Through 40 games, Clint Barmes is hitting .171/.200/.285. Last night, he drew a walk and doubled his season walk total. It’s true that he was mostly signed to play defense, but it’s hard to say that his defense has been anything better than about average at shortstop this year. Still, he’s started more games than any Pirate other than Neil Walker this year. So how long of a leash does Barmes get?
The Pirates aren’t exactly overflowing with good shortstop options right now and I’m far from a Josh Harrison or a Jordy Mercer fan, but at least Harrison has hit some balls hard this year to go with his inability to take a walk and Mercer’s plate discipline at Triple-A has improved quite a bit in the early part of 2012 (he’s got 17 walks in 171 PAs to give him a .374 OBP, though his power breakout from last year hasn’t quite carried over). Harrison’s 24, Mercer is 25, Barmes is 33.
I get that Barmes is a veteran and he deserves some respect and that he’ll almost certainly have to hit better by default as the season goes along and that Clint Hurdle probably likes him a whole bunch and that Harrison’s defense would be awful and Mercer might not be much of a better hitter, etc. etc. I don’t really care. Barmes is old and his skillset doesn’t fit PNC Park and he’s not getting better. Signing Barmes never had any upside, really, and after a quarter of the season things don’t look better. So how many starts does $11 million buy a player when a team has younger options? I guess we’ll find out.