Tim Benz: How can Pirates blow up what doesn’t exist?
This probably shouldn’t have hit me the way it did.
It was late Saturday night on the set of the CW “Nightly Sports Call.” So maybe I was a bit testy.
With the July 31 MLB trade deadline looming, a call came in asking if it was time to “just blow this whole thing up” with the Pirates.
It set me off.
Blow what up? What “thing?”
If the Penguins had traded away Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin along with Phil Kessel, that would’ve been “blowing the whole thing up” at PPG Paints Arena.
If the Steelers had fired Mike Tomlin and traded Ben Roethlisberger along with ditching Antonio Brown and failing to re-sign Le’Veon Bell, that would’ve been “blowing the whole thing up” at Heinz Field.
Who are the Pirates removing from the roster that would constitute “blowing the whole thing up” at PNC Park?
First of all, what’s “the thing?” What “thing” exists at PNC Park? The team that plays there is a last-place squad that has won three postseason games since 1992.
That’s “a thing?”
The point is, there’s nothing to blow up. There’s nothing to dismantle. The Pirates are barely an entity.
Hence, who would genuinely be missed from the franchise if they were removed from it?
The list is short. Of the players on veteran contracts, who would constitute a major deletion from the Pirates’ plans moving forward?
Probably Starling Marte and Felipe Vazquez. And that’s it.
Even Gregory Polanco — as if anyone would want him while injured — getting shipped out wouldn’t be that big of a deal, especially with prospect Will Craig on the horizon.
Melky Cabrera and Corey Dickerson are good players. But they won’t be back next year. Jung Ho Kang is about to become a free agent. Francisco Cervelli, too. And even Chris Archer’s contract has club options on it.
Heck, if Neal Huntington doesn’t “blow it up” at the trade deadline, it’s going to happen on its own this winter, anyway.
To be honest, even if Vazquez and Marte were to be moved, how seismic would those decisions be? If the Pirates are never ahead in the ninth inning, how often will a closer really be missed from a cellar-dwelling organization?
As talented as Marte is, his mental gaffes and wild inconsistencies have made him maddening to manage.
For as useful as many of those players are, they haven’t helped the Pirates be anything but at the bottom of the standings. Plus, very few of them are in the works to be part of an attempt to get better in 2020.
So “blow the whole thing up?” Sure. Go ahead. But I hardly expect a mushroom cloud over the North Shore by the evening of July 31.