Al Pedrique – 1988 Donruss

November 27, 2010

The Pirates’ (Shortstop) Tale

This is why a franchise stanks….

Name great Pirates shortstops: Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughn, Dick Groat. I MAY give you Jay Bell for his age-27 year, but he didn’t become Jay Bell until he got to Arizona.

In most of the 2000’s, the Pirates settled on Jack Wilson – a fair field no hit guy. They SETTLED. Wilson’s a good guy to have on a team with a bunch of great players. But he’s not a decade long player for a building young team.

When the Pirates were the Lumber Company and the Fam-I-Lee, they had guys like Gene Alley, Frank Taveras, Tim Foli, and Dale Berra out there at short. Wilson would have been just as good for those teams, but no better really.

So I give you Al Pedrique. No, he’s not Sammy Khalifa. He hit better than Rafael Belliard and Felix Fermin.He hit .301 in 1987 for Pittsburgh, but it was an empty .301. The next year, he hit .180 and so Belliard was back at short. Fermin was dispatched to Cleveland to get Bell.

Pedrique is a baseball lifer with a capital “L”. By all accounts a nice guy and a great teacher. He spent 4 full seasons at Jackson in the Southern League, THEN played 10 years in AAA before and after major league stints. You have to have something else in your docket if you spend that much time in the minors.

But he’s a symbol of the Pirates problems. They couldn’t find a shortstop, and then when they find one, they SETTLE. Except for one season Jay Bell was settling (and bunting…wow…). Wilson was settling.

Between Bell and Wilson there was Kevin Polcovich, Lou Collier, Mike Benjamin, Abraham Nunez and Pat Meares. When Wilson was traded they got Ronny Cedeno to handle short.

Ronny Cedeno. Career OPS+ of 66. A WAR of -0.9 for his career. And he compounds his lack of hitting for sub-standard defense per the metrics.

Al Pedrique is 50 years old. He’s the bench coach of the Astros. And I bet he could do as well as Ronny Cedeno at short, right now. And if Cedeno is playing shortstop for the Pirates in 2012 and 2013, you know they’ve just settled…

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