PITTSBURGH (AP) — General manager Ben Cherington believes there are better days ahead for the Pittsburgh Pirates despite having back-to-back seasons with 100 losses.
During his season-ending availability Friday, Cherington said the Pirates are making progress in their goal of building a long-term winner.
“If you think about the talent level, it’s not just that we think it’s getting stronger but also where it’s situated, that more and more of that young player talent is either starting to show up in the big leagues or at the upper levels and closer,” Cherington said.
The Pirates went 62-100 this year after finishing 61-101 last season. It marked the second time in franchise history they had back-to-back seasons with triple-digit losses. The club record of three straight was set from 1952-54.
Cherington would not predict the losing will end next season. However, he feels the Pirates should be able to field a competitive club.
The Pirates were pleased with the progress of young right-handers Roansy Contreras, Johan Oviedo and Luis Ortiz in 2021 as well as second baseman Rodolfo Castro, shortstop Oneil Cruz and outfielder Jack Suwinski among others.
“As we look toward spring training, I get really excited, because I think there’s going to be a ton of talent on the field that is closer to being a contributor at the major league level and helping us win more games,” Cherington said. “So, we’re really excited about that, and then obviously incredibly motivated to make it better, because losing makes us all miserable, and we’re doing too much of that.”
Not surprisingly, Cherington said adding pitching is his top offseason priority. The Pirates’ 4.66 ERA ranked 26th among the major leagues’ 30 teams.
The Pirates were 27th in runs scored with an average of 3.65. Cherington would like to find a way to improve Pittsburgh’s .291 on-base percentage, which was 28th.
“The on-base isn’t high enough for us to be consistently winning games, and we have to be on base more to score more runs and get to winning more baseball games,” he said. “We expect and need some of that to happen internally from guys continuing to grow, develop and mature as major league players, but if we can add to the offense this offseason in a way that can help us get on base more, that’s something we’d like to do.”
The Pirates finished the season with one of the youngest rosters in baseball. They also dealt two of their few veterans when left-hander Jose Quintana and designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach were traded near the deadline.
Some of the Pirates’ young players said late in the season that they would like to see some veteran leaders added for 2023. Cherington said he understands the value in having veterans but won’t necessarily pursue many over the winter.
“I love that the players are saying that,” Cherington said. “I think it speaks to what they’re seeing themselves around them, and players often see stuff quicker than any of us do. So, I love that we’re seeing that. I don’t know if its veteran or younger or anywhere in between. We want to find players that will strengthen our roster both on the pitching and position player side, and on the pitching side, that will be a forever thing.”
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