ESPN – The Pittsburgh Pirates announced Sunday that Andrew McCutchen will play right field in 2017 after manning center field for the team the past eight seasons.
Starling Marte will replace McCutchen in center field, while Gregory Polanco will move to left field. McCutchen hasn’t played an inning in right field in his major league career.
“After a detailed evaluation, various considerations and many conversations, we have discussed with each of our outfielders the defensive alignment that we will employ. That alignment will be Gregory in left field, Starling in center and Andrew in right. We believe this alignment will maximize our outfield production,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said in a statement.
“Our men were very professional and respectful of the team and each other throughout the process, and are selfless in helping us strengthen our team defensively.”
McCutchen tweeted a photo of Hall of Fame Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente without comment on Sunday night. The right field wall at PNC Park is 21-feet tall in honor of Clemente, who wore No. 21.
McCutchen has played 1,175 games in center field for the Pirates and won a Gold Glove in 2012. Last season, however, he was the worst-rated center fielder in the majors with a DWAR of minus-2.6. He was the subject of trade speculation this offseason, but the Pirates ultimately decided not to trade him.
McCutchen, who won the National League MVP award in 2013, is coming off his worst major league season at the plate, posting career lows in batting average (.256), on-base percentage (.336) and slugging percentage (.430). He also had 24 home runs and 79 RBIs.
Wow. It appears somebody’s balls have finally dropped in Pirates’ management, and now the Pirates have decided to let Andrew McCutchen know he’s not very good at playing center field. You didn’t have to watch more than five games last year to realize this move needed to happen. I don’t care what any of these bullshit advanced stats say, Cutch has been PUTRID on defense. He plays way too shallow, he’s got no Pete Rose-hustle, and he has a somewhat of a candy arm. Not a good recipe for success for a pivotal position that prevents a lot of runners from getting on base/advancing bases.
Don’t get me wrong, Andrew McCutchen probably has more athletic talent in his left pinky than 99.9% of humanity. The problem with Andrew McCutchen, though, is that he hasn’t played to his potential. If he actually put in an effort every once in a while, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make ridiculous defensive plays reminiscent of Mike Trout. He’s fast as hell and he knows how to catch fly balls. Instead, the guy looks like he could give two fucks out there. This is the play of a man that knows management is too soft to ever call him out on his play even with a two-time gold glover playing alongside him left field.
As a long suffering Bucco fan, I can’t say I really blame Cutch for his sense of entitlement, though. He’s helped revive a franchise that once went through 20-consecutive losing seasons and turned them into perennial contenders in the NL Central (until recently when the Cubs bought a World Series team). Management should be kissing his ass for taking over the role as the face of the franchise. You know, that same franchise that once used bobblehead promotions as a ploy to put asses in the seats. Instead, the Pirates have publicly humiliated their first true star in over 20 years this offseason by announcing to the rest of Major League Baseball that they’re looking to part ways him due to his declining play. Since that’s such a more logical tactic than, say, asking a player to simply change positions to better suit his skill set.