Andrew McCutchen Expected to Go on the 15-Day DL

Andrew McCutchen is expected to go on the 15-day disabled list, according to Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Cook says that McCutchen could be out for three weeks or a month, and says he might have a serious oblique injury, which he suffered on Sunday.

The injury is a big blow to the Pirates, who are in the thick of a playoff race. They’re currently 1.5 games back and in third place in the NL Central, and half a game back from the second Wild Card spot. Losing their best player, and the MVP of the league, really hurts.

Starling Marte can take over for McCutchen in center field when he completes his rehab work. Gregory Polanco hasn’t had the best start to his career, and the Pirates will need him to step up now, more than ever. Travis Snider could possibly emerge with playing time now, giving him the chance to see if his recent production off the bench has been legit. Since Polanco arrived, Snider has put up a .292/.343/.523 line in 70 plate appearances as a bench player, along with four homers.

The Pirates aren’t the only contender missing their best player, as the Cardinals are missing Yadier Molina for about another month. The Cardinals have managed to stick around in the playoff race, despite this loss. It’s not going to be easy for the Pirates to stay in the playoff race with this loss. You can’t just replace a guy like Andrew McCutchen. If Polanco and/or Snider step up, that would soften the blow a bit, and could allow the Pirates to stick around in the race until McCutchen returns.

  • Monsoon Harvard
    August 4, 2014 11:53 pm

    They need to get Marlon Byrd from the Phils, but this time it will be very hard to get him through waivers. This is why they should have resigned him in the first place. Injuries happen. This is also why Josh Bell is not so expendable as people think.

    • Yeah, if only we had matched or gone over that offer he got from the Phils, that is such a great contract! Cant believe NH didnt give the 36 year old 2 years at 8 million per with a chance for 3 years. That’d be a great allocation of resources since we didnt have 3 young and clearly better options. Injuries happen, but that doesnt mean you sign aging guys to 3 year deals “just in case”. Neil Walker could get hurt again, we should go sign Uggla to a 2-3 year deal. That’ll help.

      • Monsoon Harvard
        August 5, 2014 8:44 am

        Well I completely disagree. If they had Byrd, the Pirates rotten hitting in April and all the one run losses probably wouldn’t have happened.
        Marte’s injuries all year would not have even been a factor, and Cutch’s injury would not ruin their post season chances. Then they’d have him as an excellent back-up and pinch hitter for next season. But there will be injuries next season too, and he would still end up playing 5 out of 7 games regardless.

        16 million for 2 years would have been a fair price to pay for all of the hitting & defense he’s given this season and will give next year.
        Championship teams are not ruined by injuries to star players. Just pseudo-championship teams.

        • Between March 31 and June 9, the day before Polanco’s promotion, Pirate RFs (Snider/Tabata/Harrison) generated 31 wRC to Byrd’s 34. I’m only counting games that those guys started in RF – not LF/PH/2B/3B.

          Those 3 runs would theoretically be enough to flip one of those 1-run losses and turn another into a tossup. The reasons this is closer that you might think are (1) Byrd had a crappy April, and (2) J-Hay, who got the majority of starts in RF starting May 3, > Byrd.

          Since then, of course, Polanco has been the everyday RF. A hypothetical Pirate Marlon Byrd would have been reduced to, at best, a 2x/week starter and replaced Gaby as the RH PH until Marte’s bereavement, then concussion. That still only adds up to a 1/2 time player since June.

          So basically we’re talking about an $8M guy who was really no better than Snider/Tabata in April, would have blocked the better Harrison in May and early June, would have been reduced to spot starts once Polanco was promoted June 10, except for injury. His value is nearly 100% tied to the misfortunes that Marte and Cutch have suffered, which were unforeseeable. Without those, he is an expensive but good player with nowhere to play.

          And in 2015 he will once again make $8M to start maybe 1-2x/week and pinch hit. I just don’t see this as making sense, even in hindsight.

    • Step being stupid. You have been whining all over the local media saying the same thing.

