First Pitch: How Long Do You Give Certain Struggling Players?

Earlier today I wrote about the offensive help in the farm system, providing five moves the Pirates could make in the short term to provide a bit of an upgrade to their team. One question to ask is: how long do you give each player that is currently struggling on the major league roster?

For me, it depends on the role that player has on the team.

Nate McLouth, for example, doesn’t have that big of a role. He’s a bench bat, and he’s not providing much value offensively or defensively. He has a .385 OPS in 62 plate appearances after tonight’s game. He’s also 0-for-his last 21. Every time he comes to the plate, I wonder when it will be his last at-bat. Yet he still keeps going out there, and Gorkys Hernndez still goes without a shot.

For a starter, like Clint Barmes, I’d wait a little longer, although the time is approaching. I said in the article that I’d give Barmes and the Garrett Jones/Casey McGehee platoon a few more weeks. You sign someone to a deal, whether it’s a one year deal, a two year deal, or more, and you need to give them at least two months.

Barmes isn’t hitting, and Jordy Mercer (who is hitting in Triple-A) can come close to his defensive value. The Jones/McGehee platoon started off well, but has since struggled. Meanwhile, Matt Hague is starting to heat up in Triple-A, on an 8-for-27 run (.296), with a double, a homer, and two walks in his last seven games.

In those situations you not only want to give the major leaguer some time, but you want to see more from the prospect. That’s a small sample size from Hague, and Mercer’s hitting has been limited to the month of May. As I mentioned in the article, I would probably ease Mercer in at shortstop. I might take the same approach with Hague, splitting time with Garrett Jones.

In my opinion, there are some moves you can make right now. Nate McLouth isn’t helping the team at all, and Yamaico Navarro could probably benefit from regular playing time in Triple-A. Barmes, and the Jones/McGehee platoon should be on watch. Give them a few weeks to try and turn things around, then start to ease Mercer and Hague in to the lineup.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates lost 3-2 to the Mets.

**After his last start, I talked about extending James McDonald. Another good start, so I thought I’d bring up the subject again. Kristy Robinson’s notebook tonight looks in to the breakout season he is having.

**Prospect Watch: Matt Hague hit his first homer, and Jameson Taillon had a decent start.

**Jo-Jo Reyes and Chase d’Arnaud left the Indianapolis game with injuries.

**Today I took a look at some of the internal options who could provide offensive help in the majors this year.

**Jeff Locke is looking to bring his new delivery to the mound at PNC Park. Unfortunately, he didn’t get in to action the last few games, and he will be sent down tomorrow when Jason Grilli returns.