The Post-Gazette's comment earlier today about Neil Walker playing like a "promotion candidate" got me to thinking about which such candidates might help the offense. Obviously, we only know a little more than we knew a couple weeks ago, and two weeks of baseball isn't much, so it's early to jump to conclusions, but it's never too early to start thinking. Walker, much to his credit, has played very well so far, with a .914 OPS and (critically, for him) more walks than strikeouts. Jon Van Every, Luke Carlin and Brandon Jones have also hit well. Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata have been fine, but we aren't likely to see either of them until June or so (and if Alvarez keeps hitting .233, he really should stay at Indianapolis for a while anyway).
The player who might really be able to help, though, is Steve Pearce. Pearce has been at Indianapolis long enough to run for city council, but he's off to a blistering start (with a 1.219 OPS) and, historically, he hits lefties hard. The Pirates as a team have a .742 OPS against righties, which is fine, but only a .580 OPS against lefties. The problem with bringing up Pearce to address that balance is that most of the Pirates' offensive problems have come from their starters, and it's too early to give up on any of them. Their bench has been excellent, with Delwyn Young, Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby leading the way. So it's hard to see where anyone new would fit in right now on the offense. If there are any injuries, though, Pearce is the guy I'd like to see.
Anyway, Indianapolis faces Phil Dumatrait and the Toledo Mud Hens today. Brad Lincoln will pitch in what might well be an audition for a temporarily vacant big-league rotation spot--the Pirates haven't decided who will pitch on Saturday. Mike Crotta starts for Altoona tonight against Akron. In Bradenton, Brian Leach starts against the Jupiter Hammerheads. And for West Virginia, Nate Baker (who was rock solid in his first two starts) faces Asheville. All games are at 7:00.