  • Is Alfonso Soriano still available for free? Lol

  • May I just say, it is time for the pitching to do some of the heavy lifting. If Liriano maintains form, Worley continues to dominate, Morton gets better fielding, and Cole returns to form, this pitching staff could prove to be the difference come October.

    I agree, its time for Pedro to step up. This is a very workable lineup with Harrison, Polanco, and Marte in the outfield and Walker able to shake off the injury bug.

    • Wow, that’s a lot of “ifs”. Pedro also isn’t going to step up, his mind is shot.

  • Its time for Lambo- we have nothing else left in the cupboard

  • I can’t believe I’m writing this, but the best option to replace Cutch on the roster might be (gulp) Jose Tabata. Especially if Pedro stays on the bench. They’re already thin at OF, and with Polanco and Snider at the corners you’ve got two lefties who don’t have a great track record vs. LHP. Decker is another lefty. Tabata’s done absolutely nothing to warrant a promotion, but they’re paying him anyway, and he did show up last summer when Marte was out.

    And who knows, he might hit a little while he’s up and make himself trade bait, even wit that contract.

    • I was thinking along the same lines, and also thought this might be time to give Lambo a shot and see if he has anything.

    • The last thing I want to see is Tabata back on the active roster, I think the Bucs have moved on from him but I understand your thinking. I would much rather see Lambo given an opportunity.

      • As would I but he’s yet another lefty, which means you’re still vulnerable to LHP.

    • ( gulp) is right. The guy isn’t even playing well in Indy.

    • Mel Rojas has had a great year and has hit in Indy as well as Altoona. Should be given some consideration as well. So should Lambo, although a Lefty bat really isn’t needs at this point. And the Bucs may need to make a deal.

  • The pirates should just file a lawsuit against Gibson and the d-backs for loss of income based off of reduced revenue without cutch and their reduced playoff possibilities. It would never hold up in court but would be nice to see everybody in AZ get all fluttery

  • Thankfully Marte is coming back, so defense in center won’t miss a beat. However defense in left and Cutch’s bat, will be sorely missed. The goal is to stay in striking distance at the end of August, maybe 3 or 4 games back. That will still give us a shot in September. We need Walker to be ok and Cole back immediately.

    • Is there a reason you can drop Snider or Martinez out in LF but not put Polanco there? If the need in LF is speed, then I think it’s pretty obvious you put Polanco in LF and the spare part in RF. If the Bucs were going to get Byrd or Rios, or even bring up Lambo, that would have to happen anyway.

      • Stargell_Stars
        August 4, 2014 6:53 pm

        I would think it has everything to do with not adding another serving of peas to Polanco’s plate when he’s just now learning how to digest what’s already there.

        • Then put him in CF. He played there through most of his minors career. If Cutch is the defensive nightmare that sabremetrics suggest he is, maybe it’s an upgrade!

        • For Christ’s sakes, it’s baseball, he’s not learning calculus. I highly doubt it makes any difference to him whether or not he’s in right or center.

          • but it does take away focus from offense. As he is now, he is comfortable with his spot and can trust his abilities and focus on hitting. Changing his spot forces him to put a good deal of focus into learning that spot, thus taking some away from hitting. Id rather not change his position in a pennant race.

          • Stargell_Stars
            August 5, 2014 7:45 am

            Apparently you didn’t see how tentative he was in right when he was first called up, for Chrissake.

      • Yeah that would make sense but I think they want Polanco to stay in right because he is still learning it. I think they are trying not to put any more pressure on him right now.

    • Defense in Left won’t really change from the way it has been with Marte out,will it ? Defense will be a very small part of the equation with McCutchen out ! At least I think so.

      • That’s true, good point!

      • I watched a single drop in front of Snider this weekend that Marte and probably Polanco would’ve caught. Didn’t hurt us if I remember correctly, but I definitely wouldn’t say there hasn’t been a dropoff in defense.

  • While I don’t think losing Cutch for a month is the end of the 2014 Pirates, I do think how Hurdle uses the remaining talent is. I keep Harrison at leadoff, bat Marte 2nd, Polanco 3rd. I think the kid can handle 3rd better than leadoff. I live or die with Pedro at cleanup, although I could accept Walker there if Pedro bats 5th. Martin 6th, then Davis/Sanchez and Mercer. I believe that is the best lineup to maximize run production at the top of the order. I do not want to see Davis or Sanchez above 7th for the rest of the year.

