While teams like the Phillies, Mets, and Giants are out making big moves, signing free agents to massive contracts, other National League teams have been quieter. For instance, the Pirates - perennially one of baseball's “have nots” - were not involved in the bidding for Carlos Correa or Justin Verlander. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been completely inactive, and they have a hype video to prove it:
When I first saw that Tweet, I thought, “Oh, the Pirates actually signed someone. That’s nice.” Then I took a closer look, trying to figure out who Vinny was. And then it dawned on me: Holy crap, it’s Vince Velasquez!
Vince Velasquez was not the worst pitcher to ever take the mound for the Phillies, but he might be my least favorite. Every year when Spring rolled around, we got to hear how THIS was going to be the year when Velasquez put it all together and have his breakthrough season.
"Vince Velasquez is going to figure it out this year" is the "Ben Simmons is going to be a legitimate outside shooter" of baseball takes.— Smarty Jones: Jingling all the way (@TheSmartyJones) July 17, 2020
2022 was the best Phillies season in a long time, and I don’t think it’s 100% coincidental that it was the first season where Velasquez was not a part of the roster. Remember how I criticized the Taijuan Walker signing last week? I would take a rotation of five Walkers at any price rather than watch Vince Velasquez make another start in a Phillies uniform.
So why did the Pirates make his signing seem like a big deal. Did Velasquez have a good season in 2022, and I somehow missed it? It would be somewhat fitting if Velasquez did actually become good after the Phillies finally gave up on him.
No, as it turns out, the Pirates are just kind of pathetic. Looking at his stats and game log from 2022, I can safely say that Velasquez did not have his breakthrough season. Playing for the White Sox, Velasquez began the season as a starter, and made seven very Velasquez-like starts. Take a look at this game log. If I asked you to guess which ex-Phillies produced this game log, you would get it on the first try, wouldn’t you?
The Sox demoted him to the bullpen where he spent the rest of the season, serving as a sporadically effective middle reliever, before sending him on his way into free agency.
Chicago’s loss is the Pirates’ rotation gain, since the plan in Pittsburgh is to use Velasquez as a starting pitcher again:
Pirates GM Ben Cherington on RHP Vince Velasquez: “He has a starter’s repertoire and we are looking forward to working with him and watching him start games in black and gold.”— Kevin Gorman (@KevinGormanPGH) December 13, 2022
Velasquez, 30, was 3-3, 4.78 ERA/1.23 WHIP, 8.2 K9, in 75.1 IP over 27G/9 GS with White Sox in '22.
If you’re skeptical that putting Vinny into the rotation might be a flawed strategy, there’s a chance it might work out better this time around because he learned things from spending time as a reliever:
Asked new Pirate Vince Velasquez about if there are lessons he can take from relieving to being a starter again pic.twitter.com/mRBAEGKyZW— Alex Stumpf (@AlexJStumpf) December 13, 2022
Obviously, there is no chance this will work out well for the Pirates. If I could place a bet on, “Will Vince Velasquez be an effective starter in 2023?” I think I would place my life’s savings on “no.”
I feel bad for the few remaining Pirates fans. I’ve watched more than my share of bad Phillies teams, and seen the team make a lot of bad moves. But if things ever get to the point where they’re putting out hype videos for the likes of Vince Velasquez, then I might have to give up on the team.