The left side of the Pirates infield has been horrendously bad to start the season. Small sample size is no longer the excuse. After tonight the Bucs will be 10% into their season. Numbers never tell the whole story, but the reality is the eyes probably tell you things are as bad as the numbers show them to be.
Pedro is off to a .193/.258/.228 for a .486 OPS non-start (.297 babip). He leads the NL in strikeouts with 20 (32.3%) and has two extra base hits. He looks terrible at the plate, swinging at pitches out of the zone, taking pitches over the middle of the plate and trying to pull everything. Yesterday's first at-bat was a perfect example. After the Pirates started the game, HR, HR, walk, double, Alvarez came to the plate. He took a 1-2, 95 mph fastball right down the middle for a called strike three. In the field he has been erratic. He comes in on balls very well and has a cannon. But he already has three errors and needs to make the routine play every time. His error on a routine grounder on Saturday paved the way to the Reds 7-run inning that blew open the game.
At this point you can't send Pedro down. He deserves at least another month to get things sorted out. But, you don't have to run him out there every day and I'd start by sitting him tonight against a lefthander. I realize Pedro is a pull and power hitter, but he needs to start driving some balls the other way, rather than rolling over the top and grounding out to second. The Pirates have invested a lot in the kid and encouragement and patience should continue to be the approach.
Not so with Ronny Cedeno. As hard as it is to believe Cedeno has been worse than Alvarez. Much worse--.167/.224/.190 for a .415 OPS. Similar to Alvarez, Cedeno can make spectacular plays in the field. His over the shoulder catch Friday night was Play of the Day on the MLB Network and he made an excellent backhanded stop to start the game Sunday and he also has a great arm. But in total his defense is well-below an acceptable standard. He has been charged with three errors so far, but that number could easily be 7 or 8. He has failed to turn double plays at least three times that quickly jump to mind because he bobbled a ball hit to him. Another time he couldn't make a throw to the plate due to a bobble. Top that off with the two worst decisions made by any player on the team so far this year, both in the 8th inning yesterday (see Charlie's game story) and it's time to do something.
His two mental errors yesterday show he is either in his own world or he has no sense of the game situation. You cannot bunt with the go-ahead run on third a runner on first, no outs and the infield playing back. It was a crazy bad decision. The decision to advance to third on Cutch's single was beyond comprehension so I have nothing to add. It's time for him to sit, for more than one game. The problem is the Pirates are naked at the position. Rule 5 pick Josh Rodriguez has only had 8 ABs and struck out 5 times, looking overmatched on most occasions. So be it. Time to give hime 2-3 starts in a row to see what happens. Honestly, the expression it can't get worse applies here.
In the minors Pedro Ciriaco is off to a terrible start in Indy hitting .059, OPS .145. Those numbers defy description. As expected Chase d'Arnaud has cooled. He's 2-17 in the last four games and he is .263/.378/.421 for a .799 OPS. He has potential, but he's already 24 and he posted an OPS of .708 at AA last year. He isn't ready to play in the majors after only 10 games at AAA and he really isn't going to be the answer any time this season.
Last week I posted an article suggesting a trade to acquire Jed Lowrie from the Red Sox. Lowrie went 4-5 with a homer and 4 RBIs today. He's now hitting.516 with an OPS of a trillion. He may be winning the starting job and clearly isn't going to be available during the season. (Also, in that game Dice-K went 7, gave up 1H, 0R, 1BB, 3K, throwing 89 pitches. I think the two of them would look damn good in black 7 gold at the moment, but it isn't going to happen.)
But if Lowrie isn't available, maybe Marco Scutaro is. He's making $5 million this year with a club option for $6 million next year (player option of $3 million) and a $1.5 million buyout. Doumit for Scutaro matches perfectly in salary, opens up SS for Lowrie in Boston and gives the Sox some lefthanded punch and some catching depth. This trade makes too much sense not to at least give Boston a call.
Some have suggested Jack Wilson, also making $5 million this year with Seattle, as an option. I don't see that happening. Wilson is terrible with the bat and while he can still make some plays in the field as evidenced by this web gem earlier in the season, there is a reason he isn't the starting shortstop on a bad Mariners team. Last year he put up a .598 OPS and this year he is Cedenoesque at .188/.188/.219 for a .406.
Everybody understands that 80 wins this season would be a dream season. 75 would be a big improvement. 70 is expected. Clearly, the Pirates aren't going to contend. But, that doesn't mean you sit still. The Cedeno Era needs to end and the Pirates are going to have to go outside the organization to do it. No time like the present.
UPDATE: Pedro is sitting tonight in favor of Pearce. Cedeno is in the lineup.