    Now if they get Byrd, you bat him cleanup. If you get Rios you probably bat him 3rd and move Polanco back to 2 and drop Marte down or move Walker up to 2 and bat Rios 5th.

    • I like the idea of the lineup. Maybe even bat Harrison third with the way he is hitting and Polanco back to first. As for trading for Byrd, forget that because he is signed 2 more years at big money and would have no place to play next year. Unless they could flip him in the off-season. Not sure what Rios contract is plus what it would cost to get one of them. I’m not a Lambo guy but why not give him a shot while Andrew is out. If he hits, move him to first when Cutch gets back. I have had enough of Davis and Sanchez!

      • Rios has a $2 million buyout on a $14 million contract for next year. You pay the buyout, no brainer. This year’s contract is whatever pro-rated portion of $13 mill is left. It’s only money. Nutting already said Neal can go up to $90 mill. Might cost a 11-20 prospect plus someone MLB ready that we don’t truly need. Maybe two of those. Won’t know for sure until Neal asks, but the CWS FO seem more sane than RAJ.

        • Rios is not on the CWS. He’s on the Rangers. I would guess he would be around the same price as Byrd last year.

          • Thanks for the correction. I’m thinking I like Rios more than deAza and not realizing it’s no longer 2013. Does seem like we were having that conversation just yesterday though, lol.

            • Really sucks we’re talking about this bc we’ve lost Cutch though. There isn’t a more important player to a team (besides Trout) than Cutch.

  • For the sake of the team’s psychology I don’t think you try to fix this by bringing up someone from AAA. I think you have to acquire someone. The two leading candidates would be Byrd and Rios. The difference being Rios is more money, less prospects, but also less HR power, although he leads AL in triples.

    • If Joe Starkey really made that comment,he should be in line for a brain transplant.

      • Haha, Leo those guys on the Fan have no clue what they are talking about.

        • cs : that is why I avoid clowns like him.

          • Leo: me too! I have to turn them off all the time!

            • If they have no clue, why do you have them on in the first place?

              • Because at times if I’m in car, they get updates or breaking news I don’t see at the time. On occasion they have an interview with someone I may want to hear. Usually if I turn them on, they are spouting garbage and I turn the channel. The morning show is one of two things, if the Pirates won they act like they are the greatest. If they lost, they act like the season is over and need to make so and so change. Those guys are clowns, it’s a 162 game season. There will be ups and downs and even the very best teams lose 60 games.

      • The thing with mental blockages like Pedro’s is that you never really know for sure what causes or unlocks them. IMO, the team is better with him than without him, so play the man and see if he responds.

        • You can’t be serious. The best thing for all involved is to get him off 3d base completely.

          • I can be serious and I am.

            • How many more throwing errors will you have to see before you REALLY get serious then ?

              • I’ll let you know when he gets there. My point is that Pedro might possibly respond to having to be “the guy” as opposed to “one of the guys”. The more Pedro platooned with Harrison, the worse the throwing problem got. And now with him relegated to strictly platoon, it’s reached epic proportions. Maybe this can work the other way if he knows he’s the guy until Cutch returns. IMO, worth a try.

                • pilbobuggins
                  August 4, 2014 8:10 pm

                  We lost cutch, don’t try and make it worse by bringing in the albatross. Unless of course your aim is to see the ship sink?

                  • Then you get rid of him and not waste a much-needed roster spot during a pennant run. Those are really the only two choices. Play him here or let him play for someone else. You’re basically saying he can never be used in a double switch, or as a late inning defensive replacement, therefore he’s completely useless, unless you give him another position NOW.

                    • Then I say get rid of him,a bag of balls at least has not cost this team wins.

