Pittsburgh Pirates: Why Aren’t the Bucs Using Jordy Mercer?


One of the more puzzling aspects of the Pittsburgh Pirates season has been the call-up of shortstop Jordy Mercer.

Mercer was called up at the end of May and started two games off the bat, going 1-of-8 at the plate with a walk and doing a fine job in the field. But since Mercer’s two initial starts, he seen exactly one plate appearance, drawing a walk on June 9 against Kansas City.

General manager Neal Huntington said when Mercer was called up (via Bob Smizik):

"“Jordy’s doing a nice job for us, but at the same time, you don’t want Jordy coming up here and not playing a whole bunch for us.”"

That’s the logical approach you take with any young player. There’s no point on having him on the roster sitting when he can get valuable at bats in the minors. It makes even less sense when Mercer is sitting behind Clint Barmes, who’s hitting only .188 at the moment.

Barmes returned to the lineup after Mercer’s two starts and immediately went 5-for-8, but in the 10 games since, he’s combined to go only 6-for-34 (.176).

Even more puzzling is the fact that Josh Harrison is likely to get the starts if Clint Hurdle decides to give Barmes a day off.

If they aren’t going to play Mercer, there are several options Huntington has instead.

For one, call up another bullpen arm, or promote Rudy Owens to let Brad Lincoln move back to the bullpen. There’s even the opportunity to promote a bat like Jeff Clement, who the Pirates could use off the bench.  All of that sounds much better than giving Mercer the Pedro Ciriaco treatment.

It’s not a good recipe for winning and I’m not suggesting Mercer is the savior, but judging by what we’ve seen the Bucs do with struggling players this year, DFA’ing Nate McLouth and sending Alex Presley down to the minors, it makes very little sense that Hurdle continues to run Barmes out every night. At least when Pedro Alvarez struggles, he has the ability to break out in a big way as a run producer. Barmes does not.

It all comes down to that Barmes has a $10 million contract and we all know Hurdle loves Barmes. Hurdle’s love for Barmes is getting a little sickening. If he’s not producing, sit him for a couple weeks.

Give Mercer some at bats and see what he can do or send him down.

Otherwise it makes very little sense why he’s on the major league roster.