Monday, August 11, 2014

Pirates at the Crossroads

How do you explain the rather curious hex that the San Diego Padres, hardly one of baseball's elite, have had on the Pirates at PNC Park over the last fourteen seasons?  Oh, it was easy to explain when the Pirates mostly stunk for most of that time, but now, the Pirates are pretty good, and they still can't beat that outfit.  This past weekend's 1-2 showing against the Padres was just a continuation of a depressing trend.

I know that I am not alone in scratching my head over the Pirates rather curious decision not to put Andrew McCutchen and/or Neil Walker on the DL and play, essentially, with a 23 man roster for the past week, while sending such stiffs as Jason Nix, Michael Martinez, and Brent Morel (since shipped out) to face actual Major League competition.  It prompts the following thoughts and conjectures:

  1. McCutchen and Walker aren't really hurt that bad.  However, nothing over the weekend gave any indication that this is the case.
  2. The Pirates thought they could blow throughout the Marlins and Padres while playing shorthanded and without competent major league players in the lineup.  Guess what? The other teams get paid, too.
  3. With the recall of Gregory Polanco earlier in the season, the Pirates have no one in the minor leagues who can play in the outfield or serve as a fourth or fifth outfielder in place of McCutchen.  That apparently includes Jose Tabata, who I am guessing will never wear a Pirate uniform again.
  4. It might also include Andrew Lambo, who is tearing up the International League since he returned from injury.
  5. After he sat out several games, why burn Walker as a pinch hitter on Saturday night? His 15 day DL clock states all over again now should the team decide he needs to go on the list.
  6. Again, Jason Nix and Michael Martinez.  Really?  I didn't think it was possible to have anyone make me long for the return of Clint Barmes, but these guys have pulled it off.
The Pirates now face ten games against three really good teams - the Tigers, Nationals, and Braves.  These ten games, I think, are going to tell us a lot about just how meaningful the following five weeks of the season will be for the Buccos.

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