June 11, 2010

Pirates Revamp Their Lineup

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / June 11, 2010

As Pirate fans well know, the Pittsburgh offense has been a minor disaster this year. How bad is it? With 196 runs in 60 games, the hometown nine are scoring fewer runs per game than any Pirates team since the 1917 Pirates, a dead ball era team which collectively hit 9 home runs all year.

They're also a pace to score 100 fewer runs than last year's team, a team which itself finished 30th in baseball in runs.

Given all this, it was painfully necessary to start promoting hitting prospects.

Neil Walker (.321/.392/.560 at Indianapolis) was the first to come up and is now the everyday second baseman. In 15 games he's hitting .322/.365/.492 which actually makes him the best hitter in the Buccos lineup thus far, slightly ahead of even Andrew McCutchen.

Tabata Added
The other shoe dropped Wednesday. Jeff Clement and his .230 OBP was finally optioned to Indianapolis. He'll turn 27 in two months, and still looks like an AAA player. I think Clement's knees robbed him of a shot to stick in the majors, since he probably has enough pop to be a backup catcher but nothing else. With the move to first, he looks like an AAA lifer.

In exchange, the Pirates promoted Jose Tabata, .308/.373/.424 at Indianapolis. Tabata immediately becomes the everyday left fielder and leadoff hitter. Tabata is a wild card; his Indianapolis numbers were the same as McCutchen's 2008, but there are questions about his age among other things. I'd say his most comparable player is Nyjer Morgan, meaning that he should really be a starting center fielder or fourth outfielder. But despite his lack of pop, he should at a minimum tie Lastings Milledge's year to date total of zero home runs. I for one had grown tired of Milledge taking bad routes to balls in the outfield and making dumb outs on the bases.

Doumit to first
Ryan Doumit started at first base last night for the first time since 2007. Unlike Jim Tracy, current management actually had Doumit, you know, work out at first base before putting him there in a game. Mad props. Of course, first base proved to be yet another position where Doumit can mishandle a ball in the dirt leading to a run. It's unclear whether he will start at first regularly or only on his off days from catching, but I'd expect a 50/50 split as the Pirates try to build his trade value up. Regardless, this means Doumit will be in the lineup every day which obviously helps the offense.

Wherefore art thou Pedro?
The Pirates have one move left, which is to promote Pedro Alvarez. Pedro is on an absolute tear, 13-for-24 in his last seven games including six extra base hits in that span. His stats are up to .291/.380/.552, basically the same numbers that merited promoting Walker. He's also scored 40 runs and driven in 50 over 61 games and has a good walk rate.

Pedro is still striking out once a game on average but is producing about as much as a player possibly can while doing it. His K rate is still my main remaining question; if like most players he strikes out more in the major leagues, we're talking 180 strikeouts a year. The lefthander has answered questions about his platoon splits this year, hitting an absurd .320/.420/.683 against southpaws.

Current third baseman Andy LaRoche had a decent 2009 but is hitting .240/.306/.329 this season. Is that an off year or his true talent level? Consider that he's also hitting .231/.313/.349 career. Since May 5 he's driven in five runs. It's Alvarez time.

Your 2011 Pirates
Here's the lineup I think you'll see starting this coming homestand, and continuing for the rest of the season barring trades. And for that matter, in 2011 except that we might get a semi-real shortstop.

1. Tabata
2. Walker
3. McCutchen
4. Jones
5. Doumit
6. Alvarez
7. Jaramillo, Milledge or Church
8. Cedeno
9. Pitcher

Looks like a legitimate major league lineup! Wooooooo and GO BUCS!

1 comment:

  1. I'm starting to think that I'm the only Pirates fan who hates Ryan Doumit.

    Anyway, great blog. I linked it on our shitty blog so that means about 1 more vistor a year for you.

    Lets go Bucs!