I wrote on Saturday about Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez and what, exactly, the problem is. In Friday night's game, Alvarez went 0-for-5 and began the game by hitting into double plays in his first three at-bats. In Saturday night's game he came off the bench and struck out in embarrassing fashion by getting into a poor hitter's count and then flailing at a breaking ball in the dirt.â†µ
Two games don't prove anything in themselves, of course. But the whole of Alvarez's season has been so poor that it can't be waved away. This is a player who had problems making contact in the minors and who continues to have those problems. He has major adjustments to make before he can be successful against major-league pitching. (The Pirates recently generated some controversy by keeping Alvarez in the minors after he was through rehabbing an injury, because they felt he still had work to do. They then called him up not because they thought he was ready, but because they badly needed a bat. I wish they had stuck with their evaluation and kept him in the minors.)â†µ
Can he still make it? Absolutely. But we're reaching the point where it might be wise to adjust our expectations downward. It's way too early to call him a bust, but it's not too early to argue that it's possible, perhaps even likely, that he'll become one. One commenter in my original post pointed to Troy Glaus as an example of what Alvarez could become if all goes well - a hitter with reasonable, but not high batting averages; decent-to-below-average defense; and a bunch of power. If Alvarez turns out to be that good, I'll be very happy.