Obviously the Pirates offense will improve when Ke’Bryan Hayes returns to action, I mean that would be rather hard to dispute, but we also shouldn’t pretend it fixes everything.
The best thing he does to the lineup beside his own addition might be the subtraction of Todd Frazier. I used to pretend there was an actual choice between Todd and Wilmer Difo, but c’mon, the name alone isn’t going to keep him here. He’s had one hit in 27 at bats, an average of .037, and I still hear more people wanting to cut Ka’ai Tom first.
I’d cut Frazier today and not lose a wink of sleep. Could Will Craig be worse? Lord knows he hasn’t had the same opportunity afforded him what with his total of 4 MLB at bats. I mean Anthony Alford had 2 hits in 24 at bats for an .083 average and he was DFA’d. Dustin Fowler had 41 at bats with 7 hits for a .171 average and he too was cut loose.
A veteran is nice to have, but a veteran who clearly can’t play third anymore, can hold his own at the totally held down position of first base but isn’t hitting can’t help. In fact, I don’t like the message keeping him around sends to the young players who have just seen guys like them are going to get less patience.
Hayes returning will bring an end to seeing Erik Gonzalez hit in the 3 or 4 hole. Maybe that’s the best thing he’ll bring.
I don’t expect this to be a strong lineup, never did. So I’m not looking to find a way to turn them into something this season, but that doesn’t mean we should just sit here and watch guys not contribute in any measurable way. The Indianapolis roster has become basically a receptacle for storing prospects who never were, and veterans who might be needed. Real prospects are from Altoona down with a few exceptions.
Travis Swaggerty, Chris Sharpe, Cole Tucker in the field and then of course some pitching. What about Troy Stokes Jr? Wouldn’t he be a better choice than Todd Frazier? The team needs outfielders and Phillip Evans who also isn’t hitting anymore can handle everything Frazier does, in fact, that’s why he made the damn team in the first place right?
Defense isn’t always just about making errors, sometimes it’s about what you can’t do. Yesterday you could have watched the game and thought, Frazier did fine over there at 3rd, and he certainly did better than you would, or I would, but when you lack the range to get to a routine grounder and it forces your rangy short stop to have to cover an extra 10 feet to his right and even his cannon of an arm can’t make up for it, that’s an issue that just doesn’t need to exist. Evans makes that play, Frazier doesn’t.
Conversely Evans drops a ball out in right field yesterday and laid back on a very catchable ball allowing it to drop for a single. Compounding the self created single he throws to home instead of the cutoff man allowing the runner to take 2nd. Stokes makes all of those plays. Again, I don’t blame Evans for this, and it doesn’t mean he stinks as a player. He has value as a very good utility infielder who can fill in on occasion in the outfield. The team needs him to play out there and he accepted the challenge. If they leave him out there and train him, let him get planted, I have no doubt he would get better, he’s an athlete and overall good fielder, but right now, it’s being forced to accommodate getting at bats for a guy who clearly isn’t going to help this club.
Do I think Craig or Kramer or Stokes or whoever you might want to discuss makes this club measurably better? No, but I do think there comes a point where you have to acknowledge if you aren’t going to hit, you better field.
With as many times as this club has tried to catch lightning in a bottle this season, why not try to catch some from guys the past regime failed to develop? Aren’t they eventually going to have to be cut loose to make room for players like Mason Martin or Rodolfo Castro anyway? Maybe they come up here for a couple weeks and show you something. If they don’t, oh well, there goes some ‘depth’ you were never going to use anyhow.
Maybe 40+ at bats is the magic number, but let’s be honest, Todd Frazier would have to absolutely catch fire to even catch up to what Fowler did in his stint and many of you were mad he even cleared waivers.
This team at this stage doesn’t have enough to be a winner. Nor should it, they’re at the beginning of a rebuild, but they have options that won’t embarrass the team, maybe it’s time to use them.