PITTSBURGH - MAY 23: Ryan Doumit #41 of the Pittsburgh Pirates slides into David Ross #8 of the Atlanta Braves during the game on May 23, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Doumit was called out on the play. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Ugh. What sense does this make?
The Pirates apparently are set to go out of their way to get him in the lineup, mostly in right field, some at catcher, and a bit at first base. But that does not, by itself, demonstrate their determination. Lastings Milledge, who appears to be finding his footing, will not play as much. And now, yesterday, John Russell even allowed that Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata will be getting rested, his explanation being that he does not want to wear those two down.
The P-G goes on to wonder why the Pirates would worry about wearing McCutchen and Tabata down, and I wonder the same thing. Weird injuries aside, if anyone is capable of playing every day, it's McCutchen, who's young and incredibly athletic, and has no history of nagging problems. He played 157 games last year. And starting Doumit ahead of Milledge - why? Doumit is the better hitter against righties, but Doumit still only has a .797 career OPS against them, and Milledge is the better defensive player. And, more importantly, it isn't like the Pirates are chasing a pennant here. One reason to send Milledge out there against righties is so that he'll improve, and really be able to hit them by the time the Bucs really need him to.
If the Pirates want to play Doumit one day a week in the outfield, fine. I suppose there's nothing to really complain about until we see what they actually do. But the Post-Gazette makes it sound like he'll play a whole lot. Doumit has talent and isn't without his uses - as an occasional catcher, and as a pinch-hitter. But without some defensive ability, he's a bench player. One thing I really liked about the Chris Snyder acquisition was that it signaled that the Pirates recognized Doumit's limitations. Let's hope that's really what that trade meant. I suppose it's possible that, freed from the physical (and mental) demands of catching, Doumit's bat will catch fire. But I doubt it, and even then I'm not sure what purpose that will serve - if he can't catch, he just isn't the sort of player who will fetch much on the trade market.