Pirates fans have been frustrated with Clint Barmes for a long time. Defensively, Barmes is one of the best shortstops in the game. Offensively, Barmes has been putrid in his time as a Pirate. In 2013, Barmes holds a triple slash of .198/.231/.265. Barmes contract is up after this season, and unless he signs for a pack of big league chew, rather than something like the deal Pirates originally gave him (10.5 million dollars over two years), it’s unlikely that his career will continue in the steel city.
The Pirates have the luxury of having another shortstop not named John McDonald on the team right now, and although he has been getting more playing time lately, it’s time for Jordy Mercer to become the Pirates everyday shortstop. Comparing his triple slash to Barmes’, Mercer posts a triple slash of .289/.312/.489, and even has one more home run than Barmes (three, to Barmes’ two).
It’s pretty obvious at this point that as a defensive shortstop, Barmes is currently superior to Mercer. He has better range, is more consistent, and has a better mental grasp of the position. The issue that arises here is that for Mercer to improve defensively as a shortstop, he has to play there more often. You can practice all you want, but nothing works towards improvement as an athlete better than game reps.
Mercer is signed through 2019, while Barmes is only signed through the end of this year. Mercer would be a step back defensively from Barmes, but with the skill he provides as a hitter combined with the value of using these games to groom him defensively, it would be best at this point for the Pirates to start Mercer at shortstop.
Given the fact that Mercer is already far more effective with the bat than Barmes, and will be the Pirates long-term starting shortstop barring injuries, trades, etc. why would the Pirates continue to start Barmes? Thankfully Mercer has been getting more playing time of late, but it doesn’t seem the Pirates are ready to hand over the keys to him just yet. Barmes has shown what he can provide to the Pirates, and it’s not enough.
If Clint Hurdle and company are serious about changing the culture of losing with the Pirates, the first thing they must do is bench Barmes in favor of Mercer. Winning must take precedent over everything else for the Pirates right now, and Mercer can provide that better than any other option the Pirates currently have available at shortstop. Now, when can we cut Brandon Inge?