I had hoped to do some sort of mid-season post today, but I’m having a bit of writer’s block about it and may move it to Wednesday, because tomorrow will be Zach Duke day. I also think that writing a post about Brandon Moss and Garrett Jones might serve as a mid-season review; the fact that we’re talking about these two guys should indicate where we’re at as a baseball team right now.
After a decent run by Lastings Milledge in the GCL and a nice (powerless, but nice) start to his stint in Indy, I’ve got a feeling that we’re going to be down to one open outfield slot sooner rather than later. Unless Adam LaRoche is traded in the near future, and he’s not making that task look easy, we’re probably going to be down to Jones and Moss for the starting right field spot. This, as I’ve said, is already an indictment of the team. Moss is probably on what I like to call the, “Nice Player” career track. He’s very solid defensively and his bat isn’t awful. He’s not likely to ever be more than a fourth or fifth outfielder, but I’m guessing he’ll have a job for a while because of his good glove and decent bat. Jones, meanwhile, is a never-was who didn’t post a Triple-A OPS over .800 until his third full go-round there, but has shown nice pop, something the Pirates sorely lack, in both Indy and his short stint with the Pirates.
If it does come down to the two of them for a playing spot, I have a feeling that the public sentiment is going to be leaning towards Jones. You don’t have to look any further than Dejan Kovacevic’s mid-season review to find that sentiment:
Bottom position player: Perhaps no player in Major League Baseball has done less with a starting opportunity than Brandon Moss, who did not record his second RBI until May.
I won’t argue that Moss has been disappointing this year and I won’t argue that he’s been our worst position player (though I could), but it’s a ridiculous statement to say that no player has done less with a starting job. Using Moss’s 237 PAs as a baseline, there are 27 players that have done less than him at the plate this year, including guys who, like Moss, are trying to get established in the big leagues like Chris Davis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Chase Headley, another such player, just barely ranks above Moss. Since May 12th, he’s actually hit.306/.359/.470. He’s still only got 3 homers in that span, but I still think that’s reasonably productive.
Jones, on the other hand, has a career .312 OBP in the minor leagues and is 28. I know that John Russell and a lot of people that watched him play in the spring are impressed with his swing, but those sort of numbers just scream to me that he’s a quad-A guy that three or four years from now, I’m going to be watching him play for someone’s Triple-A squad in Durham and laughing about when he was a Pirate. Moss is still only 25 with good minor league credentials and he’s shown both this year and last year that he can hit big league pitching for extended stretches.
Neither Jones nor Moss strikes me as a player that’s going to be a long-term starter in the big leagues, but if either one of the two is going to do it, it’s almost certainly going to be Brandon Moss.