              • It’s simply a matter of comfort. That is why I like Starky’s idea. But if I’m Clint Hurdle and I do this, I make him stop taking the extra grounders. I contact the rest of his teammates and I ask them to keep it business as usual as if there is nothing wrong. I don’t go over any more film about it, and I don’t mess with his throwing technique. You give him the regular level of work at practice, and you tell him to throw in a way that’s most comfortable for him. He is quite clearly frustrated, and it’s making the problem worse. You have to create an environment that eliminates that pressure he’s feeling, even if that means you intensify the work in the cage to occupy his mind. If you can create that environment, then he will start making those throws, assuming it is a mental issue.

                Pedro is the only position player on this team that can even begin to replace Cutch’s production. I’m not saying you coddle him, and I’m not saying that you keep it this way for the rest of the season. But if NH can’t bring in an above average replacement player for the OF, then it really is all up to Pedro.

                • After thinking over both bucsw’s earlier comment, but mainly from reading your’s several times, you just might be on to something. You are dead on saying there just isn’t any other bat on that 25 man that could help compensate for losing McCutchen. And then to tie up Harrison to strictly playing 3d doesn’t seem like a great idea to me. However, I still totally reject Starkey’s idea, it is ridiculous to think that loading that kind of pressure on a player could help do anything much but make it worse for Alvarez. As I mentioned earlier, what would he have done with Blass or Ankiel ? Or Chuck Knobloch or Mackey Sasser ?

                  • Your apprehensions are exactly why Starky’s idea may just work. By making Pedro your unconditional starter for at least the next month, you actually remove pressure from him. The pressure to keep his job and produce goes away because you’re giving him the job. Nothing will remove the pressure created by the value of these games to the team’s postseason hopes, but what they’re doing now is amplifying that pressure to succeed on top of each game’s inherent pressure. That’s why it’s getting worse. Maybe, just maybe, if you get him back to enjoying baseball, he may just remember how to play it.

      • An angry man who writes for angry fans.

  • William Wallace
    August 4, 2014 6:02 pm

    Marlon Byrd please come back!

    • I seriously wonder if that will be the recourse now.

    • Didn’t they just put him on waivers today?

      • Yes, revocable waivers. Will be interested in Bucs claim him.

        • He would look great as our cleanup hitter, that’s for sure. But if they did trade for him, what do they do when Cutch comes back? Put Byrd on waivers again?

          • I think its more likely that the Pirates would acquire Josh Willingham (who they’ve liked in the past) or Rios who has a much less expensive out than Byrd.

            • To me, Byrd has something those other candidates don’t. He’s had recent late season success with this organization. That makes him more valuable than both those other guys combined.

              • So his good few months with us is more important than cost and contract and ability now? Not only are you relying on a small sample size to dictate your move, you also ignore his age and contract while doing so. Yikes

                • I’m not saying that at all. His ability is clearly still there. I’m not calling it a long term fix either, so he can be traded during the offseason in order to remove part of the cost and the contract. If his numbers remain as consistently good with us as they were with the Phils, then platoon Polanco for a month, or shift him to the bench and have him help the team vs LHP. I’m not ignoring anything.

            • They liked Josh two years ago. I liked Josh two years ago. Not now though.

          • These are first-world problems. You should be thankful we’re talking about this and not the third-world problems of 1993-2012.

  • Too bad Pedro sucks.
    Harrison in left, Marte in center, and a functional Pedro at 3rd and we could buy time.

  • We really need Marte, Snider and Polanco to step up. Also need a health Walker.

  • I hope the Pirates bring someone up, who may be young and unproven, but at least offers enough upside to make a difference. Like Rojas for example. If we are going to use a steady diet of Martinez, Snider, and say the great Jaff Decker……ugh!

    Chris Dickerson could have helped…oh, wait, I forgot we traded him – and kept the likes of Martinez, Decker, Morel, etc. on the 40 man roster. Good job Neal!

    • Wow, you just won’t give up trying to get that Dickerson dog to hunt, will you?

      Dickerson’s hitting for Cleveland is the flukiest fluke that ever did fluke. He’s batting .483 on balls in play, which I’m sure you understand is not going to last. When he comes down to earth – any second now – he will return to being the AAAA player he’s always been.

      Snider, in case you missed it (both in the article above and in the actual games), is hitting.

