First Pitch: Alen Hanson and the Future of the Pirates Infield

Today we wrote about how Alen Hanson was moved to second base by the Pirates. Hanson┬áhas played second base before in the lower levels, but hasn’t been at the position for the last few years, and hasn’t been there in Altoona. He made his first start there tonight. One of the issues he was having at shortstop were defensive lapses, where he would make errors on routine plays.

Hanson had a throwing error in his first game at second base, although reviewing the play, it probably shouldn’t have been an error. The ball was hit up the middle, and Hanson ranged to his right, made a backhanded stop, turned and jumped to make the throw, with his momentum carrying him away from first, and the throw just pulled Stetson Allie off the bag. A guy with less range lets the play go through for a single. If Hanson holds on to the ball, and lets his momentum carry him away, it goes for a single. If Hanson doesn’t rush the throw, he’s got no shot at the runner, and it goes for a single. I might one day write an article about how I hate the error process in minor league baseball, but that’s not what this is about tonight.

The move to second base for Hanson is a big one, because it pretty much signals that the Pirates are moving on from him at shortstop. In the article linked above, Larry Broadway says that he could return to the shortstop position in the future. But Hanson needs work at shortstop if he’s going to be a shortstop, which is why the move looks to be more than adding versatility.

The move could also signal a few things about the Pirates’ plans for the infield in the future.

Jordy Mercer and the Shortstop Position

The interesting thing about Hanson moving is that the “versatility” line was used with Jordy Mercer when he moved off shortstop in the minor leagues. However, Mercer had better defense at the position, and was moving off for a prospect the Pirates felt at the time could be a starter in the majors — Chase d’Arnaud. Now, Mercer is back and playing as the starting shortstop in Pittsburgh.

I don’t see that changing anytime soon. When Mercer was struggling offensively earlier in the season, Neal Huntington praised his defensive improvements. That wasn’t just praising the one part of his game that was working. It was praising the one part of the game that the Pirates value most from the shortstop position. Mercer doesn’t have elite defense, but he’s showing improvements this year, and if that continues he could have a lot of value at the position. His offense has picked up since the start of June, looking more like what we saw in 2013.

The combination of Mercer’s improved defense, and his bat getting back to looking like the 2013 version, means he’s not likely to go anywhere. If the Pirates had questions about the future of their shortstop position, then I don’t see them moving Hanson to second base. I think it’s easier to make the switch with Hanson if Mercer is doing well. I’ve envisioned the future of the middle infield with these two guys, and the only question mark has been about who will play at shortstop. At this point, Mercer’s defense is what you’d hope for out of Hanson, meaning there isn’t any value getting Hanson work at the position.

Neil Walker’s Future With the Pirates

If Hanson is the future at second base, then what does this mean for Neil Walker? The immediate reaction I got when the news came out today was “Bye Bye Neil.” I don’t think Walker is going anywhere yet. The Pirates still have him under control for two more seasons beyond the 2014 season. His hitting has been much better this year, with an increase in his power numbers. That increase continues an upward trend from the last four years. He saw a drop off in his walks, but also a drop in his strikeouts, and he’s hitting for a better average than last year. Defensively, he is struggling this season, after showing improvements in previous years.

Walker is making $5.8 M this year. He will probably get about $7.5-8 M in arbitration next year, and he could receive close to $10 M in his fourth year in 2016. I think the Pirates will keep him for the 2015 season, although I don’t think there are any guarantees after that. The 2016 season will be Walker’s age 30 season, which is when most players start their decline. It’s also possible that Hanson’s bat could put him on the fast track at second base, putting him in the majors by the middle of next season.

I don’t think Walker has a future with the Pirates at second base, at least not in 2016 and beyond. But what about another position?

A Possible Infield Shuffle?

