Down the order and throughout the clubhouse, the Pirates are waiting for Pedro Alvarez's arrival.
Almost as eagerly as their long-suffering fan base.
The clock is down to minutes, hours, days. Alvarez could appear in a Pirates uniform, at third base, in the order directly behind Tabata, Walker and McCutchen or somewhere thereafter, maybe at No. 5. It could happen as early as Friday in an interleague series opener against the Cleveland Indians or perhaps even the set starting today against the Chicago White Sox. It could happen next week before a nine-day road trip.
It will happen.
That's pouring it on a bit thick, isn't it? I don't want to dampen the enthusiasm, because I'm psyched about Pedro too, but I worry that we're going to be disappointed if we expect too much. He should help--any halfway competent ballplayer would--but he isn't a savior. John Russell, of all people, gets it right:
"The biggest thing people need to realize, he's going to have to continue to make adjustments when he gets here. It's not like he's going to step in and be a 30 home run guy from the start."
Maybe he will, but probably not. Alvarez struggled for a while after starting the season with Indianapolis, and he also struggled a bit in his first exposure to pro ball, with Lynchburg. He still has 67 strikeouts in 239 at bats in Indianapolis and will probably struggle some to hit for a high average. And his defense has never been particularly good.
Alvarez is the best prospect to come through the Pirates' system in a while, and he'll probably be a very good player, hopefully a star. His performance at Indianapolis has been excellent, particularly in the last few weeks. But if the Pirates want to keep him at Indianapolis another week or two to make sure he can sustain that production, or if they want to continue to work with him on his strikeout issues, I don't see any problem with that.
Alvarez is important, but the exact date of his callup isn't an issue of grand cosmic significance. The new column by Ron Cook suggests that Neal Huntington should promote Alvarez to save his (Huntington's) job, yet also manages to imply that Huntington isn't promoting Alvarez because of Huntington's selfish fear that he will lose his job if Alvarez flops.
Leaving aside for now the question of whether Huntington's job is actually in jeopardy, Cook is making a mountain out of a molehill. The exact date of the promotion of Pedro Alvarez--whether it's June 15, or July 15, or maybe even some religious holiday or something--really has no bearing on the results of Huntington's trades, or his failure to sign Miguel Sano. (Seriously, that's in the article.) The probable reasons Alvarez is still in the minors are that he struggled to start the year, that he still strikes out a lot, and that Huntington and Kyle Stark are cautious about promotions, as they should be. That's all. Let's not freak out about it.