First Pitch: Will We See Marte This Year?

Starling Marte isn’t helping his case to get called up to the majors any time soon. The outfielder is currently slumping, with a .190/.298/.429 line in 42 at-bats over his last 12 games. That slump includes a 33% strikeout rate and an 11% walk rate. From the looks of that line, it seems Marte is doing one of three things: hitting for power, walking, or striking out.

Kristy Robinson wrote today about how the Pirates are waiting for the appropriate time to call up Marte, focusing on his lack of total at-bats in Triple-A.

I’ve pointed out in the past that Marte has been a streaky hitter this year. He went on a tear in late June/early July, which had people convinced that he was ready. But this slump is the same thing we’ve seen following every Marte hot streak this year. There are still consistency issues, which means it could benefit Marte to spend more time in Triple-A.

It’s not like the Pirates NEED to call up Marte right now. They have one more game against the Marlins in this three game series. After that, they play five games against the Chicago Cubs and four games against the Houston Astros. That’s a pretty easy schedule, and it shouldn’t come with desperation for an extra bat. That schedule also takes the Pirates up to the trade deadline, at which point they might have an external solution at one of the corner outfield spot.

It wouldn’t surprise me if we don’t see Marte at all this year. It’s not like the Pirates are desperate for him. They’re 13 games above .500, they’re on a four game winning streak, they have an easy stretch of games coming up, and their offense has been one of the best in the majors the last two months. They aren’t playing the ideal players at the corner outfield spots, but it’s not hurting them when you look at the big picture.

Going back to the start of June, the Pirates are 11-2-1 in series wins. The last time they lost two series’ in a row was May 18-23, when they went 2-4 against the Tigers and Mets.

In the short-term for the 2012 season, there’s not much need to bring up Marte right now. The team is winning, the offense is playing well, and Marte is in another slump. There’s no urgency in any of those situations. In the long term, there might not be a need for Marte if outside help is brought in. It could very well be that we don’t see Marte this season because of those two factors.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates beat the Marlins 5-1.

**Pirates Notebook: Burnett Continues to be the Ace of the Staff.

**Prospect Watch: Doubleheaders and Good Pitching by Altoona.

**Gregory Polanco Stays Hot for West Virginia.

**Indians Split Double Header With Toledo.

**Evan Meek Recalled from Triple-A; Juan Cruz Placed on DL.

**Tim Alderson Placed on the Altoona DL.

**Pirates Waiting For the Appropriate Time to Call Up Starling Marte.

**Minor League Schedule: 7/22/12.

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About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • L G

    I’m just confused how calling up Marte will effect his service time, and how long we keep him eventually and all that.

    • Kevin_Creagh

      The short answer is that calling him up now won’t affect his service time.

      Service time (“the clock”) starts whenever a player is on the 25-man major league roster. If you look on Cot’s Contracts at all, you will see the odd nomenclature like 2.145, for example. A year in the majors is 180 days (+/-). A year of service is considered to be 172 days. So if the example above, the hypothetical player has 2 years, 145 days of service. He needs 35 more for a 3rd year.

      The Super 2 determination, in past years at least, was around 130 days of service. So in the past, if a player was 2.135, he was probably going to get 4 cracks at arbitration. Now the new CBA has different regulations and it’s a little up in the air right now.

      A player is not a free agent until he has completed 6 years of service to his team. So if a player started 2012 with 5.150, that team gets a “bonus” year out of him this year, as he has already given them 5 full years and nearly a 6th (just 30 days short), but he fell short and is not a free agent.

      That’s why manipulating when a player gets called up is done sometimes. But it doesn’t apply to Marte here. There’s no real good reason that I can see why he wouldn’t be an upgrade.

  • BarryJT

    I think he might be being pitched around and he’s driving the few pitches he’s getting that are hittable (I haven’t seen any of his ABs, so this is conjecture). If this is the case, you have to decide if there’s any point for him to still be in AAA or if it’s a good opportunity to learn patience.

  • IC Bob

    Marte goes 3 for 5 tonight so his slump turns into Presley’s and Tabata’s season average. The difference is better defense, more speed and more power. We can all selectively look at Marte and make our decisions based on that but I like to go by what the players who play with him say. To a man everyone interviewed on Indy says he will be a star when he hits the big leagues. Lets make it sooner then later.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      You’re comparing major league numbers to Triple-A numbers. There’s a big difference.

      Also, I think Marte will eventually be a very good major leaguer, and I could see him being a star. But you don’t get the same results regardless of when he is called up. So the idea of “let’s make it earlier” doesn’t work.

  • http://twitter.com/andrew_scott48 Andrew Scott

    I agree there’s no need to rush Marte. How many more wins is he actually going to be worth if we called him up right now? I think he needs to continue to work on his approach in the minors. Also, great explanation on the service time.