John McDonald didn’t garner a standing ovation from Pittsburgh Pirates fans when he was acquired last week. Perhaps it’s because we don’t remember the team losing games because their defense was awful. At no time, did we write, the Pirates simply can’t catch the ball! We never used the word butchers, nice hands feet, and we never screamed at the top of our lungs for someone to improve the teams defense.
We thought a few players like Ivan De Jesus, Jr or even Jordy Mercer would certainly be able to handle the role of utility player for the Bucs, but Pirates GM Neal Huntington and the gang felt differently. The Bucs depend heavily on strong pitching and preventing runs. McDonald will help the team continue in that pursuit with his arm and glove, it’s unknown whether he can pitch however.
We listened to the Neal Huntington radio show yesterday and when asked by Greg Brown how the acquisition of McDonald impacted the roster, Huntington said,
“it’s a shame for Jordy Mercer.”
It’s also a shame for Ivan De Jesus, Jr. and Josh Harrison. Huntington doesn’t think either player can match McDonald.
“Josh and Ivan have done some good things in camp,” Huntington said, “but they’re nowhere near the defensive ability of John McDonald.”
While we won’t miss Harrison, it’s another thing to say that about DeJesus, Jr. who was a player we thought could have handled the job. But when the Arizona Diamondbacks put McDonald on the market certainly the magic words were defense and veteran presence.
Those words mean a lot to the Pirates. There is no way they could say no. So let’s see what all the lack of buzz is about, let’s check out the 38-year old’s highlight videos. We quickly gathered a few for you.
We aren’t blown away, but it’s pretty fun to see him do work. We can’t imagine his range is the same, we can’t see his hitting improve with an arrival at PNC Park.
Let’s start with a dust up with World Champion third baseman Pablo Sandoval. In the video below you will see Sandoval tag McDonald, he’s pissed. Panda is pissed that McDonald elbowed him. Some words were exchanged and all hell breaks loose. Well not really, but you know–a baseball fight ensued.
McDonald made more starts at shortstop than he did since 2008. Some called the decision a hodge-podge patchwork defense after the injury to Stephen Drew. But checking out all of the posts on McDonald, it seems a lot of Diamondbacks fans enjoyed watching the defensive wizard.
The career high in bombs, six in lesss than 200 at-bats, lead to the highest OPS for McDonald since his 2000 season. The glove was the big reason for the 0.7 fWAR or 0.9 bWAR. All in all, it’s not much to pay for a backup, especially when we look at the amount of investment the Pirates have made on similar veteran players the past few years.
Last October, Kirk Gibson spoke about his double play combination–until the 50 second mark. We put this here mainly because Gibson doesn’t really gush about it, just acknowledges the good defense he has seen. Actuallly we don’t know why we put this here, don’t click it. Sorry. Gibson likes him. Move along.
Last September, this…
Last September, watch this double play…
Nice catch, but we don’t know about highlight worthy.
Good, good stuff here…
It continues with this nice pick…
Run it down Mac!
Of course, it’s not hard to find the defensive web gems for John McDonald. But six homers tied a career high. The veteran does pull homeruns toward left-field foul poles which is about the only way he will get a ball out of PNC Park.
But wait, we know some of you don’t go for this sliding into first base stuff. McDonald might not be such a cult hero in Pittsburgh after all if he keeps this up.
We don’t expect a whole lot from John McDonald. You shouldn’t either. It’s better to be surprised. I like surprises.