If there’s one player who has struggled defensively this year, it has been Pedro Alvarez. He recorded another throwing error tonight, and the Pirates are losing faith in him at third base. Unfortunately, they have no good internal solution at third base. Josh Harrison could be one option, although I don’t think we’ve seen enough from him this year to say he can be an everyday third baseman. Harrison had 575 plate appearances prior to this year saying he was barely a bench option. This year he has 325 plate appearances saying he’s good enough to be a regular third baseman. I don’t think we’ve reached a sample size big enough to say which group of plate appearances is correct.

Walker started his career at catcher, then moved to third base for a few years. He moved to second base to reach the majors in 2009, with Alvarez on pace at the time to be the third baseman of the future, and making the jump to the majors a year later. So after five years away from the position, could Walker move back to third?

While he’s having a good year at the plate this year, Walker’s career OPS is .769. That would rank 12th of 24 qualified third basemen this year. Walker’s bat plays much better at second base than at third. If he could post strong defense at the third base position, then he would provide good enough value to be a starter, even if the bat doesn’t look like it belongs at third base.

I don’t think the Pirates will shuffle their infield around this season. It would probably be a better idea to put Harrison at third base if they want to replace Alvarez, rather than moving Walker over in the middle of the season. Then again, Walker might be fine moving back to third base immediately, which still leaves the question of who will play second (I don’t think Hanson would be ready to make the jump from Double-A).

I could see the Pirates exploring Walker to third base in the off-season, and adjusting the infield accordingly. That could mean Pedro Alvarez moving over to first base, or it could mean a trade. If second base is left without a long-term option, that could leave the position open for Hanson to take over by mid-season, if not earlier.

The formation of the infield will probably be a big topic this off-season, assuming it’s not addressed in-season with a long-term solution. For now, it looks like the future middle infield is set with Jordy Mercer at shortstop and Alen Hanson at second base.

Links and Notes

**Pirates Moving Alen Hanson to Second Base

**Tyler Glasnow is the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month For July

**JaCoby Jones is the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month For July

**Prospect Watch: Rafael Perez Has Another Strong Outing, Garcia and Osuna Extend Hit Streaks

**Prospect Highlights: Big Hit From Lambo, Garcia Homers Again

**Minor League Schedule: Cody Dickson is Undefeated Since the All-Star Break

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • szielinski

    Pedro may move to first sooner than we expect. The Sanchez/Davis platoon has not produced as we we reasonably hoped. Alvarez has all but played himself off third base. The Pirates could plug Harrison in at second base, release Davis, move Walker to third base and hope for the best. If Harrison continues to hit, this would be a much stronger lineup than the current version. Of course, Alvarez would need to settle in at first in short order. But his hands are good enough.

    Sadly, both Hanson and Alvarez could have their panic attacks at their new positions. Both have the tools needed to play their current positions. It’s mind over matter in their cases.

    • pilbobuggins

      WOw that’s a lot of movement mid season for a playoff contender. I was thinking most of these things need to be addressed off season,as bad as pedro has been even I don’t think the bucs should send him packing without getting a third bagger in return. Once marte comes back I see harrison at third with pedro as his backup and a bench bat,everything else will have to wait until the off season.

    • emjayinTN

      That combo at 1B looked real good, but over the past month they have been near invisible. I am amazed that a guy like Ike Davis is playing in the majors and has never adjusted that pre-swing bouncing of the hands – I knew about it when he was in NY, but I thought that would be the first thing the Pirates would correct. And, Alvarez is a lost ball in high weeds.

      I said it in ST and since, but why not put Neil Walker at 1B? I sort of see that as the future because Hanson has too much offense to hold him captive in Altoona much longer. We have chopped liver retreads in the MI at AAA and he should have been promoted already, then, start at AAA in 2015. If he does well, he could be at 2B in PNC by late June 2015. Walker is on a 20-25 HR pace, up from 16 in 2013, and 14 in 2012. As a switchhitter he eliminates the need for keeping two players at 1B, which also means two salaries. Alvarez stays at 3B.

      BTW, AJ just qualified for another $1.5 mil in 2015 as a result of reaching 24 starts for 2014. I think he can earn another $3 mil based on starts made.

