First Pitch: This 101-Loss Pirates Team Has Me Feeling Optimistic

You’re not supposed to be able to do what Oneil Cruz can do.

This is a society and there are rules, and the TVA will purge people to the void if they start flailing their six-foot-seven frames about, hitting homers from a hovering position that is hardly an inch off the ground.

This is the type of stuff that violates the space-time continuum. Dropping to your knee for an 80 MPH changeup that’s a foot off the ground and hitting it 408 feet? There’s something about that which violates the natural laws of this reality we are living inside.

Cruz has the capability to be a special player. If you’re looking for signs of hope for a better Pirates future than what the 2021 season subjected us to, then Cruz would be a great place to start.

And it’s not like Cruz is the only one.

This is a team that has an MVP candidate in center field in Bryan Reynolds.

They’ve got a guy at third base who I believe will win multiple Gold Glove awards, and don’t count out the offense from Ke’Bryan Hayes either.

Jacob Stallings looks like a leader behind the plate, and a guy who the Pirates won’t need to upgrade over until 2021 first overall pick Henry Davis comes around.

There are a lot of candidates on either side of the ball for that “post-prospect” breakout in 2022 or beyond, including Mitch Keller, Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, and JT Brubaker.

And Cruz is one of many talented prospects making their way to the upper levels who we could see more of in the majors in 2022.

The Pirates have the pieces to begin their build from this 101-loss season to a World Series.

The first step toward that will be seeing how General Manager Ben Cherington responds to this season, and how he adds to the team this offseason.

I’ll be breaking down the 2021 season every day over the next few weeks, getting an idea of what this organization has, and when we might see them back in the playoffs.

My early prediction: They can make the playoffs by 2023, or as early as next season if they get aggressive this offseason with outside additions. Most of that aggressive adding would have to come on the pitching side, where the team has prospects further away, and needs more immediate help in the majors.

Daily Links

**Prospect Watch: Carmen Mlodzinski Debuts in Indianapolis Loss

**Sweep(less), Pirates Drop Season Finale 6-3 To Reds

**Game Recap: Miserable Season Lurches to a Dreary End

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 3rd, Hall of Famer Fred Clarke and Bob Skinner

**Card of the Day: 1910 E96 Fred Clarke

PBN Updates

The 2021 season is over, but my season is just starting. I’ll have a site update tomorrow on my offseason writing schedule, and what to expect here at PBN. Spoiler Alert: Expect daily articles here and at Pirates Prospects.

Song of the Day

First Pitch