Monday, May 17, 2010

More Aki! and a Hometown Boy

The Pirates have a nice little opportunity to make a roster move today that could pay bigger dividends in the long run.  Let's hope they make it.

As I surmised when Aki Iwamura couldn't get his bunt down on Saturday and then grounded into a double play--pushing his May average below the age of our President--he also hurt himself.  I don't wish for Aki to be hurt, but he is, so let's make a good decision here.

DL Aki and promote Pittsburgh native Neil Walker today.  A tight hamstring doesn't heal in a day or two.  Aki is going to be out four or five days minimum, and I would bet it is more likely to be a week.  In promoting Walker, it is important to note that his service time is right on the borderline and he will become a Super Two if he comes up before July.  Without getting into the technicalities, it is better for the Pirates if Walker doesn't come up this week and stays a minor-leaguer for about three more days.  

Having said that here is how the Bucs can have the best of both worlds:  1.) Aki needs a break, but he is too experienced to just send to the minors.  Now that he is hurt he can spend a week healing and a few days on a minor league "rehab assignment." 2.) When Aki's 15 day DL stint is done send Walker back to AAA, no matter how well he performs, in order to guarantee an extra year of control.  It would be hard to argue with the move.  If Walker plays great with the big club, the Pirates can just take a week or two to figure out their next roster move and bring him back up.  There would be no grounds for a grievance on Walker's or the Players Union's part.

Here is the larger point.  I am not nearly as concerned about Walker's arbitration clock as I am about Pedro's or Lincoln's or Morris' etc., but if the Pirates can manage it, great.  This is the perfect "excuse" to give Aki a rest and then give him some time in AAA on the backside to work on his approach at the plate without embarrassing him.  (Not that I think anyone should care about that when an individual is making $4.5 million, but if you can avoid it, better still.)  At the same time the team rewards Walker and gets a good two week look at him while still being able to manage his year's of service.

Having the team play a man short for the next five to seven days is silly.  Recalling Walker now actually benefites the team.  Do it.  In my mind this is a no-brainer.

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