With the dawn of the New Year and spring training already fast approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to at least begin a list of New Years’ Resolutions for the Pittsburgh Pirates this upcoming season. The frustration that seemed to define the 2019 season cannot continue to hang over the heads of the players, coaches, and new management headed into the new year.
While the new regime under team president Travis Williams and general manager Ben Cherington has done a fine job thus far revamping for the coming years in terms of coaching hires and cultural changes, there are several things the organization as a whole needs to do better this year in order to come closer to fielding a successful team both on and off the field.
Here is my short list of Pirates’ New Years’ Resolutions. Feel free to add some of your own in the comments:
- Be More Forthcoming with the Fan Base
For anyone who has been a fan of the Pirates throughout former GM Neal Huntington’s tenure, you know that this is a tall order. Cloaking the team and it’s goals in mystery was Huntington’s M.O., be it for some sort of competitive advantage or to mask the fact that he lacked a coherent retooling plan from 2015 onward.
Cherington has not gone so far as to announce to fans what his intentions are with the team in 2020, but he has provided a transparency that was sorely lacking in years past; he made it known that the team was looking for catchers, specifically in terms of implementing a tandem system, was forthcoming about center-fielder Starling Marte’s trade availability, and made sure to make it clear that this team is more than “one or two good players” from being a contender.
That’s a starting point for this resolution, but if Cherington hopes to win back the city’s trust that the organization is in capable hands, he’ll need to continue to build on that transparency.
2. Repair the Clubhouse Culture
In his initial press conference and conversation with starting pitcher Joe Musgrove, new manager Derek Shelton made it clear that he is fully invested in bringing about a culture change in the Bucco clubhouse. Riddled with fights and tension for much of 2019, Shelton must bring a more involved, leadership-oriented approach to a young squad with no clear identity nor player-leader (aside from perhaps Musgrove).
Former manager Clint Hurdle provided an old-school message to a team that needed more guidance and perhaps more heavy-handed leadership as opposed to willful tolerance. Shelton must be careful to bring the right amount of passion and desire to win along with an understanding the youth of this squad in order to save the clubhouse from the nightmare that was 2019.
3. Win Trades, Fleece Other Organizations, and Sign True Talent
Looking back again at the front office, there’s an apparent need to reverse the record of Huntington’s recent shortcomings on the trade market in order to rebuild/retool/revamp in an efficient manner. This resolution is pretty “duh”; why would you want to lose trades or miscalculate free-agent signings? It’s not so much about losing these front office moves as it is in making sure you do them in a smarter capacity.
Cherington must be better at risk allocation; he has to take chances in the right areas and take a more conservative approach in others to fix both the Pirates’ major league roster as well as the farm system. The days of the Archer trade and the Ryan Vogelsong signing must come to an end.