      Martinez is only playing OF because Pedro can’t throw to 1B without pegging the family of four sitting in Section 109, which forces Harrison to play full-time 3B. Martinez needs to be on the team because he’s the only guy who can back up SS, which is Barmes’ role, but Barmes is on the DL. He won’t be getting much OF time once Marte is back.

      You point to Martinez and Morel as if either had any bearing on Dickerson not being on the 40-man. That’s ridiculous. They play completely different positions and have no bearing on one another. Unless you are contending that Dickerson could back up 3B and SS.

      • Dickerson was more valuable for the Pirates to keep him, then for whatever cash or low level scrub they eventually get. With Marte’s physical and strikeout issues this year, and now Cutch going down, he would have been a player who could produce at a high level for 2-3 weeks. He did it for the Orioles a couple of years ago.

        Why trade him away for essentially nothing? the excuse was he wasn’t on the 40 man, but we keep absolute stiffs like Decker, Morel, Martinez, etc. on the 40 man roster. Just because Decker is a former first round pick and they have to justify the stupid trade that brought him here, they keep him hoping he will turn into Ken Griffey Jr someday.

        • Ian Rothermund
          August 5, 2014 7:26 am

          I was under the impression that Dickerson had one of those contracts that would eventually allow him to be released if he didn’t get promoted. Maybe not, but I thought that was a factor.

          • If you are right Ian, that does possibly explain the trade. However, it doesn’t explain why they did not use him earlier in the season, when Polanco was still in Indy and RF was a disaster for the first 2 months of the season.

    • Yeah, we all know you could do a better job than Neil has done with this franchise! Please, give me break, whining about Chris freakin Dickerson.

      • Oh, so now no one can ever criticize Hurdle or the front office because they know more?? No kidding – they better – that is what they’re getting paid to do. I suppose you never criticize Hurdle or any other coach or GM?? Give me a break.

        I am quite aware that Neal Huntington knows more about baseball operations and player development than I do. But, that doesn’t mean he cannot make mistakes and be questioned about them. I know I would never have made the Ike Davis trade or the Bryan Morris trade – and people are too stubborn to admit they were both bad decisions. And, if I would have traded Morris, I wouldn’t have used the pick to draft Connor Joe. If he turns into a regular MLB player, you can remind me I was wrong about him.

        I also wouldn’t stubbornly keep guys like Pimentel. Frieri, and Gomez in the bullpen and hamstring my manager in the process. Hurdle doesn’t have a full bullpen, because 3 guys cannot be trusted to pitch in a close game.

        At the end of this season, if this team misses the playoffs by 3-4 games – you can point to the front office – it is their decision making that is hurting this team and has all season. The only relatively good decision made this year was Volquez – and even that is debatable given he has an ERA of almost 4.00. He is just serviceable for the most part and hopefully there will be no need to keep him next year.

        • Yes, God forbid we ever blame the players for their performance. And player development is the job of the coaching staff, not the GM. That same coaching staff also has input on the roster as well, so in the end, it’s the team to blame for the team’s failures and not one part of it. Everything is connected

          • You need to re-read my post – I never criticized player development. All my criticisms concern player personnel decisions – trades, decisions on 40 man roster, etc.

            Another example…we have a kid at Indy who has overcome a lot of injuries over the past couple of years – in d’Arnaud – who is very fast, athletic, and can play SS, 2B, 3B, and OF. He’s been very hot lately and has his average about .250. He can steal bases and could be a spark we need for a week or two. But, instead, we go out and get a veteran retread (Nix) with a .216 career BA. Really?

            We are now hurting at 1B, 3B, LF, and now CF. Polanco and Marte have to step up – big. Its now their time. Either one could slide over to CF. Snider is a good PH and can produce in a platoon – but his performance seems to suffer when he plays every day. So, we need another OFer to be part of the mix – and it cannot be Martinez or Decker. Lambo and/or Rojas would be better options IMHO. Harrison can also play with this group.

            Given Cutch being out, I think we have to sink or swim with Alvarez at 3B – except against certain left handers. We just have to hope he gets hot over the next 2-3 weeks and picks up the slack. I cannot imagine we can move him to first base during the season. Otherwise, scoring runs may be a real challenge.

