With a little over five weeks remaining in the regular season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a problem and it needs addressed fairly soon.
The issue is that while fighting for a playoff spot, the Bucs aren’t willing to go with their best 25-man roster right now. Some of that has to do with playing a 19-inning game, having Jordy Mercer on paternity leave and dealing with numerous injuries, but there are much better options throughout the organization than what Clint Hurdle has to turn to.
The bottom line is that Yamaico Navarro, Daniel McCutchen and Chad Qualls are three guys that have no business being on this roster right now as the Pirates enter their most important stretch of games in the past two decades.
While I tend to agree that rushing prospects is often a mistake, but there’s a big difference between rushing a guy along and allowing them to crawl along at a snail’s pace.
Qualls should be replaced by Bryan Morris, who has earned the opportunity.
McCutchen should be replaced by Justin Wilson, who just made his MLB debut on Monday. Wilson would give Hurdle another lefty to turn to out of the pen and his arm is stretched out enough that if he had to be used in a longer role, he could do that.
Navarro should be sent down the minute Mercer returns, but that’s not where this ends.
There are other options in the organization that could potentially help this team the next five weeks.
Jeff Clement, even though he’s struggled in August, would be a nice addition to the bench, as would Brock Holt’s bat. Holt may only have a few weeks of Triple-A at bats, but there’s a better than average chance that he helps this offense more right now than the Clint Barmes-Mercer combination.
The Pirates will have to take what they can get from the catching combination of Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry the rest of the way, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t improve the roster in other areas the rest of the way. They may need to in order to make the playoffs.
For every purist that says that bringing a young guy up in a pennant race is too much pressure, there are plenty of young guys that have helped their teams reach the World Series as well. Guys like David Price, Andrew Jones and Miguel Cabrera played major roles for their respective teams in September and October.
While the Pirates may not have anyone of that caliber, they do have good young talent that can play a role in this race.
However, we may not get the chance to know how good this team can be down the stretch if they aren’t willing to go with the best 25-man roster.