      • leowalter

        emjay,I agree with much of what you say there,BUT, Alvarez can NOT be left at 3d base this season if they have any idea of making the post season. I realize the options are limited in what the can do with him,but you just can’t have him throwing the ball around any longer like he did last night. You would be better off with Morel and his .226 lifetime BA there !

      • Simon Weaver

        I think Neil can play anywhere but SS in the infield. He needs a long-term deal this year or next

    • Scott Kliesen

      I don’t see the Pirates having a hard and fast lineup once Marte returns. More likely to see Harrison playing 3B, 2B and OF 4-5 days per week. There’s no way they shuffle players off positions they’ve been playing all season this late in the season.

  • pilbobuggins

    Every time I hear folks say, we gotta extend walker,I say there is no need he’s under control until he’s thirty if he’s still here. That does not sit well with some folks ( me included) but pittsburgh kid or not he will price and age himself out of the burgh,sad but true. The pedro to first option is worth a shot,I personally think he is an albatross and the team would be better off without him. A trade with texas to get one of the rangers mlb ready 3rd base prospects is a possible solution and pedro would fit quite nice in that ballpark as a dh. Everything else tim says is agreeable to me.

  • Dave Parker’s Unfiltered Camel

    Last night may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t recall a single throw from Pedro that was on target. Every throw was a one-hop to first along with the one obligatory overhead toss. Overall Pedro has been a disappointment. Last year looks to have been an anomaly. The rest of his time in Pittsburgh has been about potential, not performance. His head is not allowing him to be the player he can be. This is not a new problem. They can move him to first and platoon him, but what’s the point? To cut down on his errors? Offensively he will still be that guy swinging at bad pitches out of the strike zone, batting 7nth, because he can’t handle being in the middle of the lineup. It’s time to cut bait. Trade him. The change in scenery may do him good.

    • emjayinTN

      DP: He is at the Sports Psych stage right now, but he is making only $4.25 mil with 2 more years of control, has 15 HR’s and 49 RBI’s, and has cut his K/W from @4/1 in 2013 to @2/1 in 2014. He has 24 E’s, but had 27 last year. On paper he looks like a 20 HR guy with around 70+ RBI depending upon how much he plays. He is real hard to watch, but this is a 6″ problem (space between the ears). Heck, looking at the numbers, this may be the time to sign him long term!!!

      • swampirate

        That is VERY interesting emjay…. I wonder what the value of an extension actually is and the potential of one right now for Alvarez. He could not come any cheaper than right now I would have to think. He may take the guaranteed money then perhaps the stress would leave him and he could turn into the masher in the middle of the lineup that we had all hoped for. Extremely good point. This just MAY be the time to extend Pedro!

        • bucsws2014

          It’s an interesting thought, but even if Pedro was batting .100 with 40 errors, Boras wouldn’t let it happen.

          • moose7195

            I don’t think he’d stop Pedro from staying in Pittsburgh. The cost would simply be too high compared to the payroll.

            • Asd

              Boras would argue that the errors make the game more exciting and should only ADD to the $ on the contract :)

          • emjayinTN

            bucs: If I am not mistaken, Boras was the mastermind behind Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales turning down QO’s from their respective teams – both went unsigned until after the amateur draft, and lost a lot of money in the process. I would think that every player in MLB took notice of that Boras brain fart. It is all good when you are calling the shots and the player is maxing out, but one hiccup like this could cost an agent their business.

      • Dave Parker’s Unfiltered Camel

        Emjay, you are spot on, but you also have to take into account the WTF factor. Tim should do an article on this underrated statistic. It’s a calculation of the number of times Per game, I yell at the TV screen, “Pedro, WTF!” The stat came into play when Pedro batted clean-up, resulting in him moving down the batting order. Now it’s happening far too frequently in the field, which has necessitated a reduction in playing time and future move to first.

        • Asd

          It has gotten so bad that when I take my 6 yr old outside for some catch and he overthrows me by four feet – he calls it a Pedro —– no lie.

        • emjayinTN

          DP: I also think the WTF Factor is vastly underestimated. What really gets to me is this theory that you watch the first strike, even though it is almost always the best and straightest pitch of the At Bat.

  • bucsws2014

    One thing I worry about is whether, when Pedro is in the game, our pitchers may be more reluctant to go inside for fear that any pulled balls to 3b will result in a guy standing on 2b.

  • mysonisnamedafterRoberto

    Well a move for next year involving Walker to 3rd and Pedro to 1st would allow Harrison a full year at 2nd to see if his bat is not a fluke. You wouldn’t have to rush Hanson.

  • bucsfan75

    Neil likes making moves…perhaps his plan is to trade for Utley and move Walker to 3rd for the playoff run. Utley signed through 2015 clearing the way for Hanson in 2016. Pedro traded but most likely moved to first (trade value at low point) in off-season.

    • Lee Young

      Neil Walker likes making moves? Is he a dancer?

      :) :) :) :)

    • Asd

      Utley has said he want to stay in philly. He knows the team is going nowhere but is loyal to the franchise and fans. He plans to finish his career in Philly, and since he is 10-5 he can block trades.

  • Lee Young

    Re: PRNW….his back problem has flared up again. He has only played a full season in 2011. As he ages, will he get worse?

    I love Walker, but he hasn’t stayed healthy enough for me.

    • lonleylibertarian

      The best predictor of future health problems for athletes is their prior injury/health history.

      Applies to Walker, Marte and Martin…

      And it never gets better as they get older

      • Andrew

        A bit of a difference between recurrent oblique/back injures and spraining your wrist sliding/getting hit in the head with baseball.

        • piraddict

          Only if you think Marte will stop crowding the plate and sliding into 2nd head first.

          • Andrew

            Again, there is a difference from environmental factors and initiate recurring non-traumatic issues.

  • Jared

    I understand the hesitancy to really want the Bucs to rely on JayHay, but he was an almost yearly all-star in the minors and hit over .300 every year until, what, 2010? His OPS wasn’t always the best but he always showed he could hit for average, which on this team wouldn’t be the worst thing ever. No, I do not think JayHay is the answer at any position long-term and I think that the season he is having is a little above his head, but I do not think that he’s someone who couldn’t consistently start in a super utility role and provide you good offensive production: .300/.770-.780 OPS. Also, the way he plays that game, well, it would be nice if it were infectious and other players played all out each and every play like he does.

  • st1300b

    I don’t agree with moving anyone really. I also don’t agree that Neil’s defense is any different than it’s been over the past year or if at all it’s been better by being more instinctual. Mercer’s defense if anyone has watched has been equal to what we’d expect from Barmes, which is quite consistently excellent. So IMO the middle is set and fine.
    I don’t know if moving Pedro is the answer, I’m seeing him more as a DH these days – that’s the only way you get any value for him too at this point is moving him to an AL squad. Ike is under contract I believe until one of Lambo/Allie/Bell are ready for the position which leaves 3b. Harrison to me reminds me so much of Terry Pendleton who I thought was an excellent version of what a 3b can be. I give him the job until his performance warrants a change which to this point it does not.
    Hanson/JaCoby/others who want an opportunity will and should work into openings that happen – injuries, contracts, etc will guide where they end up. I mean look at Harrison at 3b…Walker at 2b…it just happens,

  • Asd

    The problem with platooning Pedro at first thus season is that of the two guys at 1st – Ike is the better at the plate. He has the second best bb/ ab in the nl and while he hasn’t hit for power, neither has gabby or Pedro. Between Ike and gaby, gaby has been the weaker of the two (eye test only)

    • bucsws2014

      The point of a platoon is to maximize the # of ABs vs. the opposite side pitchers. In Gaby’s case, he has far more ABs vs. RHP than LHP. Not the case with Ike. Thus Gaby’s #s suffer by comparison as he’s being used improperly.

  • Spa City

    Pedro is already a 1Bman, the Bucs are just playing him out of position. If the Bucs moved Pedro over to short, they could call him a “shortstop.” But it would not mean he had any business playing short. Pedro will either be patrolling the initial sack next year, or he will be playing for a junior circuit team.

    A middle infield of Mercer and Hanson will not impress anybody. They would be below average defensively and offensively. Pirate fans may be assuming their own objectivity in their valuation of Hanson. But a truly objective analysis of Hanson would reveal him to be a flawed player. Not a terrible player, but obviously not a noteworthy player. Hanson is not good defensively. He refuses to draw walks. He steals bases but gets thrown out far too often. Hanson’s most likely numbers in an average season during his prime are .260/.300/.360 with 25 SB and 10 CS. Not a particularly good player. He is flashy, but not that good.

    The Pirates need to take some action to import a middle infielder. Neil Walker should be playing 3B and Pedro should be playing 1B already. They are costing runs defensively. Mercer should be a utility infielder. The Bucs should do what it takes to acquire reliable middle infielders.

    I recommend offering Davis, Hanson, Kingham, Heredia and Josh Harrison to the Mariners for Chris Taylor and Tyler Kelly. They are undervalued players whose positions are blocked in Seattle. They would start for the Bucs right away, and they would improve the team offensively and defensively.

    • leowalter

      Your evaluation of Hanson is better than all of the major talent evaluators then ? What makes you think that ? He is a 21 year old playing out of position in a tough AA league,and you have what to project his defensive abilities. SMFH !

      • Spa City

        Wow. It sounds like I really got under your skin. Do you speak to people like that in person? Or only with the anonymity of the internet? God forbid I should have an opinion that makes your feelings ouchy.

      • leowalter

        If I saw you at tonight’s Curve game I would tell you the same thing to your face. By the way, if you noticed, I use the name my parents gave me at Baptism, not an anonymous screen name.

  • leowalter

    I was at the Curve game last night,and the ” error ” was NOT Hanson’s,if there was an error at all. Allie pulled his foot off the bag making an extreme stretch that was not even necessary. The runner was going to be out by a foot with just a normal stretch. All that aside, Hanson’s ” anxiety attacks ” at SS were more than likely caused by the fact that the guy was very much aware that he really was out of position,he just doesn’t charge a ball and release quickly enough for MLB, nor does he actually have enough arm strength to make throws from anyhere deep in the SS position. Gary Greene pretty much said all of that also on the Curve Pre Game Show prior to last night’s game.

  • Simon Weaver

    I want some serious juggling. Gab gone. Barmes gone. Quick 4M more available, losing no production. — Give portion of savings to Martin

    Third base should be a platoon Neil/J Hey. If anything you have to cover more ground at second than third and his arm is not in question. The bat is fine… for both. Second base should be Neil, J Hey, Hanson (by July-ish with position change). Shortstop gaping hole. Jordy power surge, yeah… not buying it. First base is not bad with Alvarez, Ike, Polanco, Neil as options. Maybe bring back Ike if he can be somewhat Laroche-like on the Nats

    You need one trade and it’s simple. Addison Russell. But I still want Kris Bryant (just for pure Cutch needs another superstar to bear the burden) because he’s in that top 10 drafted college position player future All-Star like Braun, Tulo, Longoria.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

      Huh? If the Pirates moved Polanco to 1st they should be shot. Polanco is young and raw but he has far too much ability to move him to 1B . your on crack. Josh Bell will be moved there if anyone. Pedro maybe a season or two before he’s traded. Platoon Walker and Josh???? Why? Walker’s hitting really well from both sides and harrison is hitting everything. And please by all means tell me why the Cubs would trade the best hitter in the minors. People always think that you can just trade for anyone you want

      • Simon Weaver

        To me it makes much more sense to move your lanky, raw, OF that can get balls over his head (from Alvarez), side to side either side (no more Ike flops), and in the dirt to 1B (Gab is a good poop scooper). He can be the best 1B. He can’t and will not ever be the best OF. I think he’s so long and athletic he can get a lot of the balls Neil can’t get. He can add weight much more “wisely” and “easily” with that frame let’s say than throwing weight on Josh Bell for the heck of it. Polanco can be a tank with more weight. 30-35 HRs a year versus like 15-20 HRs and some steals. Like what Alvarez was supposed to be. And he’s got speed. Polanco kinda scares me in his ability to judge balls in the OF so I don’t like him there.

        Ideally, I want J Hey, Hanson, Neil as three of the four IF if we continue to the status quo. Bottom line. Don’t care where they end up playing.

        I think anyone is obtainable. If you can get Wayne Gretzky the untouchable of all untouchables than you can get anyone from the Cubs.

        Here’s some valuable assets I wouldn’t mind trading: Marte, Alvarez, Taillon/Kingham, Sampson, Ramirez, Morton. Now tell me you can’t command BOTH Addison Russell and Kris Bryant for three of four of these guys

        • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

          You do realize that Polanco has more upside than Josh Bell as an OF’er right? He’s faster and have a better arm. He is young and kind of quirky . He will work most of that out of him. And yes I can tell you that those group of players wouldn’t bring back Russell and Bryant. Those guys are top 10 prospects. Both of them. Bryant is the best hitter in the minors this year. They will never give him up especially for that package LOL

        • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

          You might be able to pry Russell away for Glasnow or Taillon but that would be stupid for us to do. Pitching wins. Do we really want to face Taillon or Kingham 4 or 5 times a year? I don’t. We are fine at SS. Russell will be an average ML hitter and an above average SS. With Mercer your getting average performance on both sides so it’s not worth giving up a future ace for him

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

    Please by all means ,tell me How Neil Walker is struggling at 2nd base lol. I understand his range isn’t great and he’s never going to be an above average defender, but Neil Walker is SOLID at 2nd base.He’s as solid as Mercer is AT SS. I don’t care what dwar or any of that says. It also says that Cutch is a below average CF’er which is notanything close to accurate. What has Walker made he made? 2 errors? LOL He is very solid. I do however see him making a transition to 3rd base in the off season and Pedro moving to 1st or traded. If Alvarez finishes on this same trend to finish out the season there is no sense in dealing him. You would get little return. You have to bring his value back up. The Pirates spent a #2 overall pick and a lot of time on him. Harrison can move to 2nd and if he continue’s playing this way he may block Hansen. I had high hopes for Hansen but his bat doesn’t even look all that great anymore. .320 OBP? for a guy that uses speed as his game. Won’t be near good enough to crack this offense. Also, Walker will be here beyond 2016. They will get him extended at least through the McCutchen years. Walker has finally become what his upside is . 280-290 hitter 20 Hr potential. i think we can hold onto a a guy like that through his age 32 seasons. After that his price should come down and we can sign him year to year. Walker’s not going anywhere. The Pirates would lose way too much money. Bank on it

    • Simon Weaver

      Neil is just the Natural. He can play anywhere in the infield and can hit. By this time, I thought he would be in the utility infield role at a reasonable price. The only complaint is he’s no Mickey Mantle from the right side of the plate. He’s got Barmes warning track power haha. But who cares?

      • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

        Switch hitting is very valuable. I knew Walker would have a break out campaign like this Everyone including Mr. Williams said Walker could not hit from the right side. He did struggle but made some adjustments. He’s hitting for average right handed now and the power will come the more comfortable he gets.. To me Walker is very valuable and yes I am biased but he does so many things well and he’s a guy you don’t have to bench against lefties. Walker should e hitting 6 or 7th right handed. Cleanup left handed

  • Spa City

    Alen Hanson refuses to draw walks. He steals bases, but gets caught far too frequently. He has some power, but not enough to cover the many weaknesses in his game. His defense is weak, and he will probably only have value as a 2Bman.

    Overall, he is a liability on defense and offense. He is a flashy player who swings hard and runs fast, but he swings-and-misses too often, and he gets caught stealing too frequently.

    The most likely scenario for Hanson is as a mediocre stop-gap starter at 2B for a few years, and a utility player who moves from team to team every year. We should trade him while he still has perceived value.

    • piraddict

      Hanson’s biggest liability appears to be character issues given all the times he has been benched the last two years. Carlos Garcia doesn’t put up with much. The Pirates should trade Hanson and let him become someone else’s problem.

      Proposed trade: Alvarez and Morton to Texas for Joey Gallo. The Rangers desperately need pitching and might find Morton to be attractive.

      Take Alvarez’s 2015 money and use it to pursue an extension with Martin. Take Morton’s money add in Liriano’s and Volquez’s money and add whatever more is necessary to sign Lester in the off season. The 2015 rotation would be: Lester, Cole, Worley and the best two of Locke, Cumpton and Kingham for the 4 and 5 spots until Taillon is ready mid season.

      3B Harrison, SS NGOEPE, 2B Mercer, 1B Walker would adequate until Gallo, Jones and Tucker and Bell are ready to move into the lineup.

      • Spa City

        That sounds like a terrible infield. I don’t see Josh Harrison sustaining his brief success. He is a mediocre player who got hot for a couple of months. Fun with small sample sizes, right? I like Gift Ngoepe, but he is a utility player in the majors. Mercer is a better utility player, but a utility player nonetheless. Neil Walker is a decent hitter, but at first base his bat is mediocre at best.

        I cannot imagine Texas trading Gallo for Pedro Alvarez and Charles Morton. Why would they do that? Gallo might already be better than Alvarez, and his price tags would be a fraction of Alvarez’s 2015 $. Morton is mediocre. There are plenty of Charles Mortons available without trading a top prospect.

        • piraddict

          Morton is a solid #3 starter. The Rangers have Yu Darvish and then nobody with an ERA under 4.00. Morton could become their 2nd best MLB pitcher, with a team friendly long term contract. Money isn’t the same problem for Texas as it is for the Pirates so Alvarez could work as a DH. His biggest problems are defensive. He’ll hit 30+ home runs and a serious number of RBIs from the DH.

          I disagree about Harrison. When he has played regularly in his career he has played well, regardless of the level. I think he was undervalued because of his size (which is interesting given NH’s stature). Gift right now is a Barmes with speed. His bat can still improve. Mercer has improved steadily since a horrid start in April. His OPS for July was .824. There are only two regular MLB SS with season OPS over .800, so you are short changing Mercer’s offensive potential. Walker isn’t a pure power hitter.but his numbers this year are roughly the same as Morneau, Freeman, Napoli, Moss, Adams, Dunn, Teixeira who are all considered to be better than mediocre 1B men.

          So I guess we disagree on how to interpret the facts.

        • leowalter

          Joey Gallo is striking out at a rate of 42 % …..in AA. Do you realize that no prospect, that’s zero, has ever been successful in MLB, that has had a SO rate over 30 % ? You seem to trip the BS meter with your comments rather regularly.

          • piraddict

            Gallo’s K % is high Leo, but interestingly his BB % is high as well which results in an excellent OBP = .417. Here is Gallo’s MiLB line this year:

            .298/.417/.674/1.091

            K/PA = .33 BB/PA = .17 Hits/ PA = .25 Balls in play that make outs / PA = .25

            Gallo’s high walk rate and resulting .417 OBP indicate he has a sense for the strike zone. It looks like he’s over swinging when he swings resulting in the high K rate. You raise an important issue. Hitting MLB quality breaking stuff is extraordinarily hard. There is no denying he has elite power. It will be interesting to see which wins out in his case, his propensity to strike out, or his propensity to hit the long ball.

            • leowalter

              I am very familiar with his numbers, thank you. As I mentioned, no top prospect with a SO rate over 30 % ( let alone 40 ) has ever been successful at the ML level. Brad Eldred had tremendous power, but once they found his holes, he was done advancing. If Gallo doesn’t get his strikeouts way down, he will be a leading HR hitter…in Japan. For that one person to say that Gallo is probably already better than Pedro was ridiculous.

