There was a discussion earlier today in the Adam LaRoche thread about my position regarding Garrett Jones, Steve Pearce and Nyjer Morgan, and this seems as relevant as ever, what with Nyjer in town and Milledge's arrival potentially jeopardizing some of Jones' playing time.
If I seem wishy-washy about these three guys, it's because I don't think any of them are very good. We can't get too excited about small sample sizes. I know there were some people here championing Jones back when he was still in the minors, but most who have argued passionately on his behalf have done so since he came up to the majors. When you have a 1500 at bat sample telling you one thing and a 100 at bat sample telling you another, you should weight the 1500 at bat sample a lot more heavily. Jones' last three years in the minors have been distinctly unimpressive, so his (admittedly brilliant) performance so far this year is probably mostly just the world's biggest sample-size fluke. And yes, minor league stats matter. It's not reasonable to claim that Jones was blocked in Minnesota (the obvious conclusion being that he's going crazy now because he's finally getting the chance the Twins unfairly denied him). He wasn't blocked. He never earned a chance. Major league promotions aren't given at random, and minor-league stats, particularly AAA stats, matter.
Morgan is a slightly different story. I do think a lot of the improvements he's made this year are legitimate, but I still can't get too excited, because he's still 29 and still has no power at all, so he's playing at the absolute peak of his abilities. He won't get any better than he's played so far this year, and he isn't likely to have a long career. To my eyes, he's improved from a mediocre, unpredictable defender to a sure-handed one; I'm not sure what changed, really, but if he can continue to do that, he's a good role player for a contending team. But since I wouldn't bet on him still playing well a few years from now, and that's when the Pirates would need him.
As for Pearce: it's not that I think he's good, it's that I think he has some remote chance to be good. Neither Morgan nor Jones have ever had a full season as promising as the one Pearce put up in 2007, when he was the Hitter of the Year for all the minor leagues. He also improved every month at Indianapolis this year. He might as well have stayed at home in 2008, though, and now he's 26. I argued passionately for him in 2007 and before 2008, but that moment has passed.
I'm not sure any of the three are particularly helpful for what the Pirates are trying to achieve. If someone wants to argue for Jones over Pearce, I think that's defensible--not because Jones is any good, but because neither of them are good. If I seem overly negative about Jones, that's probably because, in my opinion, a lot of people, including John Russell, have gotten far too excited over a career minor leaguer on a hot streak. If you want to stump for Jones, go ahead, but please understand if I don't come to your rally. If it's any consolation, I'm not carrying signs for Pearce anymore, either. I'm probably done with Brandon Moss, too, who's already gotten plenty of time to prove he's little more than a decent fourth outfielder.