Thursday, December 3, 2015

Farewell to Pedro Alvarez

Last night the Pirates made official what close followers of the Bucs have long suspected so it should have come as no surprise when they "non-tendered" Pedro Alvarez, effectively ending his career as a Pittsburgh Pirate.  I knew that this day was coming, and I know that The Grandstander would be writing a farewell post, but where do you begin and what do you say?

I started by typing "pedro alvarez" into the search box of this blog, and I was stunned to see how many posts I had written on Pedro Alvarez.  I'm not about to count words, but there can't be many other people in any field that have had more written about him on this blog over the past six years than Pedro Alvarez.  I have been following the Pittsburgh sports scene since 1959, and I cannot recall any sports figure who has been more of a lightning rod, pro and con, than has Pedro Alvarez.  (The only ones who I can think of who come remotely close might be Dave Parker after he signed that million dollar contract and Kordell Stewart.) Part of this is no doubt attributable to the Social Media Age in which we live, when any one with access to a keyboard - ahem - can voice an opinion.

So, what do I say about Pedro now that the final spiked shoe has dropped?  How about I just rehash some of those thousands of words that I have already written.

How about this from May 11, 2015:

And then there is Pedro Alvarez.  He seems to be handling the move to first base reasonably well, defensively. (Oops, I don't have that one right, did I?) His offensive numbers, however, sit at .217 with 5 HR, 14 RBI, and a.753 OPS.  Oh, and 27 K's in 92 at bats.  Alvarez has now accumulated over 2,100 at bats in the major leagues.  We can probably draw some conclusions.  He's going to hit 25-30 HR's in a season, drive in about 90 runs, hit about .235, and strike out 180 or so times.  He will make our jaws drop with some of the blasts that he will hit, and he will drive us totally nuts when he looks completely impotent at the plate swinging and missing while striking out in key situations.  Love him or hate him, what we have seen is what he is.

(He finished 2015 at .243 BA with 27 HR, 77 RBI, and 131 K).

Obviously, the Pirates had concluded that this just wasn't good enough, certainly not at the $8 million salary that Pedro would command in arbitration this year, and neither did any other major league teams who all turned deaf to any trade discussions concerning Alvarez.

Then there was this comment from this past October 8, 2015:

What we all saw last night was surely Pedro's last appearance in a Pirate  uniform.  How he was used by the Pirates this season made it apparent that the team had  lost their patience with such a one dimensional player, and the decision to not start him yesterday surly reinforced that notion.  I have always been a Pedro backer.  Many times over these last six seasons, and as recently as just this past Sunday afternoon, I have been in awe of how far he can hit a baseball.  Last night, however,  truly encapsulated the Conundrum that is Pedro Alvarez:  Over the course of 162 games, he will hit a lot of home runs, but when it comes down to any one specific game, he is far more likely to do what he did last night - strike out three times - than he is to launch one on the river walk.

I also throw in these two links on Pedro posts that addressed both his propensity to strike out and his production, offensively and defensively, to another past Pirate first baseman.

From May 16, 2013:

And from September 25, 2015:

Some other random thoughts on Pedro Alvarez....

  • We all remember that Pedro was a first round draft choice int he 2008 entry draft, the second overall pick in that draft.  Who went ahead of him? It was pitcher Tim Beckham to the Rays.  Beckham never panned out.
  • I am told by someone in the know that the discussions within the Pirates brain trust as to who to draft with that pick centered on three players: Alvarez, Buster Posey, and Eric Hosmer.  Hosmer went with the third pick to the Royals, and the Giants took Posey with the fifth pick.
  • The 18th pick in that draft by the way, was Ike Davis by the Mets, and with the 28th pick, the Yankees selected high school pitcher Gerrit Cole, who, fortunately, chose to enroll at UCLA instead.
The final career stats for Alvarez as a Pirate:
  • 2,784 plate appearances
  • 2,500 at bats
  • 590 hits
  • .236 batting average
  • 131 HR
  • 401 RBI
  • 809 K
  • 259 BB
  • .750 OPS
Averaged out over 162 games, Pedro the Pirate produced 29 HR, 88 RBI, 177 K, and 57 BB.

I have, mercifully, not included any of Alvarez' woeful defensive metrics.

Personally, I am sorry to see Pedro leave, but it became apparent as the season wore on, and as the lineup card was made for the Wild Card game, that it was time for both the Pirates and Alvarez to turn the page and move on.  Surely, the Pirates will have a difficult, if not impossible, time replacing those 29 HR's per season.  They will no doubt improve defensively with anybody playing first base, but will they be a better team without him?  That is an impossible question to answer until Neal Huntington assembles all of the pieces that will comprise the 2016 Pirates.

By all appearances, Alvarez was a good guy and a good teammate.  He certainly never caused any problems within the clubhouse or with the public. I hope that he succeeds mightily wherever he may end up. 

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