July 30, 2010

Time To Get Rid of Ryan Church

What will it take for the Pirates to finally release Ryan Church?

Getting the start yesterday afternoon for the first time in ten days, Church went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.

The game brought his season line to .183/.242/.314. Inexplicably, Church has come to the plate 182 times despite this performance.

As Fangraphs' pitch data shows, Church has never been good against the breaking ball but in his 2006-08 heyday was a very good fastball hitter. Coupled with good defense and average speed, that's a recipe for a good fourth outfielder which is what Church was.

I emphasize 'was' because this year, Church has hit worse against the fastball than any player on the team except Jason Jaramillo. Did anyone - did John Russell - really expect him to get a hit Thursday off of Ubaldo Jimenez?

I am not necessarily faulting J.R. for giving Church the start Thursday. His managerial style is to use the whole 25-man roster that's made available to him, giving everyone at least one start a week. That's generally the only way to get the most out of your bench.

Yet this also means that until he's released, major league plate appearances will continue to be wasted on Ryan Church. He's 31, here on a one-year contract, and although eligible for arbitration will certainly be nontendered after the season. Whether it means going with a four-man outfield or calling up one of Indianapolis's outfielders, it's time to release Church outright and eat the remaining $500,000 on his contract.

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