              • piraddict

                I agree.

            • leowalter

              Piraddict : just to give you this a little more perspective to the Gallo MiLB numbers, I looked up Eldred’s AA numbers. In 60 games in Altoona, he hit 30 HRs, with 87 RBI. His SO rate was just a bit above 30% with an OPS over 1.2000. HE actually had 60 RBI in one month of 2004. Those are some fearsome numbers,to say the least ! And when he hit a HR, like Gallo, they went a long way. But, even with a good sense of the zone, if you can’t get that SO rate down, you are going to have a very difficult time with ML sliders and changeups.

              • piraddict

                Interesting perspective and comparison Leo. I haven’t seen Gallo play yet, so perhaps my optimism is premature. Swing and miss strike outs are different than taking a called strike three on a pitch on a corner. Do you know what characterizes Gallo, too much not seeing the ball on a swing or too much caution?

                • leowalter

                  piraddict : through last season Gallo had a big loop in his swing,and chased too many bad balls. He did address a lot of his hand and head movement problems,but he has holes in his swing that cause him to swing through many pitches. My own opinion is that he sells out a lot of times because he really doesn’t seem to have a plan on how to deal with talented pitchers. That is my opinion,though one commenter here says I use ” small sample sizes ” ­čś×

          • Spa City

            You like to have fun with small sample sizes. Gallo is the essence of a 3 true outcomes hitter, and he will strike out a lot. But he walks a lot, too. He has elite power, which is rare in the majors these days. Gallo has a significant bust rate (Eno Sarris suggested a 40% bust rate), but his ceiling is extremely high. Power like this is rare these days. Gallo would come at a premium – if Texas would consider trading him.

            The fun part of anonymous commenting is that it does not matter what I think. I am not sure why people get so steamed about what other people think about baseball players. Obviously none of us can actually trade anybody, so why would you care that I value Hanson and Gallo differently than you?

            • leowalter

              Wow ! What ground breaking information. And you are working from larger sample sizes when discussing Gallo ? Get serious. Brad Eldred had as much power as Gallo,and also many of the same swing and miss problems. Where is he now ? Japan. Last,but not least,everyone is entitled to their opinion,but when I see someone spouting BS,I am also entitled to call them out on it. Deal with it.

              • Spa City

                Nope. Not getting serious. But you sound like a fun lady. I wish I knew some ladies with your charm and wit. It is sexy when people call other out when the see them spouting BS. We should be Facebook friends!

  • dr dng

    I was at the Altoona game last night. Hanson has certainly not become a fan favorite. I have been to more than a 100 minor league games and have never heard so many home fans heckle their own player the entire game. After some ground balls to him later in the game that were tough for him to handle he came to the plate and one home fan yelled, “Hey Hanson, Neil Huntington just called me and told me that he is going to sign Nix and put you on waivers.
    =
    Overall really enjoyed my yearly trip to Altoona. 7-6 win with a really nice, big crowd. The fans all like their “Gift” and love that catcher. Of course Bell is impressive and nearly passed they guy in front of him when he scored on a double to left field from first base.
    Hats off to the ushers as well who really know the game and are helpful in every way!
    -

    • leowalter

      Nobody in the Diamond Club seats heckled Hanson, where were you sitting ?

      • dr dng

        200 level behind home plate innings 1-5. . Moved around some since I like to get the feel of a variety of places in the stadium for innings 6-8 then back to 200 level for inning 9.

        • leowalter

          I haven’t seen him come out for many rallies at all since the EL ASG actually.

  • Red_Skully

    12th out of 30 is a bad thing. Walker has a higher OPS than Pedro right now. Evan Longoria has a lower than 12th, should he move to 2B. Walker will not have the range to play 2B into his thirties. Walker’s possible move to 3B is not only a good idea, but inevitable. Harrison has more range and will probably be the starting 2B before Hanson’s call-up.