It wasn’t that long ago that acquiring a big name was unthinkable for the Pirates, and that narrative stood until July 31, 2018.
That was the day that they traded for Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays, sending away fan favorite Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and one of their top prospects in Shane Baz.
Do you remember the excitement level at the time? I surely do, and it was because general manager Neal Huntington had just traded for an ace. Even though the Pirates had been lacking in attendance in all of 2018, much like this year, they had a pretty good crowd for Archer’s first start in Pittsburgh. It was a total of 26,773. The Pirates averaged 18,786 fans at PNC Park.
I remember I thought at the time that it hurt to lose Meadows, but as the old business saying goes, ‘You have to give something to get something.’
Most fans, myself included, didn’t really care that Glasnow was in the deal. He had lost a bunch of opportunities at being a member of the Pirates rotation, and he wasn’t doing much better in the bullpen. I don’t blame the Pirates for moving on from him.
And with Baz? Well, who knows on this one. No one ever does with prospects. I have long believed that Huntington valued prospects way too much. In reality, he has maybe drafted one “can’t miss” guy in Gerrit Cole, and he was the No. 1 overall pick in the year he was picked. Andrew McCutchen was drafted in the previous regime, and Huntington’s next best drafted player after Cole might be Josh Bell.
Who knows what Baz will turn out to be? If he ends up being an above average Major Leaguer, good for him. If he doesn’t, that’s okay, too.
Fast forward to 2019. Even though he’s on the injured list at the moment, Glasnow is 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy he’s figured out his problems.
Meadows is also doing just fine for himself in Tampa Bay. He now has a .337 batting average with nine homers. Not too surprising. A lot of us thought he was going to be pretty good in Pittsburgh.
And then we see what Archer has done since he arrived in Pittsburgh last summer. I would provide the numbers, but I’m sure you don’t want to read about how lousy he’s been, especially after he wasn’t very good again on Tuesday night.
But with this situation, I’ll also throw out another cliche. Hindsight is 20/20.
It’s easy to claim that they should have never traded for Archer now. But nobody could have predicted that he would be as bad as he’s been.
What becomes funny to me is when Pirate fans claim to want Glasnow back. Like they didn’t feel the same way about him as they do Archer right now.
Pirate fans are very hard to please. I get it. I’m a diehard. They’ve caused me more heartache than I’d like to remember. It has become our nature to be pessimistic about the team, and most of it is on the ownership.
But please don’t keep acting like it was the worst trade they’ve ever made, when not even 10 months ago, we were longing for a star.
Andy Stine is the sports editor of The Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.