IAPF’s 2022 Season Review: Embrace the Suck.

I predicted a 71-91 season for this band of misfits pretending to be a major league baseball team. They just couldn’t pitch well, but they made up for it by not hitting well. O’Neil Cruz, Rodolfo Castro and Jack Suwinski were the bright spots this year. Johan Oviedo and Luis Ortiz look like interesting young starters. But the bullpen was a disaster, the manager did more mismanaging than managing and guys like Josh VanMeter and Yoshi Tsutsugo got entirely too much playing time.

Catcher: Early on the Pirates had Roberto Perez and Andrew Knapp. Perez actually was pretty decent early on but only lasted until May 7th when an injury ended his season. Andrew Knapp was terrible. Michael Perez came back and was terrible. Eventually the Pirates settled on Tyler Heineman and Jason Delay. Neither are good as they both are hitting in the low .200’s. Hopefully Henry Davis fixes this someday soon. This was worse than the 2011 catcherpocalypse. Grade: D-

1B: The season started with Yoshi here. When it was clear that his 2021 stint was all a fluke, they went with Michael Chavis most of the time. Now with both of them gone they are kicking the tires on Miguel Andujar. It seems like since Willie Stargell retired 40 years ago, they don’t really know what to do with 1B, got some good years out of Jason Thompson, Kevin Young and Adam LaRoche but otherwise they just don’t know what to do here. Always passing up guys in the draft like Pujols, Berkman, Bagwell, Alonso, Goldschmidt and others for pipe dreams like Will Craig and Alex Dickerson. Grade: D-

2B: The season started with Hoy Park here. As the months went by it seemed like Josh VanMeter and Yu Chang got entirely too many starts here. With injuries, the Pirates had to call up Rodolfo Castro and he was better than them. When O’Neil Cruz took over at SS, they moved Kevin Newman to 2B, but I’d rather see what Castro and Bae can do instead so I think Newman’s a goner. Grade: C

SS: O’Neil Cruz was genuinely fun to watch this year, especially when he went up to bat. Yeah he struggled sometimes but that’s what it takes to become a major league ball player. He is getting experience and that is fun to watch when you got a young talent like him. Grade: B+

3B: Ke’Bryan Hayes had a below average year with the bat, I’d like to think it’s just him having a lot of injuries and never getting a good rhythm going but its starting to get concerning. On the other hand, he’s a gold glove caliber 3B who gets most of this value from his play at 3B. Just don’t reach for sunflower seeds while a play is going on. It upsets the angry Yinzer fan base. Grade: B+

OF: Bryan Reynolds didn’t get traded probably because he didn’t have that great of a season. He wasn’t nearly as good as his 2019 and 2021 seasons. But still the best OF we got. Ben Gamel was ok. I mean, he wasn’t great but he wasn’t embarrassingly bad. Jack Suwinski was the most interesting OF in that he has ridiculous home/road splits. He looks like a superstar in home games while looking like he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat on the road. Otherwise, they sent out dudes like Greg Allen and Anthony Alford and Jake Marisnick, none of whom were very good. Maybe someday Endy Rodriguez and Termarr Johnson can fix this mess. Grade: D+

DH: Vogelbach hit his homeruns like he bought donuts, in bunches. If anyone could put on street clothes and fit in at a tailgate, it was him and I was sad to see my favorite donut eating baseball player go. They should bring him back and sign him to a 15 year contract. Grade: C

SP: Mitch Keller and Roansy Contreras would be a good rotation, if only the Pirates didn’t need three other starters. Keller lost 12 games but clearly has improved this year. Contreras was good but due to some service time manipulation spent entirely too long in the minors. A lot of people probably predicted that Jose Quintana would pitch his way out of Pittsburgh, few probably would have guessed it was that he would end up a trade deadline chip. Brubaker, Wilson and Thompson were awful. Johan Oviedo looks like a good return for the Quintana trade and Luis Ortiz has potential. The rotation looks more interesting today than on April 6. Grade: D+

RP: The victims of overuse and abuse by the manager started strong but couldn’t last through the six months without lots of injury issues. In some ways, you can’t blame Shelton, his starters were terrible, sometimes throwing 100+ pitches in five innings or less. But other times he went to the pen after a starter went through the rotation twice and had a pitch count under 90. So I guess either blow out your starters arms or your bullpen arms. A team with good starters doesn’t have to worry so much about this. Grade: F-

Manager/Coaching Staff: At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t sure about Shelton. Now I am. He needs to go. He isn’t the kind of manager winning teams have out there. Even Lloyd McClendon and John Russell didn’t manage two straight 100+ loss seasons. There was too many tactical mistakes and like I said he was bad for the bullpen. He cost this team games and the Pirates should look in a new direction. But they won’t. Grade: F

General Manager: Termarr Johnson drafting and the Quintana trade were the highlights of his season because nothing else went that good for him. We will probably never have an off-season like 1986-87 again (the Pirates traded Rick Rhoden and Tony Peña for Doug Drabek, Brian Fisher, Mike Dunne, Mike LaValliere and Andy Van Slyke), but there needs to be some major changes and I just wonder if the current front office has the guts and brains to do that. Grade: D-

Owner: Bob Nutting still shows up and does photo ops in his goofy looking suits with the top buttons unbuttoned for some reason and his transition lenses. I think the Pirates Hall of Fame was a good idea, but it should have been created at least a decade ago. Grade: A+

The rest of the division: I pretty much got it right. I didn’t think the Cardinals would win the division by so much, thought the Brewers would make it interesting. But yeah, the Brewers weren’t that good. The Cubs didn’t trade Contreras who is now a free agent, time will tell if the Cubs try to bring him back. The Reds sucked just like us and even put up the same record.

The rest of baseball: I picked the Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers as division winners in the NL and I was right. In the AL I went with Blue Jays, White Sox and Astros. So I guess 4 outta six isn’t bad. Yeah, the White Sox were a pretty bad pick. Didn’t see the Yankees being so good. Wild card picks in the NL were the Brewers, Phillies and Padres and in the AL were the Yankees, Mariners and Rays. So overall I got all but two of the right playoff teams. I guess MLB is pretty damned predictable. Didn’t see the Mets being so good. And the Guardians are the team I wish the Pirates were: good, young and exciting. Unlike the stuff we got this year.

The commissioner. I wish Kenesaw Mountain Landis would come back to life and ban Manfred for life. More expanded playoffs and universal DH are stupid. Grade: F-

Summary: What ever the Pirates do between now and mid-February will probably suck. This team sure did suck. They just plain sucked. I’ve seen teams suck before but this was the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. Oh, I gotta go, my damned wiener kids are listening. Oh yeah, Bob Nutting’s real grade is F.

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