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?

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

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.