The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing very good baseball right now with a 42-29 record coming into Wednesday. When you consider that the Pirates have put up that good of a record to this point without even having their best lineup, it’s very impressive.
The one glaring offensive black-hole in the Pirates’ lineup in 2013 and for most of 2012 was Clint Barmes. Barmes is widely regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops around — but he can’t hit. With his .198/.231/.265 slash line, one would have to assume the only two things keeping him in the lineup were his defense and the $5.5 million he is making this year in the final year of his contract. After recently dropping below the dreaded Mendoza-line (below .200 batting average), it appears the Pirates have had enough. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has a new starting shortstop.
Jordy Mercer was originally supposed to be the every day shortstop for the Pirates’ Triple-A team, but due to an injury to John McDonald, Mercer was called up. McDonald has recently been traded to the Cleveland Indians, so it appears Mercer is now officially a permanent member of the Pirates’ 25-man roster.
In just 103 plate appearances in 2013, Mercer is hitting for a .284/.320/.484 slash line. He isn’t going to be an all-star, but he’s also not going to put up offensive numbers that look similar to a pitchers’. He isn’t as good on defense as the now backup shortstop, Barmes, but he isn’t bad. When considering the upgrade he brings offensively, the little the Pirates are losing defensively is insignificant.
It’s a shame it had to take this long, but Mercer is finally the starter. This is just another example of how much money talks, especially with small market teams like the Pirates. Barmes, making $5.5 million, is going to have many more opportunities to prove himself than Mercer, who is making next to nothing.