PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — Ahh, Opening Day. Where winter officially ends for sports fan and hope springs eternal for all 30 cities of MLB teams as another season opens with a clean slate.
MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds joined the Fan Morning Show on Monday to discuss the Pirates hopes heading into Opening Day 2017.
Reynolds says he thought the Pirates’ success from 2013-15 would have carried them a little farther to this point.
“It’s been a weird turnaround for [the Pirates]. I thought they were a team that was going to go on a run for about five or six years and the whole thing comes down to financial stability,” said Reynolds. “Can you stabilize the organization with the pitching? I thought Neal Huntington did a nice job of getting the young players there. I just don’t know what we have right now. I don’t know if they have the depth. The Cubs just came out of nowhere and spent money, brought players up, got great talent and there on one of these unprecedented runs, I think we’ll see for another five years, so it may not be a division title coming out of there but I do think [the Pirates] can make the playoffs eventually and that may not be this year, we’ll see.”
Reynolds, like many national baseball writers and analysts, does believe that Andrew McCutchen will have a bounce back season.
“Everybody comes to a point in their career where you have to make a little bit of an adjustment, and I think he just waited too late to make an adjustment,” said Reynolds. “I didn’t like his hand position when he was at the plate, how he started with the bat on his shoulder and pushed it off and that’s a timing mechanism, and if that’s all off a little bit you’re going to struggle. Towards the end of the year he got that straightened out and looked like he started to take off in September and then watched him through this spring and the WBC and I think he’s fine. I think we’ll see Andrew McCutchen back at it again.”
There are some concerns about Josh Bell’s continued transition to first base defensively this season and whether he will adjust well or not. Reynolds says that playing first base is no easy task to get used to and that some players may carry their defensive struggles into the batter’s box with them.
“One of the lessons that you have to learn as an infielder is that you cannot take that offense to defense and before you know it you’re thinking about, ‘Man, I should have hit that slider,’ and the next thing you know, here comes a ground ball at you and you miss it,” Reynolds. “First base is so much more, you handle the ball more than anybody else in the infield other than the pitcher and catcher. You do not have time to worry about your offense that’s for sure.”
Reynolds also thinks Gerrit Cole is a bonafide ace of a staff and will get back to that this season.
“I love Gerrit Cole. I think he’s one of the reasons I’m optimistic about the Pirates. He’s a true number one and the stuff is there, always has been,” said Reynolds. “But I love the mindset and the mentality, he’s an assassin, man. He’s a guy that wants to fight, he’s going to continue to make the right pitches, he doesn’t like to lose, those are all qualities that you want. I think he’s definitely gone to the next level, last year I thought he was going to be that ace and he just did not have a healthy season. If he’s healthy, we’re talking about one of the top young pitchers in baseball.”
You can hear the entire interview with MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds on the Fan Morning Show below: