Fog, mist, and rain filled the Pittsburgh air Monday morning as the full Halloween atmosphere is fully upon us.
On a day when ghosts and ghouls are highlighted more than any other time, a scary environment sweeps through the day’s landscape.
Halloween is meant to invoke fear, deliver tasteful treats, dress up as something or someone you’re not and find out what you’re afraid of.
This might be a yearly occasion in August, September and all of October for some Pittsburgh Pirates fans, not just every Oct. 31.
Here are three things that should scare Pirates fans this Halloween.
You get what you pay for
Whether it’s a shiny costume, extravagant decorations or high-valued players, sometimes you need to pay up to stand out and make a difference.
The final four teams in the 2022 postseason all ranked in the top eight in payroll. The New York Yankees (third), Philadelphia Phillies (fourth), San Diego Padres (fifth), and Houston Astros (eighth) all spent over $180 million on their constructed clubs. The Yankees, Phillies, and Padres all spent over $200 million and increased their spending through trades and other acquisitions following Opening Day.
Pittsburgh ranked 28th out of 30 teams at $66 million to close the year. The team began the season just over $37 million, according to Boardroom, a decrease of over 30 percent from 2021.
The Cleveland Guardians did buck the trend and lurk like a ghost in the night against the Yankees, being in prime position to advance to the ALCS before the Yankees erased a 2-1 series deficit. As more high-level prospects emerge from the minor leagues, the calls will come more frequently to put pieces around them. There will be no excuse for talent acquisition if the Bucs' young players turn the team around. $200 million is unrealistic, but back to $100 million is a good place to start.
Ke’Bryan Hayes’ scary 2022 offensively
I’m not sure if the ghost of Josh Van Meter entered Ke’Bryan Hayes for the entire season or if the back injury hampered him significantly more than publicly stated. Rewarded with the largest contract ever allotted to a Pirates player - $70 million for team control through the decade - Hayes failed to produce at the plate.
Hayes did lead all third basemen totaling 24 defensive runs saved but hit the opposite of the standard for a corner infielder. In 135 games, he slashed .245/.316/.347 and contributed 24 doubles, 7 home runs, and 41 batted in.
20 stolen bases were a valuable part of Hayes’ game when reaching base. The offense needs to improve. Driving the ball and hitting for power at a premium position is a necessity for Hayes to stick at third and produce in the box less like a middle infielder. Pirates fans should feel the shiver in the night of the goblins Hayes has chased at the plate, looking to strike back and flip the switch to turn the lights back on from his debut season.
Belief in Shelton?
Is Derek Shelton a walking zombie? Let me rephrase, is he living in the manager’s shoes but a human skeleton? The point is, will Derek Shelton be the manager following 2023?
Shelton has one year remaining on his four-year contract signed prior to 2020. He has managed through a pandemic that practically knocked out the season, only playing 60 games. 2021 was the first true year to judge him, losing 101 games in the process. 2022 was no better, improving by one game for a second-straight 100-loss campaign.
The former Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach and Minnesota Twins bench coach needs a few bags of Snickers and M&M’s to make his Halloween a pleasant experience. Known as a manager the club enjoys playing for, Shelton will be tested next season.
He will, likely, have his best team as a Pirates skipper next year. Part of it is the notion that how things could be worse than 100 losses, but stocked with All-Stars Bryan Reynolds, David Bednar, a Gold Glove candidate every year in Hayes, and rookies Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras for a full season, Shelton needs to show growth.
There are other aspects that scare Pirates fans. These three will keep even casual fans up at night.