May 9, 2013; Flushing, NY,USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Brandon Inge (2) grounds into a double play during the fourth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mets won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Something Needs to be Done about the Pirates' Bench

August 10, 2012: Pittsburgh, PA, USA: Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) on the bench during their game against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sports

Something needs to be done about the Pirates’ bench. This may seem obvious, but it has become more apparent in the past two series than it has been all season.

It was the second game of three against the A’s at PNC. Pedro Alvarez had already homered once in the game and had managed to get himself to second base (via a Martin sacrifice to third) and into scoring position with Pirates down one in the bottom of the seventh and one out. Gaby Sanchez steps to the plate to pinch-hit for Jones as lefty Sean Doolittle relieves A’s starting pitcher Dan Straily. Sanchez proceeds to strikeout looking on three pitches. Jordy Mercer ended the inning by popping up to first. The Pirates went on to lose the game 2-1.

With trade season right around the corner, this is the time of year general managers start to dissect their teams. The right moves can make or break the team. Without getting into too much trade speculation, it is pretty clear to me that the biggest need this team has is a reliable and proven bat that can come off the bench. No more trades for a Travis Snider or a Gaby Sanchez (who I will admit does have great numbers against LHP). It’s time for Huntington to go out and get a bat that he knows can help this team right now. Think about it. Do the Pirates have a single bat they can bring off the bench that fans can get exited about?

Out of the Pirates’ five (not counting the Jones/Sanchez platoon) true bench players of Inge (you’re going to want to follow that link), Barmes, McKenry, Snider, and Josh Harrison, the best triple slash belongs to Snider at a meager .223/.293/.330. Most of those hits came when he was still a starter in April anyway, and the same can be said about Barmes’ numbers. Why Brandon Inge is still on this team is anyone’s guess. “Clubhouse intangibles” can only go so far. Production on the field is what matters the most, and Inge’s numbers show he is almost worthless to this team in terms of wins. His oWAR is a pathetic -.7. That’s right. He is worth NEGATIVE wins to this team offensively. His dWAR isn’t much better at .2, and that is only because he hasn’t played enough games at defense to make enough errors to hurt his WAR. With Harrison back in the senior circuit, there is no need to keep Inge’s “versatile” glove on the bench anymore. Tony Sanchez, Alex Presley and Andrew Lambo are all viable options from AAA that can provide a more electric bat off of the bench. I don’t mean to single-out Inge. McKenry and Barmes have been no more effective at the plate, although the value Barmes’ glove brings is important to this team

The Pirates righted the ship with a win over the Mets on Friday, but the offense and bench still did not produce. The Buccos only runs during the regular nine innings came from this Pedro Alvarez no-doubter in the bottom of the first. Rumors point towards a trade for a right fielder, but as long as they make a move for a productive bench player, I will consider the trade a win.

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  • Samuel Riley

    preach it josh

  • Bodybuilding Weekly

    If we are really concerned about losing Inge’s leadership and locker room presence, how about making him a bench coach?

    • Josh

      He could definitely help Banister out. Not a bad idea. Just don’t know the rules on that/how many bench coaches you can have although I don’t really like Banister anyway I’d rather have Inge.

  • Andrew Goemaat

    It’s no secret that the bench is god awful, but I’d rather try using in-house guys instead of making a trade for a bench bat. The Pirates tried it the last two years with little to show for it. We need offensive production, but I think the team already has guys there to provide it.

    I vote to keep starting Tabata in right. He’s hit pretty well but more importantly, actually shows hustle and signs that he cares much more than he used to. And let’s face it, Travis Snider just isn’t very good. I know he was once a highly touted prospect, but that’s baseball. Guys just don’t work out sometimes and he’s one of them. Yeah, it’s a shame because he could have been a nice catch but the fact is he’s just a sub-par baseball player and Tabata has played well enough to take his spot.

    Snider is still an okay bench guy, but he isn’t enough. Honestly I’d prefer we trade him for a reliever that could float between AAA and the majors if necessary. I know I had my doubts about Sanchez a little while back, but I’ve come around after seeing him play and looking at the numbers more closely. Bring him. He’ll provide more pop than the Fort and honestly deserves a consistent chance. He’s 25 now and is hitting a solid .282 with 9 HRs. Why not?

    Lambo too, let’s bring him up. Dude is mashing in the minors and would be great to add some pop off the bench with some scattered RF starts too if he plays well. A little OF depth never hurt, after all.

    Ideally I’d love to see Sanchez, Lambo and Presley all get called up. Presley has played well in limited time and I’ve always thought he could help us out. Let’s cut the cord on Inge–the guy is rubbish. Let’s give Sanchez a chance over the Fort–what have we got to lose? Let Tabata start for a while and see how he does and then weigh the possibility of trading Snider and splitting RF with Tabata/Lambo/Presely potentially.

    The bench needs an extreme overhaul. We have internal pieces to do it, it’s just a matter of whether Huntington agrees.

  • Jay Wysocki

    I’d add Ivan DeJesus Jr who the Pirates picked up in the off-season to your list of AAA options to replace Inge. I’d actually like to see him get a chance at 2nd base instead of the Barmes/Mercer combo while Walker recovers. I like Harrison but he just hasn’t produced this season. Playing Barmes instead of Harrison just shows how little confidence the Pirates have in his skills.

    • Josh

      Totally forgot about him. Good spot. Definitely an option. The only thing with Harrison is that he is still relatively young and can play almost anywhere on the field.

  • Tj Streib

    Rumor has it the Pirates are making a run at Kendrys Morales (switch hitter batting .308 against LHP) and Nate Schierholtz (another lefty bat that can’t hit lefties – yay). Don’t know why Raul Ibanez’ name hasn’t come up. I hope they don’t go after Rios – he seems like a potential bust to me, especially at $13 M.

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