How Do The Pirates Fix their Infield Problems?
Ugh, Neal? Maybe you should look at this shit. Not that up there, over here. The month of May has been especially brutal for the Pirates infield. Actually one could say most of the season has been brutal for the Bucs infield both offensively and defensively.
A quick look by the casual Pirates fan sees Aki Iwamura hitting .187. Ronny Cedeno is at .238. Heh, look at Andy LaRoche, he is killing it…he has a .307 average, Garrett Jones a .239. Jeff Clement a .177 and in his short stint with the Bucs Steve Pearce is slugging at a .111 clip. New Pirate Bobby Crosby checks in with a .262.
But a closer look would surely offer some answers wouldn’t it? It would provide a breakthrough that explains it all. Well yes, yes it would.
Aki Iwamura, Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Clement, and Steve Pearce have no extra base hits this month. The Pirates infielders have left 42 teammates on base in the past seven games. One Pittsburgh Pirate infielder, Garrett Jones, who is actually a part timer in the infield, is the only player with more than five extra base hits on the season.
Hell, Aki has just one extra base hit since April 13. He is 2-for-24 in the month of May an .083 average. Aki has five extra base hits this year. His fielding and baserunning are well below league average. It’s blatantly obvious, something is hurting and we aren’t talking about Akis impact on the Pirates offense.
Andy LaRoche is 8-for-31 in the month of May. He has three walks, five runs, a double and a homer. He is slugging .387 in May. But LaRoche also has just five extra base hits all season. So just how solid is that .307 (.343BABIP) average, is it a little hollow now that we have some data to pour through?
LaRoche is the highlight of this infield. Hands down. But his defense and baserunning have been average. He will have a spectacular moment, and then he will leave you shaking your head like he did to Paul Maholm Sunday. His current ultimate zone rating is 1.4, he finished at a 5.4 last season.
Ronny Cedeno has five extra base hits all season. He does have eight hits in the seven games this month, so we should back of Cedeno a little bit. He is improving after an April when he had just 16 hits and hit .208. He has struckout 24 times this season while walking twice.
The Jeff Clement experiment had a hypothesis, but is still waiting a conclusion. Everyone this side of Mars understands that his power is worth a look, but for how long do we watch? A new swing has been developed after he has struckout 25 times to eek out Cedeno for the team lead. He has five walks and is hitting .177 thanks to five extra base hits.
Steve Pearce tore up AAA and has played just four games for the Bucs since coming up. He is 1-for-9 with no extra base hits and one walk. That’s a .111 slugging for those of you scoring at home.
Bobby Crosby has the look, but just two doubles and a homerun this season.
Thankfully, Garrett Jones is 4-for-9 as the Pirates first baseman this month. In April, he hit .207 and slugged .378. He has looked much better lately both at the plate and in the field, but hasn’t homered in two weeks and has four all season after having three in the first two games. Jones has raised his average to .239 and slugging to .413. We knew Jones would struggle to match the huge freaking numbers from last year, but holy hell.
The Pirates hollow offensive production is obvious, the lackluster defense only compounds the problems. Delwyn Young is 4-for-6 this month, but his glove seems to have pushed him into a semi-permanent pinch hitter role.
On the Neal Huntington show yesterday, he discussed Neil Walker. Check us out on Twitter, we have the quotes on our feed. The bottom line was this. He said Greg Brown caught him in an emotional moment when he said that Steve Pearce was “light years” ahead of where Neil Walker is. Hmmm. He then said, the Pirates aren’t all about performance. We can tell Neal, we can tell. (No, actually that’s just not a fair statement, but you have to admit, it’s funny.)
But finally, and most importantly, Neal Huntington said, if “you’re looking for someone to blame, blame him.” Well actually Neal Huntington, we aren’t looking to blame anyone for anything.
We simply what everyone in this city wants, better production from the Pittsburgh Pirates. We want them to stay relevant for a little bit longer. Ride out this wave of luck, push harder than the other teams in the league, and out work the other teams since the talent level doesn’t match up. But most importantly, we are looking forward to the time when the young talent at AAA pushes aside those who failed in their opportunity to be a productive member of this franchise.
Snap back to reality. Sorry about that. Here is the question: Strikeouts are up. Production and patience at the plate is down. So what’s the answer RumBunter faithful?