I like Jack Wilson. I like his defense. I like his hustle. I like seeing him turn double plays (my favorite play in baseball). So you may think that when I say the Pirates should extend Wilson, as I did a few weeks ago, I’m not being objective.
Well here is some objectivity. While Jack Wilson was out, Brian Bixler saw 26 plate appearances. In those plate appearances, Bixler struck ot 18 times. 18 times! His strikeout rate (.692) was higher than his OPS (.551) and almost even with his average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage combined. He saw just one walk during that span, and committed two errors.
A lot of the shortstop options in the system are several years away. Jarek Cunningham is out for the season in his first year in the pros. Brian Friday is doing well this year, but is only at AA, with just 26 at bats above high A ball. Last year’s third and fourth round picks, Jordy Mercer and Chase D’Arnaud, are both in A ball. Maybe Friday tears it up this season, enough to warrant a call-up next season. However, if that doesn’t happen, we could be waiting until 2011 or 2012.
Having Wilson around for an extra year or two certainly wouldn’t hurt. If he’s signed to a reasonable deal, he may even be traded if someone like Friday does emerge as a major league ready player. Bixler is 26 years old, and this recent performance shows that he needs a ton of seasoning in the minors, that is, if he’s not a lost cause already.
It will be nice to see Wilson back on the field tomorrow, even if the only reason is that the Pirates will see two or three fewer strikeouts on offense.
The MVP Tracker
It seems kind of pointless to have an MVP Tracker when it feels like the team will never win again. It’s like having a Speed award in a turtle race. Sure, someone is going to be the best for the award, but what does that really say?
Anyways, here’s the damage from the last three games:
Friday: Negative points for Jeff Karstens, Tyler Yates, Sean Burnett, and Brandon Moss
Saturday: Negative points for Paul Maholm, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Brandon Moss, and Adam LaRoche
Sunday: Negative points for John Grabow, Eric Hinske, Andy LaRoche, Brian Bixler, and Adam LaRoche
-With Wilson returning from the DL tomorrow, and Brian Bixler expected to be sent down, the 25-Man roster has been updated.
-Looking at some of those notes, it’s obvious that the biggest area of need is the bullpen. Jesse Chavez is doing great, and is the only pitcher I’d trust with a lead right now. Sean Burnett is doing pretty good, with a few rough outings. Evan Meek and Donald Veal are walking way too many. You can’t do much with John Grabow but hope he reverts to his 2008 success. At this point I’d look to replace Tyler Yates, who has allowed ten earned runs in 10.1 innings pitched, with 7 walks and 9 strikeouts.
-I also wouldn’t mind seeing Jeff Karstens get replaced. He’s the only starter I don’t trust to have a shot at a quality start. Unfortunately, Phil Dumatrait is suffering some shoulder soreness in extended Spring Training, and had a start pushed back. Daniel McCutchen would be an interesting call-up. McCutchen has a 3.76 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched, with 27 strikeouts and 13 walks. His only poor start of the year was on April 27th at Louisville, where he allowed five runs in 5.2 innings. Without that start he has a 2.61 ERA and a 24:12 K/BB ratio in 20.2 innings pitched.