Pedro Alvarez got the nod last night, working himself back into the Pirates lineup. Due in large part to his game tying double in the 8th inning the night before. It was optimistic to think that Pedro's clutch double would carry over and propel him on to better things the rest of the way out, to help him turn the corner. He was 0-3 last night at the plate. Had an error in the field, which could have very easily been three if Ike Davis wasn't able to dig a couple throws out of the ground. Optimism and hope can't fix the yips.
You can almost see it in Pedro's eyes. He's uncomfortable, irritated, dejected. Upon fielding every grounder he crow hops and shuffles half way to first before letting it fly. The mental block is clear. His grip on the ball looks off, his arm action different. It's time for a change for Pedro.
The issue has gotten to the point where you can no longer put him out there because of his potential at the plate. There is no longer a routine play for him. He's a liability. Brent Morel came into the game for him last night in the 7th inning, a smart move by Hurdle. Could you imagine if an errant Pedro throw would have cost the Pirates the game last night?
Even if he is hitting, the amount of runs he could potentially cost in the field doesn't justify playing him. He now has 24 errors this year, still the most by any third baseman in the league. The Pirates can't seem to figure out how to fix him. As a fan you shouldn't be mad about that, as unfortunate as it is. The yips are a nasty animal. Such a mental issue it is hard for nearly anyone to address or fix it. So much depends on the player getting over it himself. What the Pirates can do is try something else...
It seems the best fit for Pedro until he gets over this is to use him off the bench in pinch hit situations. With Marte returning probably sometime during this next home stand, the position can be filled without having Brent Morel out there. Pedro can come off the bench and try and take some good hacks up there. Get him in situations like the one two days ago where he was able to tie the game up. Take the pressure off of him in the field. Start to try and relieve the mental tension from his throws, that he clearly takes up to plate with him as well.
Unfortunately, that may not be the only move the Pirates make. Pedro is out of options. Pedro could very well be DFA'd. Clint Hurdle's comments after the game yesterday seemed ominous. When asked what is going to happen with Pedro, Hurdle had less than usual to say. You got the sense he is done with him, he's over the throwing problems. His answer, "I'll have to talk to Neil about it. We have to do what's best for the player but more importantly what's best for the team." We may see what he meant by that in the next few days. Any sort of move would have to clear waivers at this point and I'm not sure of his value to any other clubs at the current moment. Most likely I would think the Pirates hang on to him, try and work things out the rest of the year. Use him in non leverage capacities where can't hurt the team. Then, decide in the offseason whether to move forward with him or not.
There are some other options the Pirates haven't exhausted. A change in his throwing mechanics may help alleviate the stress for Pedro. They could try a Ryan Zimmerman like arm action. Side arm, even lower, whatever would allow Pedro to make a consistent throw. I also think the Pirates need to reach out to some people. Tim Corbin, the head baseball coach at Vanderbilt, Pedro's college ball coach should be contacted. See if he has any suggestions or if this was ever a problem for Pedro in college. You also have two announcers that once faced the same problem. John Wehner made a change in his throwing motion after developing a case of the yips. He made a plethora of errors before changing to a side arm sling to first. After which he became one of the better fielding third basemen of his time. Steve Blass another Pirates broadcaster, had it worse than anyone. He couldn't even pitch the ball anymore. Unfortunately for him he was never able to get over it. Still, he knows what it feels like to go through something like this. Maybe one of them could help in some way, as silly as it may sound.
It's a sad situation. Laughable too, almost one of those things we've come to know all to well with the Pirates. Twenty years from now it's easy to imagine sitting around talking Pirates baseball with people, and the "Pedro Yips Case" comes up. "Remember that Alvarez guy they took 2nd overall in '08?". "Man that guy was good, he could drop some bombs, thought he might turn out to be a prolific power hitter." "Yeah it's a shame, he got that thing where he couldn't make a good throw to first anymore, that guy could have been something special." More than that, I fear a Jose Bautista situation. Pedro departs from Pittsburgh at some point in the next year. Finds a new home, change of scenery works for him, he loses his ghosts involving the throwing issues. Turns out to be one of the best power hitters in the bigs and we all realize we never even got to see the best Pedro Alvarez had to offer.