues and whose career didn't get going until years after he left the Pirates.
One might make an exception if Glasnow were a reliever. A reliever's job is relatively easy compared to those of most other baseball players, and doesn't require much refinement. That's one reason the Pirates promoted John Holdzkom to the big leagues last year despite minimal experience in the high minors.
Even then, though, Holdzkom was 26 and had years of professional experience. And the Pirates want Glasnow to be a starter. That means refining his secondary pitches, for example. He might not need a good changeup to pitch a scoreless inning in Spring Training. But that would help if he needed to get through six innings against big-league hitters. Shelby Miller, for example, is an electric young arm who's run into problems lately because he doesn't really have a changeup. Glasnow also still could tune up his control. I'm sure he'll be successful at Altoona, but he's not a finished product. And if he is, let him prove it there and at Indianapolis before speculatively promoting him and burning through his service time while he learns at the big-league level how to pitch. The Pirates are only guaranteed six-plus years of control of Glasnow. I'd rather they be good ones.
Also, perhaps we should consider that the Pirates know better than radio hosts or any of us how best to develop pitchers. They've turned around the careers of Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Vance Worley, Holdzkom and others. They know what they're doing. And if they think the best route for Glasnow is to start the season in the minors, they're probably right, even before considering all the common-sense reasons that's the case.