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Pirates Talking Points- Hurdle’s Lineups, The Dickerson Upgrade, Kang Conundrum

Clint Hurdle’s lineups are going to be a discussion point all season and will drive the fans mad.

We are only a month into the Pirates season and the fans are already getting jammed up over Clint Hurdle’s handling of the lineup card. The Josh Harrison injury has complicated matters by creating an almost Fleury/Murray type animosity between Adam Frazier and Sean Rodriguez backers wanting their guy in the leadoff spot. Osuna crushed a ball into the stratosphere the other night, which means there is no doubt going to be a chorus wanting him up with the team full-time. Surprising to some, even Max Moroff has made a case for more playing time. Also, what do you do with David Freese? So many questions indeed. What is making the “who gets the playing time”  question even more difficult is nobody is really raising the occasion and playing to a level above the others to deserve at bats.

Smart money is that Hurdle will over use Sean Rodriguez, not have the stones to send down a bullpen arm and keep Osuna, give Freese unwarranted playing time and screw around with Adam Frazier’s role.  It’s a shaping up to be a messy situation in the Pirates dugout.  The Pirates are in a situation this season to where if there is going to have any success they will need to get contributions from unlikely sources. Clint Hurdle finding a formula with his lineup is paramount in the Pirates being competitive this season.  The odds of the front office making moves this early in the season to bolster the bench with actual proven MLB player or two is slim to none.  The lineup would sort of write itself if Hurdle wasn’t married to his everybody needs to feel important philosophy.  One thing is for certain though; Hurdle is going to drive everybody nuts with his poorly timed resting of the core players and the comical Sunday lineups he will cobble together.


Corey Dickerson currently is a massive upgrade from Andrew McCutchen in the batting order, outfield and possibly clubhouse.

Corey Dickerson is sporting a nifty .314/.348/.848 slash line and is really settling into his role on this Pirates team. He also is not letting the pressure of filling Andrew McCutchen’s shoes get to him. McCutchen isn’t off to a horrible start out in San Francisco and  it is has been very underwhelming. He’s only batting .205 and that is bolstered by a 6/7-night w/ a 4 RBI explosion. Remove that one game and his average drops to .148 w/ 7 RBI on the season. It is forgivable though because most of the Giants offense is struggling out of the gate, they even recalled Mac Williamson, their top hitting and outfield prospect, as reinforcement’s. Williamson is clobbering the ball;  3 home runs in 6 games and looking legit, so if he does stick around it will be interesting what the Giants do with McCutchen and Hunter Pence going forward.

If Dickerson keeps this up the Pirates should get the recognition they deserve for this signing. He’s looking to be a great addition to the club house too. The team just looks looser; they seem to be having fun again. Fun was something that seemed to be lacking as Cutch’s time with the team winded down. I don’t think players will come right out and say it but it has been long wondered how much McCutchen’s attitude last season irritated his teammates. He looked grumpy. He called for a scorekeeper to be fired. He belly ached with the moved to right field. Not a great co-worker in my option. In many ways Dickerson is exactly the kind of teammate this club may have needed.


Where does Jung Ho Kang fit into this Pirates team? And how will fans and teammates react to his reinstatement?

Kang’s value to the Pirates at this point, if he can make it back to the team at some point this season, is a decent bench bat with some upside if he can regain his form. I’m anxious to see what his timetable for his official return to the team is considering his long absence. My guess is he starts in low A ball, possibly Altoona and works his way back. The interviews with his interpreter I’ve heard today seem to have me believe that he is grateful for his second chance with the Pirates organization, he has missed major league baseball, and he can’t wait to get back to playing. Now obviously nobody knows if he has taken the proper steps to clean his personal life up. The man needs to never drive a car again and needs to invest in a personal driver ASAP. It hasn’t been reported but I would also like to see what type of treatment he went through back in South Korea and if he currently has his sobriety is in check.

There are many cases of athletes doing horrendous and appalling things off the field and being welcome back to their teams and forgiven by fans. Ray Lewis plea bargained down to an obstruction of justice charge after being charged with two counts murder. He also hid evidence in the investigation and rolled on his buddies to save his skin. This is a first ballot Scumbag Hall of Fame resume. When the dust settled after his trial  the Ravens fan base cheered, networks hired him when he retired, and he was treated like a hero at his Hall of fame induction. If fans can give Mr. Lewis of all people a second chance, Pirate fans most certainly at some point forgive  Kang and give him a chance to right the ship and get his career and life back on track. Sounds like all the guy wants to do is get back to work.

DUI is serious business but there are plenty of athletes who are bigger scumbags and have had worse transgressions scar their careers then be forgiven because they helped their teams win games. Should Kang be welcomed back? No- not initially. He’s let down so many people in this organization and city. He’s going to need to prove to his teammates and the fans that he is serious about getting sober and focusing on baseball. If he can do that, I’m confident he can find success again and show the fan base and his teammates he has changed. Believe me I’m sure Kang knows if he return and plays well that is the quickest way to forgiven by teammate and fans alike. Hopefully he is motivated by this and understands what thin ice he is on going forward.

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