Pirates GM Neal Huntington needs to look no further than the numbers being posted by the Pirates since the All-Star break to realize the urgency for a consistent offensive acquisition.
Here are some alarming samples of the offensive futility displayed by the Pirates since the Mid-Summer Classic. The real surprise is that most of them are considered the power hitters in the heart of the Pirates line-up:
- Andrew McCutcheon has slumped to a .200 average post- ASG. Cutch continues to contribute in other ways that make his slump a bit more forgivable, with stellar defensive play and RBIs from outs.
- Since being recalled to Pittsburgh on Monday, Pedro Alvarez has regressed, even beyond his earlier struggles. In four games, he is 3-for-17 (.176). He has just one extra-base hit (a double), two walks, two RBIs, and nine strikeouts. And Pedro is flourishing compared to the others below.
- Outfielder Mike Diaz has put up a .158 average since the break and also has yet to hit a home run this season.
- First-baseman Lyle Overbay has become the poster boy for underachievers for the entire season, yet he has still managed to under-perform himself during the ‘second half’ with a .156 average.
- OF-1B Garret Jones has performed even worse, at a .147 clip.
- Utility player Steve Pearce, back from the disabled list, has yet to find his footing, batting a miserable .133 in 15 at-bats.
More mystifying is the fact that Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle is a proven, successful batting coach.
Before the Pirates tabbed Hurdle as their new manager after the end of last season, Hurdle was the batting coach for the Texas Rangers, and considered a major reason the Rangers advanced to the World Series. Hurdle has the ability and the talent to help improve these guys, yet it doesn’t seem to be translating to the batter’s box.
There are a few bright spots since the All-Star Game:
- Neil Walker is the Bucs’ most consistent hitter, batting .333 and an OPS of .863
- Eric Fryer, in limited action, has hit .417
- Mike McKenry continues to improve, batting .293 beyond the break.
- Brandon Wood has posted a respectable .849 OPS
- Alex Presley, though cooling somewhat, was at a .276 pace at the time of his injury last weekend.
- The pitching staff has borne a tremendous load and has exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations.
- Somehow the Pirates have managed to stay afloat, cashing outs for runs and surviving to the point of remaining just one-and-a-half games out of first place.
Huntington continues to seek a player who can contribute for average on a consistent basis and beyond the end of this season.
The real question here is: Is just one player enough to make a difference, based on the above numbers?
And which non-pitchers on the roster are truly not expendable, save for Andrew McCutcheon, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata? A lot of the previously-considered ‘untouchable’ players are actually far from just that.
Use them for a trade.
The current stand-outs are largely replacements for injured players, and not the regulars.
Neal Huntington needs to re-assess his on-field team, and determine who to sacrifice to acquire a proven commodity.
Parting with some players who are revealed to be underachieving during a crucial stretch of the schedule no longer sounds like a bad idea, should the return player(s) prove reliable.