It is easy to complain about the offense. We need to get rid of so and so and we need to add this. Well I am going to try and break down a little bit of who should and who should not go. What is broken with the offense and what possible fixes we can make with what we already have.
Step 1. Fire Ritchie and bring in a new hitting coach. If for no other reason than a change of environment. The biggest flaw with this team is that they are not putting runners on base. They were built on speed and not power. The problem is that speed doesn't do you any good from the dugout. They are hitting .305 when swinging at the first pitch. The problem is when you take McCutchen out of that, they are only hitting .284. You are giving the pitcher a gift when you swing at the first pitch and do not get a hit. This team has an incredible knack for lengthening the start of opposing pitchers. You look at a team like Atlanta who is hitting .383 with an 0-0 count. This is where you should be when being aggressive at the plate. I can't tell you how many times I have seen guys swinging at the first pitch and driving it into the ground. If you are going to go up there and just try to give three defensive swings hoping to put the ball in play, then find another profession. The bigger problem is the swings and misses that put us in pitchers counts over and over again. Barmes is 1-13 when hitting the first pitch. Casey McGehee is 2-14. If the hitting coach can't recognize this and have these vets work the count then he needs to redo his resume. Do your research and realize what the pitcher might bring you for the first pitch. If he throws you that pitch, in the location you are looking, then hit the snot out of it. Anything else just let it go by. You will have a pitch later in the count that you can drive into the ground at second base. No reason you need to do it on the first pitch.
Step 2. Recognize the players who need to stay and who need to go. Casey Mcgehee while only hitting 2-14 when swinging at the first pitch has attributes still. He is fourth on the team with OBP. He also is striking out at a lesser rate than many other players on the team. This leads me to believe that McGehee, just like Barajas are going to even things out over the season and be adequate players.
Nate Mclouth on the other hand is striking out 32% of the time and has very little value to the team. Barmes is striking out 29% of the time which is worrisome. He is being over aggressive early in the count, still isn't hitting the ball well and getting into horrible counts extremely often. I don't know how to fix him. First thing would be to have him be more patient at the plate, if you are going to be an out, at least be a hard out. Garret Jones is also striking out at a 29% clip and isn't getting on base at all. Worst, as everyone could expect is Pedro Alvarez who is striking out 39.8% of the time. He showed glimpses of being a good hitter, but he just can't shake the strikeouts.
A. Keep McGehee, I think he will have value down the road for us.
B. Get rid of McLouth. he provides nothing for us and is part of the reason our PH is so awful.
C. Look for a replacement to Barmes. I hate to eat the contract, but he was brought in for his defense and even that is not looking so great. I wish we would have made a deal for Iglesias now, if we aren't going to have offense, I'd at least like a sured up defense.
D. Jones value isn't very high. Dealing him doesn't make much sense right now so I think you have to play him until his value goes up.
E. Obviously Pedro is going to continue to get regular at bats. Why not move him back in the lineup, or even up to 2nd to try to help him out. Don't you think he would see a few more hittable pitches with Cutch hitting behind him?
F. Navarro needs to be sent down as well. Our bench is horrid right now and we can't afford to have him getting regular at bats and hoping it comes together. I would have much rather kept Hague up and given him the at bats.
Summary. Immediately out: Mclouth and Navarro.
Cut back playing time and look for replacement : Barmes
Hoping they get better: Jones, McGehee
Keep tinkering with: Alvarez
Bring in: Clement, Mercer
Hopefully our pitching will keep us in the race until we are able to flip some B- pitching prospects for some guys who might be able to get on base.