There have been many problems surrounding the start of the 2014 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which span everything from pitching to hitting to defense.
Manager Clint Hurdle is in a position where he must make changes before it is too late.
One of those changes should involve shortstop Jordy Mercer.
Mercer became a fan favorite last season and for good reasons. He was producing with the bat and it got Clint Barmes out of the lineup on an everyday basis, which pleased most Pirates fans.
But that isn’t the case any longer and Hurdle simply can’t afford to run Mercer out there every day if he isn’t producing.
Its one thing to hide Mercer’s defensive deficiencies if he is producing offensively, but if he isn’t it makes little sense to play him.
Mercer currently is sitting with a .190/.227/.261 slash line (unfortunately that is not a typo). That’s a huge drop off from the .285/.336/.435 mark he posted last season. His lowly .487 OPS is nearly .300 points off the .772 mark he posted in 2013.
That is simply unacceptable.
Mercer has already had 142 at bats this season, so it has been a fairly large sample size. Add in the fact that he is not great defensively and Hurdle has to at least give 50 percent of the playing time to Barmes at the bare minimum.
Barmes is at least reliable in the field. He’s a pro that you know what you are going to get from on a nightly basis. Add in the fact that at this rate Barmes will likely out produce Mercer with the bat and it is a move Hurdle has to make, at least until they can get Mercer figured out.
The veteran is slashing .255/.328/.294. While that is not outstanding by any means, it is a rate that Barmes can likely keep up and at least give the Pirates some kind of production from the No. 8 spot in the order.
We have already seen an increase in Barmes’ playing time over the past week and a half. That is something that should continue.
I said back in the offseason that Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington was smart by bringing Barmes back at a reduced salary just for insurance in case Mercer flopped.
That decision is looking better by the day.
Photo Credit: Getty Images