In late September Dejan Kovacevic reported that Pirates Instructional League players are training like Navy SEALS down in Florida, much to their chagrin and possibly to their developmental detriment. At the time it was blown off by the Pirates as a short-lived little thing. Today Kovacevic has another report showing that, no, it was not short-lived.
Rather, as recently as last week, Pirates minor league coaches and instructors woke up Pirates prospects in the middle of the night shouting “it’s Hell Week!” and put them through more crazy PT and hazing such as scavenger hunts, two-mile runs and “relay races in which they ran back and forth filling garbage cans with sand.” The non-baseball drills would lead up until hours before they had to play scheduled instructional league games.
Worse: Gregory Polanco, one of the Pirates’ top prospects, aggravated an injury when he was made to sprint across the outfield “through an above-ground pool of ice water, then leaped into a sand pit.”
What in the Hell are the Pirates doing? Who is in charge and why are the team’s prospects being treated like military recruits and/or fraternity pledges? Isn’t the idea of the instructional league to instruct? As in baseball instruction?
Kyle Schwarber made a quicker-than-expected recovery from ACL surgery and then, after an Arizona Fall League rehab assignment, was shuttled up to Cleveland for the World Series. But that’s not all he has done.
Schwarber is now the latest ever Best Shape of His Life All-Star. Or so says Kris Bryant, talking to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“We’ve seen first-hand the work that he’s putting in and how hard he’s been going . . . Honestly, I saw him out — maybe a couple weeks after his surgery — and he’s moving around, walking. And I’m like: ‘Dang, this guy’s not human. How? I saw your leg bend in half, and you’re walking around. This is unbelievable . . .(It’s) watching him dripping with sweat every single day. Every single day, this guy is drenched. I feel like he’s in the best shape of his life (now). There was no doubt in my mind that he could do it. It was just a matter of if they let him.”
May as well just forfeit now, Indians. No way you can deal with an October BSOHL guy.
When Mike Hazen left the Red Sox to go run the Diamondbacks, the Red Sox set out to look for a new general manager to replace him. Now, according to Pete Abraham, they may not replace him after all. Instead, president Dave Dombrowski may just leave the seat vacant and run the Sox all by himself.
Which, to be clear, is something Dombrowski is more than capable of doing, as he has been a general manager for decades now. A lot of this stuff is a function of job title-inflation, with guys in Dombrowski’s position being given elevated titles despite the fact that they are, more or less, still running the baseball operations department like they did when they were merely general managers. GM, meanwhile, has become a less authoritative position in many organizations, making it a somewhat less visible and perhaps less desirable job than it used to be.
Not that it’s totally about optics. The job of running a ball club is a lot more complicated than it used to be, and having one guy who can run big picture stuff and close deals like Dombrowski with another one being in charge of the more day-to-day tasks of the top baseball executive may be ideal. It also may help reign in some of the excesses of the top guy. Dombrowski, after all, may have been a master of a the big deal while running the Tigers, but in a lot of ways the win-now philosophy cost the club a lot of money and a lot of lower level talent. Another voice with a decent degree of power may be useful in that mix. As may a clear line of succession should Dombrowski decide to move on in a year or two.