Friday, June 11, 2010

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Historically true to form and predictably enough, the Pirates are in full June Swoon mode.

The Pirates are in last place, 14 games under .500 and spiraling fast. They've lost five straight and are 3-11 in their in their last 14 games.

Tonight, they begin interleague play, which has been an abysmal sinkhole for the franchise. Since interleague play began, they're the worst at it. So, even as they continue on a pace to lose 108 games, it might get worse from here on out.

Like Pirates fans everywhere, we've been asking -- pleading -- what is management waiting for? Why are they waiting to call up Pedro Alvarez?
One possible answer -- ugly and disturbing as it may be -- is raised by the Post-Gazette's Bob Smizik this morning:

"The Pirates are looking for a PNC Park debut for Alvarez and the additional ticket sales that would mean. ... what other explanation is there for Alvarez still playing at Indianapolis?"

That notion is so ridiculous and absurd that it never occurred to Joey Porter's Pit Bulls, naive as we are.
It rings true, however, and it is so-o-o-o Pirates.

They're keeping Alvarez in Indianapolis so they can sell tickets for his major league debut at PNC Park.

Yeah, probably.

That's the only conclusion that makes sense, though it makes no sense at all in the pure baseball sense. Otherwise, he would be on a plane to Detroit and in the starting lineup at third base tonight against the Tigers. He's done more than enough in AAA, as Smizik points out:

"Alvarez is tearing up the International League. He drove in 30 runs last month. He’s hitting over .400 this month. The problem he had with left-handed pitching earlier in the season has disappeared. He was batting .322 against lefties before last night. He was third in home runs and RBIs in the International League.

"What makes it all the more obvious that the Pirates should recall Alvarez is the almost total lack of production they’re receiving from current third baseman Andy LaRoche.

After an excellent start, LaRoche has been abysmal. Since April 28, he’s batting .175 (21 for 120). He’s driven in seven runs during that span and has hit one homer -- on May 4. There is no reason for the Pirates to continue to play him with Alvarez waiting.

"Just about anyone would be an upgrade over LaRoche, but Alvarez has the potential to be a major middle-of-the-lineup force for the Pirates. That's why they took him with the second pick in the 2008 draft. That's why they paid him a $6 million bonus to sign. He has the look of a 3-4-5 hitter. With the Pirates, he could start off hitting sixth, behind Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit, to lessen some of the pressure on him."


Anonymous said...

Seeing the way the recent call ups have been hitting the ball, I say put Alvarez in immediately at #4 in the lineup and try to get the team some runs.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...


... especially since they're playing this weekend in DETROIT, where they use the DESIGNATED HITTER.