I got up Saturday morning and went to work. The first stop was to check in on some of the younger guys. I hate it when they beat me to work. They had been there at least thirty minutes already. Impressive stuff for guys that are 21 to 23 years old. It was 7:15am.
As I left to head down to my real job, the one whippersnapper said, “Don’t worry Mr. Smith we will make you proud!” I turned on the windshield wipers and smiled. God I am old I thought. Some guy just called me Mr. Smith? What the hell kinda shit is that?
Anyway, I got to thinking about how good it felt seeing those guys making magic happen. I also thought I was past my prime, because I used to do their job. They are better than I was.
I wonder if some of the Pirates outfielders feel like that? I mean have you watched Ryan Church lately? He has ten hits in his last 62 at-bats. He hit homers on consecutive days in early May. Since May 6, Church has five hits in 47 at-bats and has walked three times. His production sucks.
How about inserting Jose Tabata into this lineup? His stats from AAA show me several reasons why he would help the Pirates.
Mr. Church it’s time for a seat on the pine. I can hear Tabata telling Church, ”But don’t worry Mr. Church we will make you proud!” Especially considering how well Tabata has done in the leadoff role at AAA Indianapolis. In his last 65 at bats, unlike Mr. Church, Jose has 19 hits. He has scored 12 runs. He also has six doubles, six walks and seven RBI.
Mr. Milledge it’s time to take a few days off. “But don’t worry, you’re not that old, we have faith you will be back!” The hollowness in Milledge’s statistics are similar to those of Tabata. But Milledge doesn’t steal bases (4SB, 2CS.) While Tabata’s OPS of .763 in 2009 and .793 in 2010 aren’t sparkling, I feel he can grow those numbers at the big league level.
Milledge has hit well with runners in scoring position, but that number is surely to regress. Tabata has also hit well with runners on with a .868 OPS and with RISP he has an .808 OPS. Of course those numbers are important for a leadoff man, Andrew McCutchen had an .836OPS last season.
McCutchen has improved at the major league level after an extended stay in AAA. Neal Huntington isn’t going to call a player to the majors unless they are ready. He is certainly known to overcook his talent. But it’s hard to doubt his reasoning. Look at McCutchen what he’s accomplished since his debut, this is from a story on the Pirates website:
McCutchen entered Friday having played in 160 games, more than any Major League outfielder since his debut, and he has recorded 185 hits, the second most in franchise history through 160 games. (In 1933, Arky Vaughan had 191 hits through his first 160 games.)
Having watched Tabata, I agree with Huntington that he appears to be a player that will grow his slugging number as he matures. He is built like an NFL safety. Tabata could also chase those numbers Cutch is putting up as well. It’s very hard to judge what a player will do at the major league level, but mark me down for it anyway.
I have to think a few of you have pissed off the neighbors after watching Milledge run the bases. Screaming at the top of your lungs typically doesn’t make you very many friends. Milledge’s defense is average at best, he has improved greatly, but a few more outs would be nice. Rocco Demaro compared one of his plays to a softball player. That’s never good. Tabata will improve the Pirates defense with his speed and plus arm despite what Total Zone Fielding shows him to be.
Tabata’s numbers don’t strike me as off the charts, but this club needs base runners. A modified small ball could win the team a few games. Tabata has 21 steals this year. In 348 AAA at bats he has 103 hits. He hasn’t walked as much as one would like to see, but it seems to be improving. He has 28 free passes in 348 AAA at-bats. This year, 12 of his 16 walks came with nobody on base. Tabata creates offensive situations for his teammates.
Call Tabata’s average hollow because it sure does look that way, his BABIP seems slightly high, but nonetheless, Tabata deserves a call. The Pirates face some outstanding pitchers in this month of June, but the opposition is a combined 21 games under .500. I feel like the Pirates with Tabata in the lineup would score more runs and take a few of these games.
The Bucs have played quite well when leading through six innings. When this bullpen is given a lead, it’s been frankly, lights out. Tabata gives this team a better chance at winning simply by being on the bases. While I believe another few months in AAA wouldn’t hurt him, it isn’t needed.
He’s built solid enough, 5’11″ 210, that he has shown that he will hit some balls into the gap and be on second with nobody out in the first inning. His splits show he produces very well early in games at AAA too which the Pirates need. Tabata has scored 286 runs in his six years in baseball while posting a .352 OBP in his time at AAA.
The kid needs a break. It’s Tabata time. Tabata is stronger, faster, and better than what the Pirates are putting on the field curently (some will say that’s not very hard.) The die hard Pirates faithful might not agree with me or my reasoning. That’s because they probably haven’t watched this kid play ball.
The Pirates formula for success seems to be this: grab an early lead; turn it over to the bullpen;, raise the jolly roger. Tabata gives the Pirates the best way to repeat that cycle. He is simply better than the current outfielders. His upside is very high and he has shown the Pirates brass all they need to see, he will get better and I got a gut feeling he is going to be one of the first guys at work in the morning too.