Found May 28, 2013 on Pirates Prospects:
Jordy Mercer is getting playing time, but he should be getting most of Brandon Inge’s playing time as well. Photo Credit: David Hague About two weeks ago the biggest topic surrounding Pirates baseball was the fate of Jordy Mercer. Some argued that he should have remained in the majors, with John McDonald being released, Brandon Inge taking McDonald’s role, and Mercer taking Inge’s role. Some felt he should go to Triple-A and play everyday, fearing that the Pirates would just sit him on the bench while he was in the majors. It was a debate between “what the Pirates should do” and “what the Pirates will do”. The Pirates ended up sending Mercer down, but the move was short-lived. Two days later McDonald went on the DL and Mercer was brought back, creating the scenario that Pirates fans had discussed so much leading up to the moves. It was time to see what the Pirates would do, with the hope that they would do the thing most people felt they should do: give Mercer playing time. So far, the “should do vs will do” debate has been a compromise. It hasn’t been Jordy Mercer riding the bench, but it also hasn’t been Brandon Inge becoming the new John McDonald. Since McDonald went on the DL, Mercer has received 21 plate appearances. Inge has received 23 plate appearances. To put that in perspective, Andrew McCutchen (an every-day player) has 49 plate appearances in the same span. For more perspective, it has been 12 days since McDonald went on the DL. McDonald had 9 plate appearances in the 12 days leading up to his trip to the DL. So the Pirates aren’t giving either player “John McDonald” playing time, and they’re both splitting the playing time that a regular player would receive. From this I have two questions. 1. Why do the Pirates ever need a specific “last man off the bench”? John McDonald has one value to the team: defense. However, the Pirates already have strong defense at the shortstop position, which limits the usage for McDonald. When he was healthy he only had value as a replacement for Clint Barmes. He didn’t get much playing time, taking the “last man off the bench” role that we’ve seen occupied by many Pirates middle infielders in the past (including Jordy Mercer in 2012). Now we’re seeing Inge and Mercer getting equal playing time. Neither guy is the “last man off the bench”. Instead, the “LMOB” (yeah, I’m going to call it “LMOB” from now on) is whoever isn’t playing that day. Really that’s the way it should be. Instead of having a dead roster spot on your bench, you should rotate guys in the lineup and split playing time like the Pirates are doing with Inge and Mercer. You don’t need one specific guy as the “LMOB”. And if you’ve got a guy like McDonald who doesn’t bring any value with the bat, and who has limited value off the bench, then he probably shouldn’t be on the team to begin with. That brings me to question number two. 2. Why aren’t the Pirates using a specific “LMOB” right now? Yeah, I just said that the way it should be involves rotating bench guys and giving equal playing time. But I also said that a guy like McDonald shouldn’t be on the team. The Pirates have another guy like McDonald on the team, and his name is Brandon Inge. In theory you’d want your bench players to be rotated in the lineup to receive equal playing time. But here are two (small sample size) stat lines that say the Pirates would be better off giving all of the playing time to Jordy Mercer, rather than splitting his time with Brandon Inge. Jordy Mercer – .294/.308/.569 in 53 PA Brandon Inge – .227/.261/.258 in 70 PA Mercer is younger, he’s hitting, he’s hitting for power, and the only downside is that he doesn’t have a lot of walks. Inge has that same downside, but without the “hitting and hitting for power” part. Inge has a career track record that Mercer doesn’t have, but that track record is trending down, and the trend looks to be continuing this year. The only value Inge brings to the team is a good glove and leadership skills. The leadership skills are still there if he’s getting John McDonald playing time. The glove doesn’t make up for the loss at the plate when Mercer is on the bench. The Pirates should have given Inge that minimal playing time that McDonald received, and given Mercer the bulk of the time off the bench. Give him most of Inge’s playing time and you’ve got about 60-70% of regular playing time off the bench for Mercer. Many predicted that the Pirates wouldn’t give Mercer any time, and to their credit they’ve been giving him equal time to Inge. But there is no reason at all to split time off the bench between Inge and Mercer. Inge is showing no value to this team on the field, while Mercer keeps proving himself to be a better short-term option, all while getting him ready to be a potential long-term option in the majors. Links and Notes **The DraftStreet freeroll is back! One Day FREE Fantasy Contest – $300 in cash prizes. Join today! **The newest Pirates Prospects Podcast is up and available for download or streaming. P3 Episode 5: Polanco the Top Prospect? Can Pirates Keep Winning? Mark Melancon Interview. **Thanks to Tom Bragg (Runs Tough to Come By in Burnett Starts), James Santelli (Like the Pirates Pitching Staff? Thank Neal Huntington), and John Dreker (Who Pirates Draft and Who Fans Want, Might Not Be The Same) for taking over this column this weekend while I was taking a break. We might do something like that again down the line (sometimes it gets difficult coming up with something new each night), or we might have another daily article on the site that would allow other people to give their thoughts a little more often. **Top Performers: Stetson Allie Mashes His Way to the Top. **Top Performers: International Left-Handers Dominate the Pitcher Ranks This Week. **Pirates Roster Moves: Tabata, Morris Out; Harrison, Zagurski In; Karstens to 60-Day. **Draft Prospect Watch: Weekly Recap and Mock Drafts. **Prospect Watch: Poor Rehab Starts From Morton and McDonald. **Minor League Schedule: Glasnow Looks To Continue Amazing Run.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Keith Law Ranks Three Pirates Among Top 25 Prospects

Keith Law has unveiled a new top 25 prospect list for Insider subscribers and he has three Pittsburgh Pirates players listed. Cole retains his top spot in the Pirates system (Photo Credit: David Hague) Rated first among Pirates players is pitcher Gerrit Cole in the 12th spot. That is four spots down from his pre-season ranking. Law then has Jameson Taillon ranked #14, which is six...

