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Mack: Cool Your Hot Chris Archer Takes

Just two weeks later, and Pirate fans are self-inflicting buyer's remorse

Chris Mack
August 16, 2018 - 12:41 pm
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The hot take machine here at Entercom Pittsburgh HQ has been overheating the last 24 hours, and for a change, it’s not one of us providing the steam. It’s a fan base that asked and asked and asked for something, got it, and is now self-inflicting an all-too-early case of Buyer’s Remorse.

The 2018 MLB Trade Deadline in Pittsburgh ended up a holiday here in Pittsburgh. In what will forever be known as “Chris Archer Day,” General Manager Neal Huntington went out and made the kind of big move he has been loath to make over his decade-long tenure.

After years of clamoring from fans to stop hording prospects and to go out and get an impact player for the Major League roster at a time the team was in contention, Huntington pulled the trigger on a blockbuster, landing one of the two or three most coveted starting pitchers at the deadline in exchange for two of the team’s Top 5 prospects and a former top prospect who could never figure it out at the Major League level.

Yet, here we are, just over two weeks removed from the acquisition of one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball over the last five seasons, and some people want to drape it in black shrouds and solemn tones as if it were a death knell and not the first sign of what may be to come.

In those two weeks, we’ve learned something about everyone involved in the deal. We’ve seen Tyler Glasnow look good, but it’s in three starts and just 12 innings of work. Austin Meadows is hitting much like he did in Pittsburgh back in late May now that he’s at AAA Durham: .333 with 4 home runs. But that’s in just 13 minor league games. And last year’s 1st Round pick by the Bucs, Shane Baz, who was included in the deal this week, is rocking a 3.91 ERA in 20 career Rookie League starts.

What we’ve seen from Archer hasn’t been overly impressive. A 5.65 ERA and 25 baserunners in just 14.1 IP.

That’s in three starts though. In one of those starts Archer was amped up in front of a raucous home crowd that was jacked for his Pirates’ debut. In his second go ‘round  he was less than 24 hours removed from a case of food poisoning that nearly bumped him from the start.

Despite the adrenaline-induced jitters and gastrointestinal distress, Archer still has 10.0 K/9 since coming over from Tampa – good for Top 10 in the NL – indicating his stuff isn’t missing anything.

The crossed wires in people’s minds creating the knee-jerk reaction of Huntington “losing” the Archer deal is two-fold: First of all, you have the issue of trying to judge a deal that needs to play out over the course of the next 2-3 seasons in order to be properly assessed. Should Glasnow and Meadows become impact major leaguers – perhaps even making an All-Star appearance or two – it would still pale in comparison to what Archer’s contribution to a possible postseason rotation could be in 2019, 2020, or 2021.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it can’t be debated the positive impact of Archer’s acquisition on both his new teammates as well as a fan base that’s felt betrayed and ignored to an extent over the past year and a half. Players that wondered if they’d ever see their management go “all-in” for an All-Star caliber player to support them after winning eleven in a row in mid-July saw just that materialize before their very eyes. Fans who wondered the same got to celebrate a deal that was the headline around Major League Baseball on deadline day.

The Pirates had vaulted themselves back into the Wild Card race and decided to improve this year’s team – as well as the ’19, ’20, & ’21 clubs – with a trade that was difficult to make.

It was everything Pirates fans had been howling for.

And now they’re going to judge it based on two weeks? Two weeks and three starts apiece by Archer and Glasnow? Three starts in which Archer has left with the lead each time and his team has won twice? After a road trip in which Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco combined to hit just .184?

It’s fair to want to see Archer – a great personality, wonderful communicator, fan favorite already, and overall the kind of man a franchise puts on programs, media guides, and in the middle of ad campaigns – do well, and do well immediately. And it’s fair to wonder what will become of Glasnow, Meadows, and even Baz.

It’s not fair however, to either Archer or the Pirates, to negatively turn on a deal just two weeks after 99% of fans and the baseball world fawned all over it.

So relax on your “Huntington got fleeced” tweets and your “Archer’s a bum” hot takes. Chill. When we come back around to accurately analyzing this trade in 2-3 years, my guess is you’ll be happy you did.