The Pirates' Alex Presley in action in 2012 against the Marlins.
By Bob Smizik
When your team is in the white-hot heat of a late-August pennant race and getting almost no production at first base, some home runs but little else at third base and your outfielder corps consists of Andrew McCutchen and a bunch of guys who probably can't do it, well, it's time to think outside the box.
And, no, that's not Justin Morneau, who for any number of reasons appears to be unattainable.
This is really outside the box.
It's a long-established baseball tradition that when a team needs help, it looks to its top minor-league club. In the Pirates' case, most recently that was bringing up Andrew Lambo, who at the time had 31 minor league home runs.
The Pirates still need outfield help. After McCutchen, the outfield consists of the following:
• The highly questionable but currently acceptable Jose Tabata.
• Rookie Andrew Lambo, who has 32 minor-league home runs, but on the MLB level has two hits in 14 at bats.
• Felix Pie, who despite two hits in six at bats, has no business being with the Pirates, based on an undistinguished MLB career and a nearly season-long batting average of .251 at Indianapolis.
Presley has failed frequently with the Pirates, but since his demotion in favor of Lambo, he is batting .500 at Indy -- 16-for-32.
I don't want to be accused of being a Presley fan. He's a borderline MLB player -- the quintessential fifth outfielder in an era where many teams carry only four. But he's currently on fire in Class AAA and the Pirates have a need in the outfield.
At the very least, Presley is a better option off the bench than Pie. Optimally, he might come up and give the team a lift in the starting lineup. He has played well on the MLB level before. In 215 at bats in 2011, he had an .804 OPS.
It is unlikely he can do that again. But considering the Pirates current needs, he is a deserving and worthy option.