            • No you do criticize player development, if only indirectly. “I also wouldn’t stubbornly keep guys like Pimentel. Frieri, and Gomez in the bullpen and hamstring my manager in the process.” Guys like Pimentel and Frieri have good stuff and/or a strong history of success in the MLB or as a prospect. As players, they haven’t developed and their poor performance is hamstringing your manager as much as the GM’s decision to keep them in the MLB. So yes, you clearly have a beef with player development.

              So your answer to a veteran retread is a 28 year old minor league veteran with a career average that’s even lower than the retread’s (.208)? d’Arnaud is no kid, and his time is past. There is no cost to giving Nix a try, and I don’t know how he isn’t an upgrade over d’Arnaud, who isn’t even posting decent AAA numbers right now despite being hot.

              I agree that they have holes. But I’d pick up a player in a waiver trade to fill the hole in the OF before giving Rojas his 3rd new uniform in 3 months or forcing an poor platoon option in Lambo to get the lion’s share of AB’s.

              I agree about Pedro, but I’d play him against everybody. Confidence is part of his mental problems, and if it even has the slightest chance of working, I give Pedro his shot at everybody. No more benching, no more extra work, make him forget about his problems and let the guy play the game with no added pressure for the next month. He is the only other player on this roster that has Cutch’s run producing capabilities.

              • Ian Rothermund
                August 5, 2014 7:29 am

                I agree with the Pedro talk. At this point he provides the greatest possible offensive potential, and would at least allow Harrison to drop back.

              • #1 – Your definition of player development is much different than I have ever heard or read.

                #2 – Pimentel is young and throws hard – that is it. His career minor league numbers are a mixed bag at best – at every level he has pitched at. But we hold onto him like he will be the next Bob Gibson.

                #3 – Frieri hasn’t been good in over 2 years – yet we are somehow going to wave a magic wand over him and restore him to his previous performance level. At the cost of at least 2 games that i recall.

                #4 – You are being deliberately deceptive in comparing d’Arnaud’s major league average average to Nix – as I doubt if d’Arnaud even has 150 at bats in the majors. So, that is a nonsense statement. Yes, I would have given him the shot over Nix.

  • Scott Kliesen
    August 4, 2014 5:18 pm

    A tough loss for sure. But this is baseball, not basketball. A team’s fortunes do not lie on any one player. Even one as good as Cutch. For example, the Pirates went on a roll after the All Star break even though Cutch was in the worst slump of the season.

    • During that slump McCutchen still got on base a .357 rate. Not too many bigger impacts than losing a player projected for 1.0 WAR over a month.

      • Scott Kliesen
        August 4, 2014 8:50 pm

        Worst player to lose, but my point is in baseball losing even the best player on a team doesn’t mean the team’s W/L record will automatically suffer like in other sports.

  • Arizona came out of that series looking like a bunch of Bush League clowns.

    • They were a AAA team at best – with all their trades and injuries – and we could only get a split with them. That should have been an easy 3 out of 4, possible sweep.

      • Joe Sweetnich
        August 4, 2014 5:40 pm

        Can’t help but think Tony LaRussa played some part in the fiasco.

        • I was thinking…that series felt like a series against the Cardinals with a manager losing his mind about nothing, beaning one of the Pirates players for nothing, then getting out of town with a close late win to end it.

  • If the HBP contributed to this, MLB must look into this so-called tradition of retaliation. And even if it didn’t!

    • The HBP probably did have something to do with the injury. He could have tweaked his back just turning to try and avoid the pitch. Many times a muscle injury occurs before the final movement, but the final movement takes the blame.

      • I have zero respect for Kirk Gibson and the entire AZ organization. The only person who handled this professionally appears to be Goldschmidt.

    • I don’t think the HBP hurt Andrew McCutchen. I think Andrew McCutchen
      hurt Andrew McCutchen. He lost his temper, which is very unusual for
      him, and I think he overexerted himself on the swing in an attempt to
      win the game trying to get back at the DBacks. He took their bait, and
      he hurt his team doing so