Published on July 3rd, 2012 | by James Conley0
Pirates Jargon: Tabata Demoted, McCutchen for MVP?
The Pirates are well above .500, contending for the NL Central lead and turning doubters into believers as fast as Andrew McCutchen can turn fastballs into RBI.
Some Pirates talk to hold you over until Zach Parise signs with the Heat.
Jose Tabata was finally demoted to AAA Indianapolis after suffering through an horrific first half which included accusations of laziness, bad luck at the plate and bad everything in the outfield.
The Pirates have demoted the frustrating outfielder Jose Tabata to Indianapolis and promoted fellow outfielder Gorkys Hernandez to take his place, leaving highly-rated prospect Starling Marte in the minors.
Tabata has annoyed the Pirates and their fans all year with poor results and questionable effort, often appearing to run hard on certain plays while jogging on others. Tabata is hitting .230/.295/.341 this season. The move to Indianapolis will hopefully prove to be a wake-up call for a once-promising young player whose career should be developing more quickly than it is.
Starling Marte’s much awaited recall didn’t accompany the demotion, but the Pirates are a few games removed from the All Star break. Marte will be looking at more playing time in AAA through that break.
Pittsburgh may be giving him reps until baseball resumes following All Star festivities.
Alex Presley left Tuesday’s game in the fifth inning with concussion-like symptoms. He was replaced by Gorkys Hernandez, recently called up from AAA Indianapolis.
#Pirates Alex Presley removed due to concussion-like symptoms. He did it while diving for Lowrie’s hit in first inning.
— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) July 4, 2012
No clue how long this lasts, but might it lead to an earlier-than-expected recall of Marte? That, or Tabata comes right back up, though that doesn’t seem to jive with what the Pirates might be trying to do with Tabata.
Speaking of Tabata, his struggles and his contract, how often does a team demote a player whose contract guarantees $15 million, has performance activators and other details which may take it over $35 million over the life of the deal and who is under team control for the next seven seasons?
Andrew McCutchen’s line before Tuesday’s game: .354/.407/.600, 16 HR, 50 R, 52 RBI. He’s neck and neck with Cincinnati’s Joey Votto for the NL batting lead and has posted better numbers over the last month than everyone in baseball.
On Monday, McCutchen went 4-for-5 and scored three runs, raising his season line to .354/.407/.600. He’s absolutely in the first-half MVP discussion along with Joey Votto and David Wright. If you want to bring up the “most valuable to his team” line of thinking, it’s hard to imagine where the Pirates would be without McCutchen. After all, this is still a lineup that is 15th in the NL in runs scored and last in on-base percentage. The Pirates have scored just 297 runs and McCutchen has scored 50 of them and driven in 52 of them.
You may remember that McCutchen had a terrific first half in 2011 but slid to a .216 mark in the second half. But there’s reason to believe McCutchen’s improvement is real and sustainable. As Buster Olney detailed recently, McCutchen spent the offseason retooling his swing. McCutchen studied the swings of hitters like Ryan Braun and Manny Ramirez and decided to open up his stance a bit. As Buster wrote, “Now, as a pitcher begins his delivery, McCutchen’s swing mechanics are triggered. He raises the bat in his hands; he lifts his left leg slightly and then plants his front foot. His weight shift, from his back leg into his swing, is smooth and powerful, and he fires his bat through the zone.”
This is the new and improved McCutchen and he can carry the offense.