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Did you see it? The Pirates made a great joke on Twitter this week.
The tweet in question came on October 10th, minutes before Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow squared off in a do-or-die Game 5 of the ALDS, and read, “Not tonight, Twitter.” It then featured a clip of a person (I’d like to believe it was either Neal Huntington, farm director Larry Broadway or Ray Searage) looking at tweets, closing a laptop, then hurling said laptop out of the press box.
A real gas, right? How hilarious that the Pirates were willing to acknowledge that two of their biggest failures were front and center for the nation to observe, opposing each other in a division series elimination game, something this team hasn’t seen in six years.
No amount of social media savvy changes the fact that the biggest joke of the 2019 MLB postseason is the Pirates themselves. Huntington, Frank Coonelly and Bob Nutting should have been shamed into oblivion by the entire Astros-Rays series. The team shouldn’t be trying to yuk it up on Twitter, because their mishandling of pitchers is anything but a laughing matter.
It’s a shameful failure. A series of termination-worthy missteps. Yet Huntington and Broadway, and scouting director Joe DelliCarri remain, ready to embark on a 2020 that likely holds more of the same, that is to say, disappointment.
At least Searage’s time can now be referred to in the past tense, though he still took the time to write a farewell to Pittsburgh in The Athletic this past week.
That piece clocked in at a beefy 904 words, way out of line for the guy who wanted at-bats finished in three pitches or less, preferably with a ground ball into an immaculately planned shift, the better to show off Huntington and his lieutenants’ acumen.
You’ve probably read the numbers enough to not have them rehashed here. Cole has turned into a flame-throwing strikeout machine. Precisely six pitchers since 1900 have managed to strike out more hitters than the 326 Cole fanned this season. You may have heard of them: Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Rube Waddell (1904 was a big “three true outcomes” year), Sandy Koufax and Bob Feller.
None of them had a higher strikeout percentage than Cole’s 39.9.
Glasnow was hurt most of the year, but when he was healthy, he was dominant. He did not remotely resemble the broken shell of a pitcher he was with Pittsburgh. He frequently looked unhittable.
If you’re scoring at home, the Pirates traded Cole, currently the best pitcher in the sport, for Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran and Jason Martin.
Glasnow went to Tampa, along with Austin Meadows, who led the Rays with a .922 OPS this season, and Shane Baz, who flashed dominant stuff in Tampa’s minor league system.
At least the Pirates got Chris Archer, who is both broken and currently not very good, in return.
I pause now, to let you replace your monitor or smartphone, since you have doubtless put your fist through it.
Huntington runs a franchise whose approach is antiquated, whose ability to get the most out of the talent they do acquire borders on nonexistent, and whose future, thanks to his failed dealings, looks dim. The Pirates, despite their preposterous organizational positivity, don’t have much hope for the future.
Coonelly and Huntington can try to talk tough and spin the present state of affairs positively all they want; the truth is that no one who has been paying attention expects anything out of this franchise, nor should they.
It’s arguable that no team is worse at developing pitchers, and that reality, coupled with the financial constraints that are a daily reality of Nutting’s ownership, contributes to a grim outlook, in the immediate and long-term.
Glasnow and Cole’s duel, and Cole’s continued excellence, are reminders of the Pirates’ past failings, ones that will define their future for the worse.
Doesn’t seem all that funny to me.