You know what’s really great about the new front office? Despite Andrew McCutchen’s very solid spring, capped by his five-hit game over the weekend, I was never for one second worried that Neal Huntington would buckle to public pressure and keep McCutchen up with the big club. And sure enough, he didn’t.
There were a lot of things to like about McCutchen’s performance this spring. After a kind of slow start, he rounded his line out to .318/.423/.561, showing both the on base skills and the power that he hasn’t really put together in a full minor league season yet, and his five hits on Saturday came against Jamie Moyer and Brad Lidge. He’s come a long way in the two years since he really struggled in starting his first first full go-round at AA in 2007 and the player that’s topped prospect lists for the past few years is starting to take form. Still, there’s a lot he can work on (namely hitting right-handed pitching and building that power stroke up a bit more) and given that he’s only had an OPS of above .800 in one full minor-league season, there’s just no reason to start his arbitration clock right now.
Brian Bixler was also demoted this morning and he’s just a little less interesting to talk about. He did hit nicely this spring, but a lot of his line was tied up in that .345 batting average and there’s just no reason to think that he can regularly replicate that at a AAA level, let alone a big league one. It’s true that he’s better than his dismal big league showing last year, but I don’t think that necessarily makes him any more than a career utility guy. If he keeps hitting at Indianapolis to start the year, he’ll earn a chance to to play full-time with the Bucs when the inevitable Freddy Sanchez/Jack Wilson injury comes along, but long-term I don’t think he’s going to be good for much more than that.