Saturday, June 16, 2007

Jack Flash returns

Jack Wilson was all over the field Friday night - AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Chicago White Sox last night, 4-2. Paul Maholm, after struggling through the first inning, held the Sox to one run on three hits over seven innings. Much of that is likely due to the White Sox terrible offense, but Maholm did look pretty sharp after the rough first inning.

Xavier Nady came up with another clutch hit, doubling in two runs with two outs in the first inning. Yes, I was one of those people demanding a Nady/Doumit platoon in right a month ago. Doumit still needs to get in the lineup more often, but Nady now has a higher OPS than Jason Bay. His OPS against right-handed pitchers is now a very respectable .790. This guy has become an integral part of the Pirates offense.

A few days on the bench might have been exactly what Jack Wilson needed. He looked rejuvenated at the plate, setting up each of the final two Pirate runs. We also saw the Jack Wilson of 2005 in the field. The play he made in the eighth inning, ranging far to his right and throwing across his body to first, was one of the best plays I have seen him make. The play really energized the crowd, setting up for an electric atmosphere in the ninth.

Watching Jack and Castillo play defensively in this game, it becomes painfully obvious how much Sanchez is hurting the Pirates at second base. Castillo made at least two plays last night that Freddy probably does not, including the start of a nice looking double play to end the sixth. You have to keep Bautista on the field, so what do you do? Is Freddy's additional offensive production over Castillo enough to warrant giving up so many additional runs because of his defense? Right now, Freddy's OPS is an even .700, while Castillo's is .664. Are the Pirates bold enough to put the defending batting champion on the bench? Of course not. But maybe they should. Or, as Rocco DeMarro mentioned on the post-game show last night, maybe they should consider moving Bautista to the outfield and Sanchez back to third. I don't know, I don't have an answer. But it sure was fun to watch Jack and Castillo locking down the middle infield again.

Matt Capps did not look sharp in this game. He hit a batter and walked two others, one of which brought home a run. By the way, did Major League Baseball forget about his pending suspension?

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