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  • If the Top Priority is to Win, the Pirates Need to Promote Starling Marte by Jon Pennline

know, it seems rather odd to ask if the Pirates are truly focused on winning when they are ten games over .500 in the middle of July. In fact, saying the "Pirates" aren't focused on winning is using too broad a brush to paint out the lackadaisical approach to improving this team.

No, not on the trade front since Neal Huntington is probably spending most of his time on his cell phone looking for deals, but rather, within the system he touts so highly.

Starling Marte is sitting in AAA batting .291/.353/.510 with 11 home runs, 58 RBI's, and 18 stolen bases. While his 82 strikeouts are still more than what management would like to see, the front office has outwardly expressed Marte's improvement in pitch recognition, a must-learn for all aspiring MLB hitters.

The time to promote Starling Marte was three weeks ago, but since he's still in AAA and the Pirates still only have one Major League caliber outfielder, let's say NOW is the time to promote Starling Marte.

Josh Harrison is not an outfielder.

Drew Sutton is not an outfielder.

Alex Presley is not a starting outfielder.

And yet, a perfectly good outfielder who has a better defensive skill set than Andrew McCutchen is sitting in AAA. Why? To learn right field? If this is a defense mechanism in response to his lapses in spring training, then it's a poor one. The ballparks in Florida are extremely windy in the month of March, turning the most routine fly ball into an adventure.

Marte could track down a fly ball with his eyes closed better than Drew Sutton or Josh Harrison playing in the outfield. The miscues by Harrison on Monday night arguably led to a win for the Colorado Rockies. Last night, Sutton misplayed a ball leading to a run, while Alex Presley dropped a fly ball allowing the Rockies to strike first.

Where is the holdup?

Some believe the Pirates are holding Marte to test how he reacts to not being promoted when it seems he should. That strategy has been used countless times by Pirates' scouting and development director, Kyle Stark. It's a good idea when you are trying to groom a star player on a mediocre team, however, when you have a team pushing for a playoff spot -their first in 20 years- you put the best nine players you have available. Starting a utility infielder in right field is an insult to the players and fans who are clamoring for baseball in October.

The Pirates already lost one game from bad defense in the outfield this week. How many more games do they have to lose before they make the call? If the Pirates are truly looking to improve their team, their first move should be to call up Starling Marte. He's ready and he won't cost you a dime.

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