The Pirates have lost two consecutive games to sub-.500 teams in which a key play was their right fielder making an awful defensive play. On Sunday, Garrett Jones air-mailed a throw that turned a routine single into a run-scoring triple. Last night, Josh Harrison turned a deep flyball that might've been a tough play but should've been an out into a rally-extending double. On Sunday, Jones's error (along with Pedro Alvarez's, let's give credit where it's due) keyed the Brewers rally. Last night, Harrison's misplay resulted in at least one run and maybe two in what turned out to be a one-run game.
Early in the season, having infielders in the outfield was a necessary evil; the Pirates weren't hitting at all and Alex Presley and Jose Tabata were prime culprits. Putting Harrison in the outfield or getting both Jones and McGehee in the lineup at the same time occasionally provided a much-needed boost while other guys figured things out and the Pirates waited on Starling Marte to adjust to Triple-A pitching. In June, Marte hit .325/.385/.558 with six doubles, five triples, and four homers. The Pirates said they wanted him to get more seasoning and to get used to the corner outfield spots. Given his plate discipline problems, that's understandable even if it's difficult to stomach for fans in a pennant race. The Pirates always have to give consideration to the future: at the trade deadline, with prospects, always.
Marte's responded by hitting .333/.414/.667 with two doubles, two triples, and three more homers in 13 July games. His strikeouts are still high, but his walk rate has been creeping up. He's obviously hitting everything hard and after hitting .276 in April and .236 in May, the pitchers aren't fooling him the same way. I think he'll have stretches where he struggles at the plate, but I doubt he'll struggle moreso than Josh Harrison has lately and it's a virtual guarantee that Marte will get to more balls and make better throws than guys like Jones and Harrison in the outfield.
I get that the Pirates have their own process. I respect that. But it's getting increasingly harder to think that calling Marte up now would damage him in any way, and it's obvious there's a role for him on the Pirates. There's actually more than a role for him; there's a glaring need. I get that Marte will be up with the Pirates soon, it's just that at this point I think I'd rather that instead of "very soon" it was "yesterday."
IMO Marte should be brought up ONLY when it's clear he's ready. NOT because the Bucs have a need in the outfield. Marte still needs to work on plate discipline and learning how to not chase the junk out of the zone, and he'll not likely learn that in the bigs. In the big picture,we have to look at him as a potnetial superstar, and evrything the Bucs do should be geared towards grooming him for that; not "filling a need short term" .
Now if he had a big time OPS and was dominating triple A ? Call him up right now. But that ain't happening. Yet.
I don't understand why everyone is so bent on Justin Upton. I don't like him and don't want him. And you are willing to give up Marte. To me Upton is damaged goods. He has a bum shoulder and don't tell me that isn't affecting his swing. I would personally prefer to get Carlos Quentin. He only has 7 homers but he plays in Death Valley--Petco Park.
Man, what happened to the days when you could hide your most unathletic molasses slow player in RF? I'm glad I'm not growing up today or I would never have gotten a chance to be a starting OFer for the juggernaut Carnegie Cubs.
@Carnegie Chip I feel your pain, why I remember...
"Coach, is this deep enough?"
"Just back a little farther, Kortas."
"Coach, I'm three rows deep into the cornfield."
"A few more steps deeper, son..."
In any case, I'm not all that surprised given the established conservative timetable the front office always (understandably) has, whether it's promoting guys from AAA or cutting deadweight in the form of veteran scrapheap signings that didn't work out.
Maybe they think they can land Upton without giving up Marte and would prefer not to bring up Marte this soon in a pennant race. (This assumes as well that he wouldn't supplant Presley in LF). It does seem like a scenario with a lot of "maybes," and all to prevent the seemingly fairly mild inconvenience of being called up for two weeks only to be sent back down to AAA.
2 things - Marte is likely being held back because his value could be - could be - diminished if he is brought up and generally flops, i.e., Aramis Ramirez, over the next three weeks. If he is the focal point of an Upton deal (or any other highline player), you do not want to risk diminishing his perceived value. It's a classic Devil you know being better than the devil you don't...we know he can kill in AAA...if that's his high water mark, negotiate based upon this.
The 2nd thing - they're probably not going to call him up whilst the team is on the road. He will make his debut at home(and yes, this is a total reverse jinx sentiment).
@JMC420 I forgot that the home/road thing was a thing. As far as his first two weeks affecting his trade value...I find it hard to believe that GMs would put any stock at all in to how a prospect performs in that short of a time span. I just don't see how it would be meaningful at all.
@Operation Shutdown And let me just add one more thing - there's an article out there by Morosi of Fox Sports in which the following piece of info is provided (Link: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/pittsburgh-pirates-joey-votto-cincinnati-reds-zack-greinke-milwaukee-brewers-071612):
Marte, 23, and Taillon, 20, are well-regarded prospects, but let’s be honest: We’re not talking about the next Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. Marte is roughly one year younger than Upton and has yet to spend a day in the big leagues. Taillon, the same age Kershaw was at the time of his big league debut, has a 4.43 ERA this season at high Class A.
This might well be Morosi speaking for himself or it might well be him repeating/paraphrasing something someone in the D-backs camp stated to him about the negotiations. This line of reasoning is, at best, specious. But it should underline my point about how anything and everything will be used to create a better return for one party...
@Operation Shutdown I'm not saying a GM would put stock in it after the player has been acquired, but prior to acquisition - anything and everything matters. Again, it's a negotiation in which both sides are trying to get the best possible deal for their respective parties and anything that can create leverage, perceived or real, will be used to achieve that end. Marte coming up and looking generally lost will absolutely be used by opposing GM's in trade negotiations to reduce his value and increase their return - in terms of volume or quality...anyway...just my two cents. This assumes of course that the Pirates WANT/NEED to make a deal.
MY preference is bring the kid up now, yesterday. I'm not big on Upton and I think the bucs are being used here to drive up the asking price on Upton in hopes a team with an, arguably, better farm system comes along and drops a Texeira type deal on them (Jays?). Additionally, I see deals being easier to get done after July 31st, when the posers have been weeded out and their assets go up on the market...
The first thing I look for when the lineup is posted is Jones position on defense. If a see a nine next to his name, I shudder. Last night, I was initially happy, but that is only because I forgot how bad Harrison can be out there. If the Bucs are going to keep putting people in RF who play the position like Doumit, let me know now. I'll just pull back inside my protective shell and watch the games from a safe remove, like I've done for the better part of two decades. But I would rather they just play someone in right who doesn't give the other opposition runs in close games while the team is contending for the division.