Thursday, July 03, 2008

Steve Pearce is back ... what does that mean?

That's the question I found myself asking last night before the game when the Pirates announced that Steve Pearce would be taking Matt Capps' place on the roster. Paul Meyer speculates that it's only for the weekend, until Phil Dumatrait and Ian Snell come off the disabled list. So why does a team that's pitching thin call up a hitter for a weekend, especially when said hitter is one of their better hitting prospects. I know Pearce has been disappointing in AAA this year, but he did seem to get some of his punch back last month (6 homers in June after only 5 all year prior). So why call him up now?

The easiest answer is maybe, "Well, who the hell else are we supposed to call up?" You'd think that maybe a pitcher would get the nod since we're so pitching-poor at the moment, but Marino Salas hasn't worked out well, calling Bullington up would be futile, and they would have to make room on the 40-man roster for Jesse Chavez, which they might not want to do for three days of work. As for hitters, well, it's gotta be Pearce because no one can hit in AAA other than him, McCutchen (who needs to stay in AAA), and Ronny Paulino.

The next answer is that maybe a trade's coming. But yeah, it's probably not. Not yet, anyways. Xavier Nady does seem to be recovered from his wrist troubles, which is definitely good for trade prospects, but I'd guess there's nothing coming on that front over the holiday weekend.

The final answer is maybe that they just want to play him for Adam LaRoche. That seems plausible, given the true suckitude of LaRoche this year, but he's been killing the ball in the past week or so. I also noticed something interesting last night; he was wearing a brace on his thumb early in the game. I don't recall seeing that earlier in the year, though LaRoche did have thumb troubles back in April. It seems plausible that the thumb bothered him for most of the early part of the season, causing him to be worse than usual in May and June. If that's the case, the team had to know he's feeling better and probably expected this upturn in performance, meaning there's no need to call Pearce up to spell him.

Of all three choices, the reason for Pearce's call-up is probably the first one. This organization is so thin, they really don't have much of a choice but to call-up Pearce for bench duty this weekend.