So the worst team in baseball made no moves at the trade deadline. This is after an offseason in which the team’s big moves were adding Jarrod “.157” Dyson and Derek “7.62” Holland. No doubt we will get reassurances now from Ben Cherington, in fluent Huntingtonese, that the team likes its young talent and thinks that many of the current players will be part of a winner in Pittsburgh.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for the failure of MLB’s most needy team once again to address any needs. First and foremost there’s Bob Nutting. When you have MLB’s lowest payroll for the second year in a row, it’s hard to have any good players on it. Then there’s Neal Huntington. His obsession with controllable mediocrities left the Pirates with . . . uh . . . a bunch of mediocrities, and his quest to use all his available assets on years of control left the team with no depth. Teams are looking for upgrades at the deadline, and fifth starters and AAAA utility players aren’t going to be upgrades for anybody. And the team’s lack of depth and unwillingness to spend any money at all meant it was filling all its openings with waiver claims, which by definition have no trade value.
But Cherington deserves a sizeable share of the blame, too. During the offseason, he clung to every tradeable player who didn’t have a large salary to dump. Then when guys like Joe Musgrove and Keone Kela got hurt, it was too late. That’s the same blunder Huntington made with his closer a year ago. Cherington also chose to fill the team’s gaping holes with players who still left them with gaping holes. A decent outfielder, starting pitcher or established reliever might have built up some trade value. Instead, most of the players Cherington added have been dumped, with only a little international slot room — which Nutting may not be willing to spend — to show for them.
The silver lining is that there’s at least some chance fans will stop buying into the myth of the “good young core.” When Huntington broke up the ’27 Yankees, the return was a serious disappointment. Cherington supposedly tried hard to break up the ’27 Yankees again, but this time nobody even wanted any of them. A “good young core” would have sold in a hurry. This team is a long, long ways from being competitive, much less winning anything. Maybe the front office will finally face up to the fact that the roster needs a massive overhaul. But I’m not betting on it.