Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hague, Sunday Notes

When the Pirates sent down Matt Hague yesterday, they cited getting him everyday at-bats and more time at third as the primary reasons for the decision, and that's sound reasoning. But we think a case could have been made that was equally strong to have shipped Josh Harrison to Indy.

Our logic is that without Hague, the Pirates are locked into Casey McGehee as Garrett Jones platoon shadow at first, leaving Harrison and Yamaico Navarro as Pedro Alvarez's dance partners. Without going into deep analysis, we think it would make more sense to construct a righty lineup with Hague at first and McGehee at his natural spot at the hot corner.

Hague projects as a sort of Casey Kotchman clone with a little more upside if his spring performance is any indicator, the kind of guy that you can slip into the six hole. And his minor league stat line shows that his splits are fairly even, so he can be used off the bench against a righty.

We have no beef with Harrison. He puts the ball in play, is versatile and can run, some fairly valuable attributes for a guy who comes off the bench, and has shown that he's not out of water in the show. With the starts that Jones (a notoriously streaky hitter) and Alvarez have had, the corner positions could be up for grabs by mid-June, and we posit that McGehee and Hague would be a more productive duo and a bit better in the field than Harrison or Navarro with McGehee.

So we'll see. The FO has said that Harrison and Hague may yo-yo between Indy and Pittsburgh all year (and Navarro, if Harrison can handle SS), depending on the team situation and upcoming matchups. They all have multiple options left, so that scenario could easily unfold..

It also could be that the management is just buying some time to see if Alvarez and Jones can hit their way out of their funk and if McGehee can continue to square up on the ball. After all, eight games and twenty or so at-bats is a mighty small sample size, and in the longer view it may pay to keep Hague in a daily groove. Still, in the short term, we'd rather see Hague's bat in the Pirate lineup, at least against lefties.

At any rate, we're talking a few weeks to allow the Pirate offense to settle in, one way or another. The team dynamics and needs should be clearer in June.

  • AJ Burnett will make another rehab start on Monday, this time with Indy. Depending on the results, he could be two minor league starts away from rejoining the team.
  • The Pirates plan to alternate Matt Hague at first and third while he's in the minors. Hague was drafted as a third baseman, and was shifted to first partly because of a crowd of young hot sackers entering the organization and partly because he didn't field the position all that well.
  • An interesting tale of TV revenue by Bob Cohn of the Trib. He writes that "in this era of expanding revenues, the Pirates apparently missed the boat, if not the gravy train" with their Root Sports deal.


WilliamJPellas said...

Ron, you are SO right on about Hague. I am with you 100%. Hague and McGehee definitely give us a better chance to win right now. I think you're right, though, re: the front office's motives. They are trying to buy time for the Pedro experiment to play out. Speaking of which I am glad to see Hurdle batting Pedro sixth. I wouldn't put him any higher in the lineup than that until further notice, but sixth is high enough up that it should give him enough protection from the hitters behind him to see enough fastballs to show us what he's got.

Ron Ieraci said...

Protection? From Barmes and Barajas? Let's hope they can pick it up soon.

I'm not sure they're sold on Jones, either. But even if McGehee bounces back to 2010 form, he can still only play one position at a time.

I do agree that if the FO thinks it can massage Pedro here better than they can at Indy, they should go all out and find out one way or another.

From what I've read, they brought in Navarro because they think he's Barme's insurance policy, although he hasn't shown all that much yet.

So it is very much a team that's still in transition. I was hoping they'd start putting more pieces together by now.