Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Pedro Conundrum

GM Neal Huntington announced that Pedro Alvarez will start the season with the Bucs in spite of his less than inspiring spring line of .135/2/3 and 18 K in 37 ABs (49%). Hey, we've always said that spring stats aren't worth the newsprint they show up on. But when a 25 year old has been zipped through the minors (El Toro has barely 100 games at the AAA level) and is coming off a .191/4/19 season, they do mean something.

But the meaning is entirely different to the FO and the general fan base. GW casts his vote with the populists: Pedro should start at Indy, based purely on performance and experience. Bucco management begs to differ, and their vote is the one that counts.

There are several reasons for their decision beyond mollycoddling their first-ever primo pick. Pedro is going through some tweaking at the plate, and the Pirate management see mechanical progress in the swing. Their justification is that they'd rather have Alvarez work it out against MLB pitching, exactly the opposite how they felt last season.

Another reason to keep Pedro here is because, well, the replacements aren't really all that much better. Casey McGehee, Josh Harrison, Yamaiko Navarro and Matt Hague aren't exactly Mike Schmidt reincarnations. And there is no question that the September 2010 Alvarez is something the Pirate lineup desperately lacks: middle of the order presence.

Which segues to upside. The Pirate brass are counting on Pedro's pedigree to rise to the top. While his recent game performance leaves something to be desired, he's still crushin' the horsehide at BP. If you need reminded of the value of a guy that can go yard in a hurry, remember that the Pittsburgh cleanup hitter this spring has been Neil Walker, who averages 12 HR and 75 RBI in his career.

And it's tough to argue with that logic. With his potential and no real replacement on the horizon, the team figures it might as well take its shot with Pedro on the big team. We have to wonder, though, about how the Pirates have handled Pedro. Last year it was tough love; this year it's kid gloves. Maybe after he refused to play winter ball, the Bucs decided it was easier to just get along than butt heads.

The results of the Bucco's faith should be apparent by June or July. Either Pedro will be rehabilitated or his last option will be burned. We're hoping the FO is right this time. The Pirate future is much brighter with a productive Pedro than with a Plan B. 

Other news:
  •  Yamiako Navarro was clocked in the elbow with a pitch yesterday against the Phillies. The extent of his injury should be known today.
  • 28 year old Steve Pearce was released by the Twins. The infielder spent part of five season with the Bucs, but every time he was poised to make a move, his body broke down. He was an eighth round pick for Pittsburgh in the 2005 draft.
  • Aaron Thompson, who pitched a few innings for the Bucs last year, was suspended by the league for 50 games after his second drug violation. It was for a "drug of abuse" rather than a PED, meaning he was busted for using a recreational drug.
  • Tim Williams of Pirate Prospects reports that the Pirates have released eight players. The most notable is last year's Rule 5 pick, Josh Rodriguez.

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