Kovacevic: Will GM ever address Pirates' hitting?
TribLIVE Sports Videos
DETROIT — Give it up for these Pirates. They've got to be the only team in Major League Baseball that strikes out 15 times against a pitcher with a 6.29 ERA — all swinging! — and still somehow stays in the game. At least until they bury themselves with a booted blooper, a passed ball and yet another strikeout by Pedro Alvarez, the day's designated oxymoron.
Tigers 4, Pirates 3.
Not an easy team to love, is it?
Or to believe in.
And yet, I couldn't help but take seriously something Andrew McCutchen was saying earlier Sunday at Comerica Park: “Look at what we've done so far without really having our offense yet. We know the pitching's going to be there. If we can get the offense going, even just a little, we'll be unstoppable.”
I wouldn't go that far. But thanks almost entirely to McCutchen's tour de force and one of baseball's best pitching staffs, the Pirates are 19-22. That's respectable, if not riveting, and it's just 3 games off the Central Division lead.
Anyone else think that at least a foundation is there?
Not for the future. Right now.
Here's an amazing figure: When the Pirates score as many as two measly runs, they're 18-9.
“We've already got the most important thing,” catcher Rod Barajas said. “If you have that pitching — and we do — then you've got a chance to win every single day. Remember the Giants a couple years ago? They won it all with their pitching. If we can hit just enough, we've got a chance.”
I wonder if the Pirates' management sees the same thing.
So far, based on the lack of any response to the worst offense in all of professional baseball — majors or minors, all the way down to A-ball — it's hard to say they do.
Here's the full list of moves made this season by Neal Huntington and the front office to address the offense: Gorkys Hernandez, a toothpick of a bat in the minors, was recalled for this series. That's it. (He then sat all weekend while Nate McLouth's latest futility streak reached 19 at-bats and should have him in peril of being cut.)
You already know this is a terrible hitting team, obviously excluding McCutchen.
But did you know it's a terrible hitting organization?
The Triple-A Indianapolis affiliate is fresh off an astounding week in which the offense scored — wait for it — one run over six games. Not much hope there. On that roster, only outfielder Starling Marte could be called a legit everyday prospect among hitters.
It isn't any better at Double-A Altoona, where the only prospects in that category are outfielder Robbie Grossman and catcher Tony Sanchez, both currently below .250.
Help is desperately needed.
But it sure doesn't sound like it's coming.
Huntington has cited a litany of reasons why he is unable to upgrade the offense, and he reiterated some yesterday on his weekly radio show: Few trades are made in May. Two wild cards mean fewer sellers. The offers are lopsided. The Pirates don't want to give up pitching. They don't want to part with elite prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.
So, the hitting will wait until … what, 2014, 2015?
Consider this painful truth: McCutchen and Neil Walker, the Pirates' only regulars batting above .235, were acquired by Dave Littlefield. So was Marte.
What exactly do the Pirates have to show offensively for five years of Huntington's many moves that include $31 million on free-agent position players and $51 million on drafts?
The answer: Alvarez at the Mendoza Line, a handful of others keeping him company and a whole lot of crossed fingers.
That's not just disturbing for this year but for years to come.
Something must be done, and this is as good a time as any. The pitching won't get much better when Cole and Taillon arrive than the current 3.36 ERA that's No. 5 in the majors.
Claim guys off waivers.
Collect more minor league scrap like infielder Drew Sutton, added last night.
Hey, conduct open tryouts!
Better yet, be bold: I wouldn't push for a trade of Cole or Taillon, but I wouldn't rule it out, either. And I sure wouldn't worry about the top two levels. The Pirates will be seven starters deep once Jeff Karstens returns. In Indy, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson and Jeff Locke — promoted yesterday on an emergency basis — are banging down the door. That's plenty enough to trade without pain.
Look, I believe Huntington that a trade would be tough. But I've also believed him the many times he's said pitching is the most valuable commodity in the industry, especially prospects.
Is he offering enough?
Eight days ago, also on the radio show, Huntington said, “It's not like we're not trying.”
Sports is about results. And right now, the only acceptable result is to support McCutchen and this fine pitching staff by adding some bats.
They're laughably overdue.
Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Rutherford falling apart, too
- Rangers clip Penguins, take 2-1 series lead
- Cubs’ rookie third baseman Bryant helps send Pirates to defeat
- Brentwood Borough School Board approves major cutbacks
- Steelers receiver Brown skipping voluntary offseason workouts
- Scoring struggles linger for Penguins 2nd line
- Pew Research Center poll shows most Americans take gun rights over control
- Pittsburgh man taken for wild ride on Route 28
- Trade Institute of Pittsburgh helps rebuild lives of ex-convicts
- Feud escalates between Westmoreland commissioner, controller
- Interior linemen replace flash with experience for this year’s NFL Draft