The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently wasting a roster spot by carrying a career journeyman that has spent more time in the minor leagues than at the MLB level.
This season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been ravaged with injuries. On Friday, Trevor Williams was placed on the injured list. With this move Williams became the 20th different Pirate player to spend time on the IL this season.
All of the injuries have caused the Pirates to have to dip deep into their minor league system at some positions. They have also had to add players from outside the organization. One of these players is utility infielder Jake Elmore.
Last month, Elmore was acquired from the Chicago White Sox and sent to Triple-A. This was the second time that Elmore, on paper at least, was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He spend part of the 2014-2015 offseason on the Pirate 40-man roster before being designated for assignment when the team added Jung Ho Kang via free agency.
Well, on Monday, the aforementioned Kang was placed on the 10-day IL with a muscle issue. This led to Elmore being recalled from Triple-A. However, his spot on the roster is being wasted.
Yes, Elmore was hitting the ball well for the Indianapolis Indians. His .380/.444/.546 slash line was mighty impressive, but there is a reason Elmore has 4,026 career MiLB plate appearances and just 489 career MLB plate appearances. Also, prior to being recalled, he had not appeared in a MLB game since October of 2016.
In his MLB career Elmore’s slash line is a less than inspiring .212/.292/.275 with a wRC+ of 58. This season, he is just 1-for-11 for the Pirates. Elmore’s defense has also been less than stellar in his week with the Bucs as he committed a near costly throwing error in Friday night’s victory. Luckily, starting pitcher Jordan Lyles would bail him out.
Instead of carrying Elmore as back up infielder with Kang injured, the nod should go to Kevin Kramer. The 25-year-old Kramer can play third base, shortstop, and second base, and is one of the team’s top hitting prospects.
Kramer is also swinging at hot bat at Triple-A. Kramer enters play on Saturday with a .284/.371/.441 slash line to go with a 112 wRC+ and an extra base hit rate of 10.3%. There is reason to believe Kramer could be not just a strong bench bat, put potentially a starter for the Pirates one day. This is a hell of a lot more upside and potential than Elmore brings to the table.
Worst of all, despite his shortcomings, Clint Hurdle started Elmore on both Thursday and Friday night in San Diego. This is simply wasting at bats. While it’s easy to understand Hurdle’s hesitancy to start Colin Moran against a left-handed pitcher, there was no reason for Elmore to get starts in either of those games over the hot hitting Kevin Newman. Newman would start on Friday, as he was at second base, but the team would have been better off playing Newman at third and Adam Frazier at second base in that game. Giving Moran an opportunity to try and improve against LHP would be a better option than starting Elmore, too.
Some of the decisions that the Pittsburgh Pirates brass has made in terms of roster construction in recent weeks have been mind boggling. Having Elmore on the team over Kramer is just the latest example of this. Elmore provides no upside for the Pirates and is not part of the long term plans. Kramer could provide upside while also being a big part of the team’s future. This is a roster swap that needs to happen and soon.