A pair of Pedro Alvarez doubles helped Pittsburgh defeat Cincinnati, 4-1, earlier today, but neither that nor “Sunday’s unicorn sighting of a 10-4 rout of Chicago” is enough to stop the Tribune-Review’s Dejan Kovacevic from asking, “WHAT ABOUT HITTING AGAINST TEAMS NOT NEARLY AS PATHETIC AS THE CUBS?”.
“There’s no simple way to explain the chasm between the Pirates’ pitching and hitting processes,” observes Kovacevic, who’d like us to “picture a roomful of men concluding it would be a swell idea to invest $6 million in an overweight, hobbled, chain-smoking, disinterested Aki Iwamura.” In other words, it’s the scouting, stupid.
GM Neil Huntington won’t discuss specifics of this area, and he’ll never point fingers. Few GMs would. But it’s worth noting that his five special assistants — the men charged with studying other major league teams — changed two names over the winter: Gone were pitching experts Pete Vuckovich and Larry Corrigan. In were Jim Benedict, who had been the minor league pitching coordinator, and Dave Jauss, who had been the Mets’ bench coach.
Change is good, for sure, but why not hire an ace hitting evaluator unlike anyone in the current group?
Why not open up all five spots, for that matter?
Who’s responsible for recommending Iwamura?
It wasn’t the two pitching guys who just left, so why are the rest still employed?
The amateur scouts responsible for the draft have fared no better. The system’s top hitting prospect is outfielder Starling Marte, and the top performers to date are second baseman Alen Hanson and outfielder Gregory Polanco. None were drafted. All were signed by Latin American director Rene Gayo.
Why are the scouts who wasted much of $51 million in draft bonuses on failed hitting still employed?