7:05 PM, FSNP, WPGB
John Maine vs. Matt Morris.
A bunch of roster moves today, all of them demonstrating the Pirates' pathetic lack of depth.
First, Ryan Doumit was placed on the DL with a sprained ligament in his wrist. He should be back within a couple of weeks. The Pirates called up Carlos Maldonado from Indianapolis, which allows them to use quasi-catcher Josh Phelps at a variety of other positions. Of course, nothing would really prevent the Pirates from doing this anyway even without an extra catcher on the roster. We've debated before about whether it makes any sense for the Pirates to carry three catchers, and this type of move is the reason why - Maldonado is a complete waste of roster space, and he hasn't even been a good Class AAA catcher this year, posting a .595 OPS for Indianapolis. (Humberto Cota, who's on the DL down there, must really be hating life right now.) Again, if the Bucs are considering using Phelps as a backup catcher next year, why not just let him do that now and call up Steve Pearce? They were planning on giving him a September callup anyway, and with Doumit and Xavier Nady nursing injuries, there's no better time to get a look at Pearce.
Anyway, the Pirates also designated Masumi Kuwata for assignment, replacing him on the roster with Matt Kata. For months, it has been obvious that Kuwata isn't going to help at all, but he stayed on the roster anyway, probably for PR reasons and also because there just wasn't anyone on the Indy roster who could pitch. Of course, Kata, like Maldonado, is completely pointless and probably won't help at all.
The Pirates' reliance on players like Kata, Maldonado, Don Kelly and John Wasdin is actually one of the more interesting stories of their season. They repeatedly call up terrible players regardless of their performance at Class AAA and despite the fact that absolutely no one wants them. They designate these players for assignment and it doesn't matter because they get through waivers, and then they're mediocre or outright bad at Class AAA and the Pirates recall them anyway. I don't have any data on how often other teams rely on players like this, but my sense is that this is really pretty unusual, and not in a good way. Some of these moves are unnecessary, but some of them are just the result of a sad lack of capable reinforcements.
The results of this lack of depth are that the Pirates always seem to have a player or two at the back of their bench who they're scared to use, and that there's no one to step in when someone else in their bullpen falls apart. The Pirates have eleven pitchers with season ERAs above 5.50.
In a procedural move, the Pirates also moved Zach Duke to the 60-day DL to open roster space. Duke will be eligible to come back at the end of the month.