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Pirates looking into “mental component” of Pedro Alvarez’s throwing problems

Jul 29, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

Pedro Alvarez AP AP

Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez‘s throwing issues have gotten so bad–including an MLB-leading 21 of his 23 errors on throws–that Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports the team is starting to look into “the mental component to find the root of the problem.”

Alvarez has always been a poor defender at third base and eventually moving across the diamond to first base has long been discussed as a possibility. Prior to this season he committed 85 errors in 3,965 innings at third base, or one every 47 innings. This season he’s made an error every 34 innings. Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as a career-worst 9.4 runs below average this year.

An easy solution would be moving Alvarez to first base, but a) the Pirates may not want to do that in the middle of a season, b) Ike Davis has been reasonably productive there since they acquired him from the Mets, and c) Alvarez’s current .707 OPS would look even worse at first base than it does at first base. They have to fix him defensively and, if they can’t, they have to decide if his 30-homer power is worth putting up with the low batting average, low on-base percentage, and tons of strikeouts from first base.

  1. tbird05 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Yips

    • ironcurtin64 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      Yup

  2. missthemexpos - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Find Chuck Knoblauch to help out Alvarez with his Yips.

    • genericcommenter - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      Just do a prison search.

    • 78mu - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      Chuck is busy helping Steve Sax right now.

  3. ejheim62 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Irrelevant, because he’s A) due for free agency after next year, and B) a Boras client. So he’ll never play first for the Pirates regardless. Now, the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers or Mets might want to get him a sports psychiatrist, because they’ll most likely be the ones trying to figure out why their 100 million player can’t throw to 1st base….

    • mrkilliemrkillie - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      He’ll be a DH soon enough.

    • genericcommenter - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      There’s not a 9-figure market for DHs who don’t get on base and slug under .500.

      • ejheim62 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        don’t tell that to Brian Cashman….

      • yahmule - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        Seems like the redundant skill set the Mariners love so well.

  4. mrkilliemrkillie - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Play Harrison at 3rd and trade Alvarez to the AL as a DH.

  5. dcbear90 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Please get him out of the NL Central. Doesn’t matter if he hits .220. He kills the Cardinals.

  6. agoodstein - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Going to PNC Park and seeing El Toro play regularly is hard to watch. He only can hit doubles or home runs. He doesn’t walk or hit singles. As a Pirates fan, I’ve been saying for years he needs to be traded to an AL team. A slugger who we get excited when he starts to hit over .230 avg and hits 25 HRs a year is not worth keeping around if he gives up errors that erase those runs. The problem is the Pirates don’t really have anyone around that can take over full time 3B. Yes, Harrison can play 3B and probably has a higher WAR than El Toro this year, but I don’t think he is a permanent solution. He commits less errors, but his career fielding percentage at 3B isn’t much better than El Toro. Now they could ride out the year, trade Pedro then make a run at Headley or another cheap 3B option in the off season. As much as I hate to think it, the Pirates are stuck with Pedro.

    • danaking - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      I’ve been a Pedro supporter, and counseled patience, but it’s about time to look for Plan B. His glove work has become impressive, but he still has to throw the ball, and I cringe every time he does so. (I told a friend last night, if you want a ball at a Pirate game, sit on the field level behind first base and bring your glove.) His sub-par hitting numbers are created while facing almost all right-handed pitching; he hasn’t been an every day player for a while. It’s time to see if an AL team willing to take a chance that removing the fielding from his To-Do List may fix his hitting, put Harrison at third for the rest of this season to see how it shakes out, and continue to look for corner infielders.

  7. edelmanfanclub - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    I know what to do.

  8. wogggs - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    Steve Sax, anyone?

  9. itsabergthing - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    He needs to go have a chat with Steve Blass, it’s just a trip to the broadcast booth… His defense is not worth his lack of power production (.407 SLG) this year.

    • ejheim62 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      I’ve been a Pirates fan since 1969…..I remember 1973 when Blass totally lost it. Was 19-9, an All-Star in 1972, had an ERA of something in the 9+ range in 1973….they put him in the 9th inning of a blowout game and he had nothing, gave up something like 6 more runs without recording an out…..very sad, actually. He was a good pitcher, a real gamer.

  10. timmons94 - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Knoblauch is busy. Helping ray rice with marriage counseling. Both are good at hitting women

  11. ironcurtin64 - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    The first one I can remember getting a case of the yips was the Mets Mackey Sasser. Totally lost the ability to accurately throw the ball back to the pitcher. It was painful to watch.

  12. notwhoyouthinkitis - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    “… eventually moving across the diamond to first base has long been discussed as a possibility.”

    Oh come on. No one in the Pirates organization is “discussing” moving Pedro to first. Let alone it has not been “long discussed”. The only ones who discuss it are bloggers and people making comments on the internet. This article tries to spin a weak rumor into something by declaring it as being “long” “discussed” as if it has any serious consideration by people who know a lot more about the Bucs, e.g. coaches.

    • yahmule - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      I guess people tended to think it might happen because he’s a butcher @ third and they haven’t had a decent first baseman since Pops.

      • ejheim62 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:06 AM

        well, we DID have that one great year from Jason Thompson in 1982….

  13. corvetteman6 - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    Unfortunately, the Pirates have invested too much time and money in this zombie to do anything this year. But my guess is they’ll move him over the offseason. Of course, his defensive problems, inability to hit above .220, failure to hit curve balls that a high schooler could throw and now, ‘mental problems’ have only diminished his value across the league.
    At the end of last season, he could have provided a nice return.
    Not sure he can provide you with anything much now. I mean, what GM wants to give away the farm for this guy?

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