Pittsburgh Pirates fans will be sick of hearing the word platoon by the time opening day rolls around in 109 days. The Pirates have been believed to be working on a platoon for right field, so we figured we better get this out of the way earlier.
This week, Matt Diaz has been linked to the Pirates and is believed to be locked up dependent on a physical. During his career, Matt Diaz has mainly been a left fielder where he played 363 games, but he has played right field in 80 games making 63 starts. In a true platoon, Diaz would play about one third of the time based on the fact the Bucs simply won’t see that many many left handers.
One scenario is a platoon with Garrett Jones. Jones has played 88 games in right field during his career. We have personally heard Jones say he is most comfortable as a first baseman.
So we could be sick of hearing about this platoon concept by opening day, but here are a few things to consider about it:
1. GFJ doesn’t appear to be the most confident player after watching some of his frustration at the plate last year, what will his reaction be to moving to the outfield and how will not being an everday player impact him?
2. Does being in a platoon devalue Garrett Jones?
3. Most players feel they should play everyday. So whether it’s Diaz and Jones, Diaz and Bowker, Diaz and Doumit, whatever the combination turns out to be, how will Clint Hurdle sell this platoon conecpt to his players in RF?
4. Clint Hurdle hasn’t exactly embraced the idea of a platoon in the past. We’re curious to hear him discuss it.
5. On paper it’s easy to see the Pirates offense improving from this platoon scenario, but how much will the defense suffer by Diaz learning the position at PNC Park? The offense could see All-Star like production if the platoon combination of Diaz and Jones produces like it should—hell, a .300/.360/.500 line with 30 bombs is certainly very reasonable to forsee and would trump the defensive shortcomings.
6. Diaz should get a badge of courage for turning down the Dodgers (Jayson Stark said) and telling the media Clint Hurdle is the real deal. Diaz is a smart veteran, and has already worked the boss for more playing time which is something he could never get in Atlanta.
7. As it stands today, we are curious if Diaz gets the feeling he can play everyday for the Pirates. We have to think he does. Now was he given that idea by someone or did he come up with it on his own?
8. Is there any possible way that the value of all of the players involved in this situtation can rise? It certainly would be welcome in Pittsburgh where the value of several players has taken a hit during recent seasons.
9. Will having two players for one position impact the number of relievers in the bullpen? Dave Cameron has an article that arrives at the tentative conclusion that there is value to platooning your relievers that is not found in platooning your hitters.
10. If this concept proves true that Pirates hitters will perform at a level nearly 10 percent below their true talent level when being used as a pinch hitter, how much will let’s say Diaz and Jones be devalued as Kameron writes: ‘in high leverage situations in a way that is tough to counter. Even if you pinch hit for the left-handed half of your platoon when the opposing manager brings in a LOOGY, you’re still at a disadvantage, because your right-handed bat now has to overcome the penalty of inactivity.’
11. Diaz has never caught as a pro, but he came up as a catcher, does being an emergency catcher have any value to the Bucs at all other than comedy relief? So easy a caveman can do it?
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