Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable – How soon should we see McCutchen?

Please note that many of these responses were submitted before the trade of Xavier Nady.
Question:
Should the Pirates bring up Andrew McCutchen as soon as there is an opening for him in the everyday lineup? Or should he remain in Triple-A for further development, regardless of the situation in Pittsburgh?

Dave from Bucs Trade Winds
The determining factor in whether McCutchen is called up is who gets traded. If Nady is the one to go, I would think Pearce is the logical choice for a call up since he is a right fielder and would take Nady’s spot in the batting order.
McCutchen will get the call only if Jason Bay is traded, allowing McCutchen to move into the left field slot and bat in the leadoff position. I would see McLouth dropping in the order to fill the 3 spot that would be vacated by Bay.
Honestly, I think McCutchen is slated for a late season call-up when rosters expand. The extra time spent in AAA would still serve him well. While he has a nice season to date ( .281 average, 9 HR, 25 SB and 16 CS), Bixler has had a better batting average (.283) and more success stealing bases ( 12 SB, 4 CS) and 6 home runs in nearly half the games. We all saw how Bixler struggled with his early season call while Wilson was on the shelf. Another concern is the caught stealing numbers McCutchen has put up. Extra time in Indy would allow him to continue to improve his base running/stealing part of his game.
My one warning to all fans, if McCutchen gets the call up, don’t look for outrageous numbers out of the shoot. Most players struggle similar to the way Bixler did this year. in other words, don’t be down on Bixler for his struggles early this season if you see Wilson’s name in the transaction logs.
Nyjer Morgan could easily be called up as well if/when Nady is traded.
Jesse from Raise the Jolly Roger!
I would love to see McCutchen play in the bigs as soon as Nady gets traded. I am really excited to see him play up close. I think next year, as his fist full year in the MLB, will be a good one. He still is the youngest player in AAA though.
Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters
With the recent trades and other developments, we have seen what Neal Huntington seems to think about this issue. They have decided to bring up Steve Pearce up to play in the outfield, in lieu of making another move to bring up McCutchen. I have thought about this question many times recently now. On one hand you want to have him up so that he can get adjusted to big league play quickly and so that the team would improve due to his play. On the other hand, you don’t want his arbitration clock to tick, though they could sign him before that, and I want to know what Steve Pearce can do.
So to me the question is more about Steve Pearce than Andrew McCutchen. We need to know if he can contribute offensively at this level, because we all believe that McCutchen can and most definitely will. They may be able to keep him down in AAA for the rest of this year, but come next year he will have to be in Pittsburgh.
Nancy from Sandlot Swashbucklers
Andrew McCutchen needs to stay in Indianapolis for now. He has more things to work on.
McCutchen’s speed lets him get to almost anything in the general area of centerfield, including in the deep area in left-center field at Victory Field in Indianapolis. He can make the dramatic catches, and the throws in are usually ok (though he completely missed the cut-off man on one yesterday, probably costing a run).
Offense is another story. McCutchen has not looked like a top prospect at the plate. He started the season well, with a reasonably good April (.279, 9 doubles, 5 homers, 14 RBI) and a very good May though with less power (.307, 6 doubles, 2 homers, 10 RBI). Then he hit a slump in June (.257, 4 doubles, 1 homer, 9 RBI). His OBP suffered too, dropping to .315 as his walks dropped off (14 in April and May, 8 in June) and his strikeouts stayed up (19). July has not been much better. In 10 games since the All-Star break, he’s hitting .225, with 2 doubles and 6 RBI, though he has hit one homer and had his first triple of the season. He has 26 steals this season, 12 in May, but only 4 in June, and only 2 since the All-Star break. He has also been caught stealing 17 times. Again yesterday he was caught leaning too far and picked off/caught stealing, easily tagged out in front of second base.
Wait — his first triple of the season was just this week?? This guy, with his speed, should have had a few triples by now, not just be picking up his first of the year on July 22nd. Maybe that sums up the problem. He’s not hitting, so he’s not getting on base, and he’s not getting the chance to showcase his speed on the bases. His success rate at stealing is far too low for someone with his speed.
McCutchen looks like a .276 AAA player, but not like a top prospect who is ready to be rushed to the Big Club. Sending him up to Pittsburgh early is not going to help his development, particularly if, like Nyjer Morgan, he spends most of his time sitting on the bench and occasionally pinch-hitting.
Andy Smith from Bugs and Cranks
I think McCutchen would be the perfect September call-up. Given Steve Pearce’s age and unusual pedigree, I think it’s important right now for him to play everyday so the organization can get a baseline for him in the majors. Even if another outfielder gets dealt, Jason Michaels is a suitable replacement for two months. While McCutchen has been solid at Indianapolis this year, his number don’t exactly have him kicking down the doors to Pittsburgh either. I’d like to see him concentrate on finishing the AAA season strong, then getting his feet wet with a few big league at-bats rather than a trial by fire.

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