(PITTSBURGH) – Did anyone ever think that Pedro Alvarez might be better served being challenged rather than being protected? Or maybe it is insulted? Either way, what the Pirates may have done is erode at his confidence. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those guys who thinks every participant should get a ribbon. In fact, I think today’s youth are coddled way too much and we are always worrying excessively about damaging a kid’s self esteem. I am not suggesting Pedro’s long term self esteem is damaged at all. What I am suggesting is that the most powerful bat that has been on the Bucs roster this year was sitting too far back in the lineup.
As much as we all get sick of people crying about psychological reasons for failure, there are psychological reasons for failure. But, the truth is, the people most likely to complain or cry about it are the most likely to have failed anyway. Just because that is the case does not mean that there is not some validity to it with those who will never say a word. The Buccos placed Lyle Overbay in the cleanup spot early in the season. Lyle Overbay. Yes, that same player that fans were praying would be dumped a month ago. He has been hitting well lately, but he is not a cleanup hitter. Maybe his struggles earlier in the season were part of his recent career trends, but maybe it was because he was put in a position of too high expectations.
Pedro on the other hand, may have been placed in a position of too low expectations. The team placed him near the end of the batting order. As if they thought he was too undisciplined to handle a meat-of-the-order role. And… he proved them correct. But… do we reap what we sow?
Young people can be the most resilient, the most likely to regain their confidence. But, they can also be the most unsteady, the most inconsistent as they bounce between levels of over-confidence and complete dejection. They need to be handled in a special way. One that cultivates discipline, but still builds confidence that leads to courage. Because, it is our greatest players who have the most courage. Take the largest chances. Take the most risks. Who swing for the fences. And the Pirates are a team that desperately needs a player that can handle that right now. And are most likely to trade for one when they already have one on the roster.