There's been a lot of discussion recently about how to make room for Gregory Polanco when he arrives, presumably within the next week, and most of it has centered on Travis Snider and Jose Tabata. But I'm wondering if, with Josh Harrison's recent surge at the plate, we ought to be considering Clint Barmes as a candidate for release.
Offensively, he's the worst of the bunch, but his defense ranges from above-average to stellar, which is something to consider. Snider, at least when starting, is almost as bad average-wise with the bat and his defense is nothing special. On the other hand, he's the only left-handed pinch hitter we have. And he's also pretty good at it, batting something like .300 when coming off the bench.
And if you think that's insignificant, consider that the Pirates are second in the majors with 101 pinch-hitting at-bats. They trail only San Diego, which has 102. The next-closest team is Miami, with 85 pinch-hitting attempts. Simply put, Clint Hurdle pinch hits a lot, and Snider is the only guy on the current roster who does it from the left side of the plate. And he's good at it.
Releasing Barmes would make Harrison the primary backup at short, second and third -- which is asking a lot. But as solid as his bat has been lately, you needed to create opportunities for him to be in the lineup anyway if Polanco will be taking his spot in right.
The only other alternative is releasing Tabata, and I'd hate to do that because his combination of offense and defense make him the most likely candidate to replace any of the outfielders if they're out for a prolonged period of time. He's also a pretty effective pinch hitter.
I'm not crazy about cutting Barmes, but I guess I just think with all the pinch hitting Hurdle likes to do, I'd rather have as many productive bats on the bench as possible -- particularly a lefthanded one -- even if it means occasionally taking your chances with Harrison at short for a inning or game or two.