One of Dan Bylsma’s biggest mistakes during his tenure as Penguins coach was his misuse/non-use of defenseman Simon Despres.
Despres, 22, was the Penguins’ first-round pick in 2009. He could do no right in Bylsma’s eyes. Despres played when injuries dictated, and often played well. But when options were available, Despres got scratched as soon as he made a mistake. One could imagine Bylsma wringing his hands in glee when Despres erred.
That’s no way to develop a young player of pedigree. Let him play through it, especially during meaningless mid-season games.
But Bylsma sure loved to win those, didn’t he? Nothing better than beating Calgary in December.
Conversely, Craig Adams could do no wrong in Bylsma’s eyes. At one time, the veteran forward was a serviceable fourth-line player.
Not this past season. Adams, 37, was minus-16. To paraphrase new GM Jim Rutherford, you can’t have a fourth-line player go minus-16. Adams was often the Penguins’ worst player. He was an absolute liability.
Adams played all 82 games. That’s insanity.
Let a washed-up bum play through tough times, times get tougher. Let a young kid with talent play through tough times, things get better.
Bylsma played favorites. The above comparison makes that all too clear.
That brings us to Pirates outfielder Starling Marte. Never saw that coming, did you?
Marte is hitting .249 with 12 doubles, three triples, four home runs and a .697 OPS. His stats are down from last year, but hardly disastrous for a player in his second full big-league season.
But manager Clint Hurdle overreacted, and fans followed suit.  First Hurdle bounced Marte all over the lineup. Then Hurdle benched Marte for the best part of a week. Hurdle cited the inadequate number of at-bats Marte had at the Class AAA level, thus providing context for Gregory Polanco’s future failure.
Hurdle usually gets it right. Not this time.
Hurdle needs to put Marte in left field, and in the leadoff spot, every day. Marte is 25. Experience will make him better.
What are Hurdle’s options? When Jose Tabata plays more, he plays worse. Same goes for Josh Harrison. Travis Snider should be a Washington Wild Thing.
Let Marte play through it.

Image Courtesy of Getty Images