Can Walker save woeful Pirates infield? 

June, 2, 2010

About a month ago an angry, bitter and likely long-suffering Pittsburgh Pirates fan -- there are many of them, I would guess -- kept e-mailing me about how bad his favorite team's regular infield was, from Jeff Clement to Akinori Iwamura and Andy LaRoche. Occasionally, he'd rip Ronny Cedeno at shortstop, though let's admit that expectations weren't particularly high there. I couldn't disagree about the totality of the underachieving, having been burned by each of these guys at some point in fantasy baseball over the past year or so. What I found interesting was this fan wasn't complaining about Pedro Alvarez needing to be promoted from Triple-A. This guy wanted Neil Walker in the big leagues. Neil Walker?

Each time I read this fellow's daily thoughts about Walker, I chuckled, because this didn't seem like someone who was going to make a difference in the major leagues. A switch-hitting third baseman and the organization's top draft choice in 2004, Walker didn't have the look of future stardom as he kept repeating Triple-A Indianapolis year after year, first starting in 2007. He was still there a bit more than a week ago, pushed over to second base so Alvarez could play regularly. Alvarez is the stud prospect, with immense power, knocking in nearly a run per game. Walker seems like organizational fodder, yet another top draft pick looking like a bust.