Pedro Alvarez

Pirates sticking with struggling Pedro Alvarez at third base


Pedro Alvarez hit .191 in 74 games for the Pirates last season, wasn’t much better in 35 games back at Triple-A, and has seen his struggles carry over this spring, but the Pirates aren’t giving up on the 25-year-old former No. 2 overall pick as their starting third baseman.

General manager Neal Huntington told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that “the rumors of him starting at Triple-A have never come from the Pirates” and is not something the team is considering.

By trading for Casey McGehee the Pirates brought in a potential alternative to Alvarez at third base, although McGehee is coming off a tremendously disappointing season himself. Alvarez is a left-handed hitter and McGehee is a right-handed hitter, so Huntington did say that platooning them early in the season is an option for manager Clint Hurdle and from there it’s easy to see the playing time shift based on production.

Either way, Alvarez’s stock has plummeted since the Pirates picked him second overall and Baseball America twice ranked him as a top-15 prospect in 2009 and 2010, as the combination of strikeouts, poor defense, and injuries repeatedly set him back. Tremendous raw power is what’s keeping the Pirates invested.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.