Minor league thread . . . and pinch hitting

It seems as though the Pirates always have a day off after something significant happens, like the big comeback in Los Angeles of Anaheim or a win against the A's. Anyway, we'll see how many of these minor league games get off the ground. The GCL Pirates have already been rained out.

Indianapolis (Kris Johnson - 8-4, 2.86) is at Louisville at 7:05.

Altoona (Eliecer Navarro - 1-2, 6.14) is at Akron at 7:05.

Bradenton (Zack Dodson - 1-6, 5.19) is at Palm Beach at 6:35.

West Virginia (Clay Holmes (pictured) - 2-5, 4.89) will resume last night's suspended game at Kannapolis with the score 3-0 in favor of the Power after three innings. The game will resume at 5:00 and will go nine innings. The regularly scheduled game (Thomas Harlan - 3-3, 2.40) will go seven innings.

Jamestown (Chad Kuhl - 0-0, 0.00) is at Hudson Valley at 7:05.

With the trade deadline approaching, a lot of the Pirate-related discussion has focused on the bench. The reason for this is probably that the Pirates' bench sucks. One of the ways this can be seen is looking at the team's pinch hitting. Pirate pinch hitters currently rank 13th in the NL in OPS (.546), 12th in average (.192), 12th in OBP (.266) and 14th in slugging (.280). The Cubs' pitchers have a higher slugging average than the Pirates' pinch hitters. (It could be worse; there are three teams whose pitchers have a higher OPS than Brandon Inge.) The NL average for pinch hitters is 230/290/344.

Here are all the Pirates with more than two plate appearances as pinch hitters:

Alex Presley -- 429/429/857 (3-7, 1 HR)
Garrett Jones -- 231/333/308 (3-13)
Jose Tabata -- 200/294/267 (3-15)
Jordy Mercer -- 200/333/400 (1-5)
Travis Snider -- 174/174/304 (4-23, 1 HR)
Brandon Inge -- 158/158/158 (3-19)
Gaby Sanchez -- 125/318/188 (2-16, 4 BB)
Josh Harrison -- 111/111/111 (1-9)
Mike McKenry -- 000/000/000 (0-8)

So . . . the team's only effective pinch hitter is a guy who's in AAA because he's not better than Brandon Inge. These days, there are teams that obtain players just to be pinch hitters down the stretch, with the idea that a Jim Thome or Jason Giambi might run into a couple and make a real difference. It's easy to excuse carrying useless players simply by saying "he's just the 25th man" (except the Pirates seem to have several of these 25th men). The Cardinals, though, didn't use that excuse to hang on to Ty Wigginton, and they already had a much better bench than the Pirates. Every day I write a minor league recap that mentions multiple AAA players who at least have a chance to be significant upgrades for the team's bench. Teams that are serious about contending don't satisfy themselves with a bench stocked with below-replacement-level players.

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