Imagine the surprise that must have swept the clubhouse of the Indianapolis Indians, where almost every player knew the Pirates were about to promote one of their ranks, when that player was Brent Morel, a right-handed hitting third baseman.
Among players with 50 or more at bats on the Indy roster, Morel was 10th in batting average and 11th in OPS. His batting line was .215/.279/.312 -- .591. How does that merit a promotion?
And that’s not the half of it. On the same day that Morel was promoted to replace reliever Phil Irwin, outfielder Travis Snider was suspended for two games by MLB for his part in a brawl last month. Snider was the team’s only left-handed hitting outfielder and, in most cases, the only left-handed bat off the bench.
The situation screamed for a left-handed hitting outfielder and not a right-handed hitting third baseman.
What’s more, the Pirates had two players at Indianapolis who fit that description and both were more qualified than Morel:
Chris Dickerson: .300/.370/.456 -- .826
Jaff Decker: .250/.354/.375 -- .729.
Here is the totally nonsensical explanation that manager Clint Hurdle gave:
"Roster availability, if he's on or he's not, do you have to create room? Who do you have to designate if you have to add somebody that is not on the roster ... we talked about it all."
That explains why Dickerson, who is not on the 40-man roster, did not get the call. It does not begin to address why Decker did not get the call.
Dickerson is no prospect. He’s 32. In parts of six MLB seasons, encompassing 708 plate appearances, he has a .745 OPS. In other words, his MLB numbers are better -- much better -- than Morel’s Class AAA numbers. And, by the way, he’s a left-handed hitting outfielder.
The Pirates easily could have made a move to their 40-man roster and added Dickerson. Here are two options, one so obvious it’s unfathomable that it was not made.
• Duke Welker, currently on the DL at Indianapolis, is a reliever with a 4.91 ERA. He’s also 28. It is really worth protecting Welker at the expense of promoting the best player?
• Decker: If he’s not worth promoting in this situation, he clearly has little value to the organization.
On the surface this decision to promote Morel makes absolutely no sense. It's probably only for three games but anyone who doesn't think three games are important probably doesn't think the Pirates are a contender
This is not the Pirates trying to save money, as they are doing by keeping Gregory Polanco in the minors. This is the Pirates being flat-out stupid.