The Pirates have continued to win games despite their injury riddled offense and help finally appears to be on the horizon. A trade deadline addition would be nice, but first let’s take a look at the internal help that will/could be returning in the near future:
Ronny Cedeno: .252/.311/.346 in 2011
Cedeno will be a two-fold upgrade. His defense has been excellent this year, and while D’Arnaud has been solid on defense Cedeno should be an upgrade there. On offense the difference will be more noticeable. Despite his maddening inconsistency, Cedeno’s .252/.311/.346 line will be a significant upgrade on D’Arnaud’s .224/.250/.294. Hopefully this will provide an opportunity for D’Arnaud to go back to Indy and continue developing for the future.
Jose Tabata .265/.351/.354 in 2011
Tabata’s return will force some lineup decisions. You aren’t likely to sit Presley the way he is currently hitting, and I don’t envision them relegating Tabata to the bench when he is healthy. In all likelihood this will cause a decision to be made regarding Overbay’s future as the starting first baseman. Jones could move to first and platoon with Pearce, allowing for an excellent defensive outfield of Tabata/McCutchen/Presley. If Overbay is replaced by Jones at first it essentially means you are replacing Overbay’s .239/.308/.362 line with Tabata. Drop off in power, but Tabata actually gets on base (not buying the current hot streak from Lyle).
Steve Pearce .291/.339/.382 in 2011
Pearce is a little tricky to evaluate, mainly because he hasn’t played all that many games this year or last year. In the action he has seen in 2010 and 2011 he has been effective. Pearce would take over the Diaz role as the other have of Garret Jones platoon at 1B, or would be the starting 3B upon his return. His production this year would be an upgrade at either spot. Diaz has hit for a .271/.303/.343 line while Wood (.221/.294/.366) and Harrison (.266/.274/.309) have both been subpar offensively this season.
Ryan Doumit .269/.333/.441 in 2011
While McKenry has done an admirable job filling in, and even when Doumit returns should get some starts, he has been markedly worse with the bat than Doumit this season. Doumit played acceptable defense when he wasn’t used every day, and if they continue that when he returns there is no reason to expect him to be a major defensive liability. On offense, McKenry is hitting .238/.270/.321, and while he has improved in recent weeks he is a downgrade offensively.
The wildcard: Pedro Alvarez .208/.283/.304 in 2011, .256/.326/.461 in 2010
As several people have noted, Alvarez has been killing AAA pitching over his last several games. If he can come up and hit for power, even with a low average, he would provide a significant boost to the offense. On the other hand, if he comes up and hits the way he did earlier this year Pearce might be a better option. Here’s hoping that Pedro has fixed some of the issues with his approach and is ready to help out at the major league level.
Breaking things down like this seems to suggest there is a reasonable amount of help on the way, even if an addition is not made at the deadline. These guys may not be superstars, but they are better (at least offensively) than the guys the Pirates have been winning with the past few weeks. Hopefully the additional offense can help offset some of the likely regression by guys like Karstens and Maholm heading into the second half.