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News Roundup: Steve Pearce--Confident or Cocky?

-P- Here's an interesting article about Steve Pearce in a website dedicated to his alma mater.

“I’ve always been told my swing wouldn’t work, this wouldn’t work, that wouldn’t work,” Pearce says. “But it’s all about going out here and working hard and staying within yourself, not trying to do too much and basically not taking no for an answer"...

There is one other characteristic with Pearce: He is extremely confident in his ability to hit. After being selected in the eighth round of the 2005 draft, Pearce surprised everyone but himself by quickly ascending through the Pittsburgh farm system. He hit 31 home runs going from High A-level ball to the major leagues in 2007, earning Pittsburgh’s minor league player-of-the-year honor along the way.

Tanner recalls how Pearce would occasionally go hitless in four at-bats at USC. Tanner would turn his head in the dugout and hear Pearce boasting about being “the best oh-for-four hitter in the country.”

At the close of fall practice one season, Pearce and Steve Tolleson were in a dead-heat for the club batting crown. Tanner recalls Pearce getting into Tolleson’s face and telling his teammate he “had no chance of winning,” with one practice game remaining. Sure enough, Tolleson got two hits. Pearce won with three.

How do you read something like this? Is Pearce a gutsy gamer and a winner, like Lenny Dykstra was? Or is he just cocky and uncoachable? Probably it's just a matter of perspective--when he's hitting, he's the gamer, and when he's not, he's just stubborn.

This is why it's unwise to make rash judgements about players' personalities, except in extreme, Elijah Dukes-like situations. When there was a brouhaha over Ian Snell's absence from the Arizona Fall League in 2005, he was a hothead who wouldn't listen to his coaches, and fans immediately took to message boards to declare they wanted him off the team; the very next season, he emerged as one of the Pirates' best players, and was one of the few on that team who seemed to care that the Bucs were losing. In 2007, Shawn Chacon appeared to be a team leader and a steady veteran presence in the clubhouse; the next season, he was out of baseball after attacking his GM at the time, Houston's Ed Wade

The issue of team chemistry is a pretty fluid one to begin with--a fiery player might be perceived as exactly what a team needs in one case, and a complete pain to deal with in another. And we fans only get part of the picture, and the part we do get is informed as much by the team's performance and by the motivations of those offering the quotes as it is by the player in question's actual attitude. It's best to just stay out of it, in my opinion. Ultimately, we can judge Pearce by his performance.

-P- Some of you might have been hoping that the Pirates could take advantage of the Rays' rotation surplus to grab a free starting pitcher, but we can forget about that. The Pirates don't have much to offer, and the Rays aren't pushovers. Tampa has traded Jason Hammel to Colorado for a pretty good pitching prospect in Aneury Rodriguez. Rodriguez seems to have issues with his changeup and thus is pretty likely to be a back-end starter or a reliever, but he has a good minor-league record. I'm not a huge fan of Hammel, who has yet to have an impressive season in the majors, so this looks like a good deal for the Rays. Jeff Niemann will be their fifth starter.

-P- The Cubs have released a pretty decent reliever/swingman in Chad Gaudin. Gaudin was bad down the stretch last year and bad this spring, but he's had stretches of competence, and he can eat innings. Maybe the Pirates can lure him with the promise of an important role in the 'pen. Probably not, but it's worth asking about.