Pirates still not giving Pearce an opportunity

The Pirates signed Craig Monroe to a minor league deal on January 13. A few hours later, Wilbur Miller had this to say about Monroe on the Only Bucs message board:

[T]here should be zero chance of him making the major league roster. I don’t care if he hits .990 in spring training, because he fell off a cliff two years ago and, as weak as their roster is, the Pirates have better options. No way on earth Monroe should make the team over Pearce, and I’d take Andy Phillips, Jeff Salazar and Garrett Jones ahead of him as well. Even Monroe’s good years weren’t that good because he’s clueless about the strike zone. He’s had an above-avg. OBP exactly once in eight seasons. His OBP was below .300 five times in those eight years, and one other year it was .301. He’s had an OPS+ of 100 or more just twice and of 90 or more just four times.

But how many people seriously believe that, as of right now, Monroe doesn’t have the inside track for a roster spot?

Wilbur was a bit high with the .990 batting average, but Monroe is clearly playing himself into a roster spot. With his three home runs yesterday, he is now hitting .333/.382/.1000 with six home runs on the spring. And so it appears that the Pirates will take a 32-year-old outfielder, who has been at or below replacement level in each of the past three seasons, north to Pittsburgh. Based on a good spring training performance.

For a team that is rebuilding, I cannot understand why Steve Pearce is not receiving an opportunity to play. Pearce, who will turn 26 in April, is very likely to start the season in Indianapolis, his third consecutive year in Triple-A. While Pearce struggled in 2008, this is the same guy who hit a combined .333/.394/.622 over three minor league levels in 2007. He also managed to hold his own during a brief stint with the Pirates late that season. It is time to see what he can do with regular playing time at the major league level. Standing in his way are players such as Nyjer Morgan and Monroe. I guarantee neither of those players will contribute anything of significance to the next competitive Pirates squad. There is a definite chance that Pearce will. The team cannot afford to waste another year of possible evaluation by keeping Pearce in Indy.

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Posted in 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates, Andy Phillips, Craig Monroe, Garrett Jones, Jeff Salazar, Nyjer Morgan, Steve Pearce. Comments Off on Pirates still not giving Pearce an opportunity
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