Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 6/18/12

After almost two months of watching Clint Barmes‘ unbearably awful struggles at the plate, Pirate fans were very happy to see shortstop prospect Jordy Mercer called up from Indianapolis at the end of May. Mercer wasn’t/isn’t exactly an eye-popping prospect, but had steadily moved through the system and had been hitting the ball very well at the time in Indianapolis.

It seemed like a no brainer at the time. Surely Barmes (and his 2 year/$10 million contract) wasn’t going to go away, but since he was struggling so mightily, why not see what Mercer can do for a while?  It seemed pretty clear that he would get a look:

I can further tell you that, once Jordy Mercer arrives, he won’t be sitting on the bench. Clint Barmes will. For now, anyway. #Pirates

— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) May 29, 2012

Indeed, Mercer got two starts in a row after he was called up. He went 1-for-8 with a walk and did fine in the field. That was Clint Hurdle’s “two day rest” for Barmes, who was back in the lineup the next night. Clint went hitless, but then had a big game the next day in Milwaukee and had three hits in the game after that at Cincinnati. OK, so maybe the little hiatus worked and Barmes found his swing again.

Not so much. Since the three-hit night in Cincy, Barmes has hit .176 with one walk and one double, starting every game except for Saturday–and Josh Harrison got the start on Saturday, not Mercer. Ever since the two consecutive starts, Mercer has made a grand total of one plate appearance–a walk against Kansas City on June 9th.

Cue Neal Huntington, just before Mercer was called up:

Jordy’s doing a nice job for us, but at the same time, you don’t want Jordy coming up here and not playing a whole bunch for us.”

Well Neal, it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening here. Not only that, but the guy that’s keeping him off the field is probably the worst offensive regular in all of baseball.

I (and I’m sure most of you) would love to see Mercer in there every day instead of Barmes, but it’s somewhat understandable (although very frustrating of course) that the Pirates don’t want to give up on him because of their investment and his track record. But if they’re going to do that, why not just send Mercer back to the minors where he can play every day? Huntington himself stated that he wanted to stay away from a situation like this, so I’m thinking there’s a clear disconnect here between him and Clint Hurdle (who we all know loves Barmes).

Again, Mercer isn’t the most intriguing prospect around, but he’s too intriguing to get the Pedro Ciriaco treatment. Either give the kid a chance or send him back to play every day and work some things in Indianapolis. Heck, he could even be replaced with a bench bat they’d actually use (Jeff Clement?) or another bullpen arm, or a starter like Rudy Owens that would push Brad Lincoln back to the bullpen. Now, it should be noted that Mercer will probably get a few more pinch-hit chances now that the Bucs are done using a DH for the year, but one of the above options would still be more useful if he’s just going to sit around most of the time.

This whole situation makes me scratch my head. Maybe the Pirates don’t think as highly of Mercer as I do (and I understand he’s not likely to be the savior at short), but again, let the kid develop some more if you don’t like him all that much. He’s only 25.  And of course, it’s hard to justify continuing to play Barmes, who hasn’t really improved much at all. I realize he’s being paid much more, but Alex Presley was demoted after struggling. Nate McLouth was DFA’d. I’m not asking the Pirates to punt on a $10M investment yet, but would it really be that bad to sit Barmes for a week?  Clint Hurdle’s loyalty to his shortstop is getting a little ridiculous.

Photo: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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