Jeanmar Gomez, Jeff Locke, and unsustainable pitching

If you remember back to March, the Pirates' rotation was my biggest concern for 2013. That wasn't because of a lack of talent, because AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez and (to a lesser extent) James McDonald and Francisco Liriano provide the Pirates with as much starting pitching talent as they've had in a long time. It was because I was concerned about depth; even in spring...

Draft Watch: Latest Mock Draft Has A New Name For Pirates

Minor League Ball put out their second mock draft yesterday and they added a new name to the mix for the Pittsburgh Pirates, High School catcher Nick Ciuffo.  The backstop from South Carolina was called possibly the best all around catcher in this draft class. Matt Garrioch, who posted the mock draft, thinks he could get to the majors faster than any other catcher in the draft class...

Prospect Watch: West Virginia Wins Seventh Straight, Four For Fortunato

TOP OF THE SYSTEM A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. Rankings are from the pre-season rankings, and links to each prospect writeup can be...

Stetson Allie and Matt Hague Win Player of the Week Awards

Stetson Allie was named the SAL player of the week for the second time this season. Yesterday I posted the weekly top performers, with Stetson Allie and Matt Hague leading the group of hitters over the last week. Both players also led their individual leagues and were recognized with Player of the Week honors. Hague was named the International League player of the week after going...

Pittsburgh Pirates Place RHP Jose Contreras On Disabled List

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had to place veteran right-handed reliever Jose Contreras on the 15-day disabled list due to inflammation in his lower back. Contreras has struggled this season, with his health as well as the results on the mound as he has logged a total of 5 innings pitched while posting a 9.00 ERA. Given his age and injury issues the past few years, and given that it...

First Pitch: Jeanmar Gomez is the New Kevin Correia

I’m what you call a cord cutter. I don’t have cable or DirecTV. A few years ago I discovered that all of the shows I watch were either on Netflix, or on Hulu Plus the next day. And since I never watched shows the night they aired, the “next day” part of Hulu didn’t matter to me. So I was faced with paying $15 per month for Netflix and Hulu, or paying over $100 more per...

Walker’s Homer Breaks Stalemate, Pirates Beat Tigers 1-0

Before we get to the game’s pivotal moment, I should praise the work of Clint Hurdle to counteract my usual desire to bury him. Neil Walker hit 9-for-21 on the Pirates’ five-game road trip. (Photo Credit: David Hague) Eyebrows were raised when Hurdle removed Jeanmar Gomez with 73 pitches. Gomez had retired the last eight Detroit Tigers hitters, and looked primed to keep working...

Prospect Watch: Oliver and Glasnow Have Big Control Problems; Lots of Power in Indy

TOP OF THE SYSTEM A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. Rankings are from the pre-season rankings, and links to each prospect writeup can be...

Pirates 5, Brewers 4

The Pirates jumped out to an early lead and managed to hang on to it on Sunday afternoon as they completed a series win at Miller Park. They did it with production throughout lineup, including at the bottom. Michael McKenry and Jordy Mercer both took advantage of rare starts, combining to reach base six times with two extra base hits. Mercer’s 2nd inning triple drove home an early...

This is why the Pittsburgh Pirates have been so bad for the last 20 years

The Pittsburgh Pirates streak of consecutive losing seasons is long enough that it can legally drink a beer dahn at a bar in Pittsburgh’s Saathh Saaad. But 51 games into the regular season, the Bucs are 11 games over .500, good for third in the NL Central and their .608 winning percentage is third-best in the National League. It got me thinking about some of the players in the...

Minor League Schedule: McDonald and Morton Both Set For Rehab Starts

It will be an interesting day to watch the minor leagues, as two of the three teams playing today, have a Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher on rehab assignment. Charlie Morton will get the start for Indianapolis, while James McDonald begins his return with Altoona. Altoona has a noon start time. Bradenton has off today. For a look at the possible starters over the next few weeks...

Game 52: Pirates 1 Tigers 0

Despite my pre-game predictions of doom for both pitchers, Jeanmar Gomez and Rick Porcello both came out dealing after tonight's rain delay. Porcello absolutely dominated the Pirates in his eight innings, holding the Bucs to three hits and a walk while striking out 11 batters (quite a feat for him), getting nine groundouts to go with just two flyouts, and only needing 99 pitches...

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers – Game 52

You never want to lose a game in which you score five against the Tigers when Justin Verlander is starting.  Who to blame who to blame?  I lay most of it on Clint Hurdle of course, his management was typically questionable, but please spread it to the players. Josh Harrison getting picked off, anyone?  …

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Game 50

Pedro Alvarez was responsible for more runs than the Brewers yesterday.  Too bad this guy sits for Brandon Inge and his .560 OPS on a semi-regular basis. I mean, who needs a power bat in the lineup against righties at the home run haven Miller Park? There is a very real chance that if Pedro…
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.