PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) - There remain just nine days until baseball's non-waiver trade deadline is reached, and Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown joined Starkey and Mueller on Tuesday to discuss weak spots in the Pirates lineup and on their bench in the wake of several recent injuries.
Brown, in his 22nd year in the radio booth, was asked about first base and right field, where Pedro Alvarez and Gregory Polanco have failed to reach their full potentials, respectively. Brown thinks, logically, that Neal Huntington might look externally to find a first baseman who can man the position defensively, as Alvarez ranks last defensively among qualifying first basemen, according to Fangraphs.com.
"Polanco is just learning the league. I am fine with him in right," Brown said. "But I am not so sure, frankly, that they can win with Pedro Alvarez at first base."
"If he were hitting home runs and driving in runs, I guess, to a degree, we could accept [Alvarez' 15 errors] at first base. I hate to say it because I love the guy and I want him to succeed, but maybe [the Pirates management] is going to have to look and decide if maybe he's not best suited as a [designated hitter] role, because he has just made some plays that are head-scratchers."
Alvarez has struggled to field routine ground balls cleanly this season, and there exists no clear trend of error, as batted balls have bounced off, over, around and under his first baseman's mitt. But, Brown notes, Alvarez appears to have ridden himself of the throwing errors that left manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington with no choice but to move the 28-year-old from third base to first base late last season.
And it is for this reason that Brown wondered enough to ask Huntington over the weekend if he'd considered moving Alvarez back to third.
"I asked him whether they would contemplate the idea of approaching [Alvarez] and saying, 'Hey, let's send you down to Triple-A Indy for a couple of weeks, and let's get you back at third base and see what happens,' because the throwing issue, at least for now, has gone away, but he just looks so uncomfortable at first base."
Huntington responded by saying that the Pirates' decision makers "don't close any idea" and that "they are open to anything," but that moving Alvarez back across the diamond is not something they have discussed as an organization.
Brown also added that he thinks the Pirates need defensive stability at shortstop. Gift Ngoepe, who is widely-known as an outstanding defensive shortstop, has hit .264 with three home runs between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis this season. Brown suggested Ngoepe, 25, could temporarily solve the Pirates' problems at shortstop; although, he suspects Ngoepe would hit just slightly above the Mendoza line at the major league level.
"It's going to be a very interesting 10 days between now and the trade deadline to see what happens," Brown said.
The entire interview can be heard below:
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