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New York Mets vs. Pittsburgh, 14 August 2007

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7:05 PM, FSNP, WPGB

Orlando Hernandez (7-4, 3.05) vs. Ian Snell (7-10, 3.87).

The Post-Gazette reports that Josh Phelps could play a key role on next year's bench.

"He looks more and more like a real nice piece on the bench," manager Jim Tracy said...

Phelps has done a lot of catching in the bullpen since joining the Pirates.

"He looks terrific receiving the ball," Tracy said.

What about the other stuff, though? Blocking balls in the dirt? Throwing out would-be base stealers?

"That might not be pretty," Tracy conceded. "But I'm not expecting miracles. I'm really not. But this guy completely understands the environment and his role. He gets it. That's what you love about the guy. He's a pro."

And professionals generally make pretty good bench guys.

Quick, which sentence tipped you off to the fact that it was written by Paul Meyer? Yeah, professionals definitely make good bench players. Like Abraham Nunez, pinch-hitter extraordinaire.

Anyway, call me crazy, but if Phelps is going to be on the 2008, wouldn't it behoove the Pirates to give him more than 30 at bats in two months to actually see what he can do? If the Pirates might use him as a backup catcher, wouldn't it be a good idea, in the midst of a last-place season and with a starting catcher who has absolutely killed them, to let Phelps actually catch a few games?

Not that I'm surprised, but the way the Pirates are behaving is really irresponsible - they're acting like a contender rather than the last-place team that they are. In the last two weeks, they've traded for Matt Morris' contract, refused to deal free-agent-to-be Shawn Chacon, and entertained the possibility that Phelps and Ryan Doumit will have expanded roles on the 2008 team without, you know, actually expanding their roles on a long-lost 2007 team.

If Doumit is really the right fielder of the future - and the Post-Gazette has written many times recently that the Pirates are thinking about this - then why was Doumit not playing every day as recently as a week ago, by which point Xavier Nady had already missed a week due to injury? And why am I positive that Doumit will be back on the bench when Nady returns?