Starling Marte Pirates

Winter Leagues: Marte and Polanco In the Same Outfield

In the Dominican from Friday night, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco got their playoff schedule started. Their Escogido team lost 2-0 in the opener. Marte went 1-for-4 with a single, while Polanco had his toughest game of the Winter, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The two Pirates players were in the same outfield for the first time, with Polanco in center field and Marte in left field.  Marte was the designated hitter in his three regular season games.

Starling Marte Pirates

Marte played his first Winter game in the field Friday night (Photo Credit: David Hague)

In Puerto Rico, Benji Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with a walk and hit-by-pitch. He has now reached base seven times in his last two games. Gonzalez is hitting .327 through 18 games.

From Colombia on Thursday night, Harold Ramirez went 1-for-4 with a single. He is hitting .311 through 28 games, with four doubles, three triples and seven stolen bases.

Yhonathan Barrios pitched for the first time in over three weeks and had a good outing, retiring all three batters he faced, one by strikeout. Prior to Thursday, he had troubles in each of his five previous outings, allowing a total of ten runs and 18 base runners in just three innings.

In Australia from Saturday, Danny Arribas went 1-for-3 with a single, before being pinch-hit for in the ninth inning. Arribas caught the game and allowed one stolen base in one attempt. He is hitting .177 through 22 games, with a .474 OPS.

Andrew Lambo isn’t playing this weekend and it looks like his Winter is done. Some players in Winter ball are allowed to change teams for the playoffs and in the Dominican they even have a draft, where the four playoff teams each pick four players from the two teams that didn’t make the playoffs. Lambo’s team was eliminated from the playoffs last night. If Lambo is in fact done, he finishes with a .228/.311/.337 slash line in 27 games. He has six doubles, two triples, no homers and he drove in 17 runs. Lambo drew 11 walks and struck out 28 times in 92 at-bats.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

Winter Leagues: Three Hits For Gonzalez

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Winter Leagues: Escobar Homers, Polanco Leaves Game Early

  • leefoo

    What? Cutch couldn’t find the time to play with them? I hate these spoiled super stars.

    • John Dreker

      He wants to wait for a special game to have all three together for the first time. Not the first game of an 18 game playoff schedule in the Dominican, he wants Pirates fans to be able to pack the stadium and all share in the monumental occasion: The birth of the greatest outfield ever. People will cherish those ticket stubs and pictures, telling their grandchildren about the game with tears in their eyes, waxing poetic about it, like it was the first time they saw a sunrise. I can’t blame him for wanting to share that with as many Pirates fans as possible, something the whole city can rejoice in. Expect it to happen during the Black & Gold exhibition game on Feb 25th and they will each play about four innings

      • unfurious


      • leefoo

        John…glad you ‘got’ the tone of my comment. :) :)

        I’m not sure ‘unfurious’ did….lol

        • unfurious

          I did; thus the chuckle. I was just being appreciative of a nice, over-the-top rant. :)

          • leefoo

            I thought the ‘wow’ was as in “is he serious?”.

            I guess I didn’t ‘get’ your wow.

            :) :) :)

      • The Masked robshelb


        Mr. Dreker,

        There’s yet another perfectly logical and valid reason to delay showcasing Messrs. Marte, McCutchen, *AND* Polanco in the OF all at the same time. It’s kind’a like lowering fuel rods in a nuclear reactor in order to begin, or to increase, nuclear fission.

        Similarly, just as sure as God made big green apples, the first time Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco simultaneously appear in the same outfield, without a doubt the entire baseball diamond — and perhaps even the entire baseball stadium — will suddenly light up and find itself suffused in a bright, golden, shimmering light.

        Which means either (a) the home team will have to spend a lot of money in advance buying sunglasses for all the fans in attendance [and we know how sometimes the Buccos are reluctant to spend oodles of money], or (b) as a corporate entity, the PBC will have to face thousands of lawsuits from all the people claiming temporary (or permanent) blindness and/or mass hysteria . . .

        Clearly then, the only solution to this dilemma is to keep Mr. Polanco in Indianapolis for as long as possible — until everyone is 100,000% sure he is actually well, you know, . . . uh, “ready.” (And if we hold him back for another two years, then I think — according to the Rules of Baseball — that will give us another 17 years of “control.”)

        I mean, rilly. When one thinks about all the possible repercussions and ramifications, it makes all the sense in the world to delay bringing Gregory up to The Big Club for just as long as possible.


        • G4

          Always nice to see the periods.

          Happy New Year Rob.

  • Buccoguy1979

    John – am I reading Lambo’s stats correctly? He didn’t hit a homer? I like the walk rate, but that’s about it. I was hoping for a strong showing from him. Thoughts?

    • John Dreker

      Yes, he didn’t hit any homers. The league isn’t a big power league, but that is a bit shocking. My initial thoughts were that he was rushed into the lineup and wasn’t ready for it. He went two months without playing a full game anywhere. He then landed in Venezuela on a Friday, was in the starting lineup on Tuesday against guys who have been playing for a month already. He said he was pressing a little early when he didn’t hit right away and was taking extra BP. Lambo then started to hit pretty well, without power though, but one ten game stretch, he batted .333 and was driving in runs. My guess is that he wasn’t ready for the speed of the game when he first started and just tried to get back on track by keeping it simple. He has a ton of power, so while it looks bad, I wouldn’t panic. I guess the positive you can take out of his experience is that he got reps in at first base and showed well, making just one error there.

      • leefoo

        Keith Law says he never cares about winter ball stats.

        • John Dreker

          I don’t think any small sample size should be scrutinized too heavily and that includes the major leagues, after all, Kevin Maas and Joe Charboneau aren’t in the Hall of Fame.

          With Polanco, we know he is good and he only backed that up in Winter ball, though winning the MVP in a league full of players that are older with many having major league experience is quite impressive. What I think we are seeing with him, is the fact that he is still getting better and closer to being a finished product.

          With Lambo, you’re seeing that he likely isn’t going to be a superstar, but you can’t dismiss what he did during the regular season and the fact he is older than Polanco, just means he is closer to being a finished product. Lambo has plus power, but that comes with poor BB/K ratios. That usually doesn’t lead to great success, but he can still be a serviceable bench player. Would be nice to have a lefty with power that can play 1B/OF on your bench.

          I think we may see him get a legit chance to win a platoon spot at 1B in Spring Training, but if he doesn’t, then he will likely return to AAA so he plays everyday instead of being just a lefty off the bench that barely plays. He won’t be used like he was this September

          • tlstates

            I just had to give you some props for the Kevin Maas reference. For a time he looked like the next great Yankees power hitter. An obscure reference and I appreciate it.

  • Kerry Writtenhouse

    Pittsburgh is always going to be a team that lives and dies with its young guys and fills in the holes with trades and free agents. He’s ready for a shot in that 1st base hole. If he’s struggling come all star break, make a move.

    • Nick A. Capernicus

      Then half the season is gone

  • G4

    Lambo’s got AAAA written all over him to me.

    • leefoo

      Oh, G4, you’re such a debbie downer.

      Nice logo tho. :)

  • Kerry Writtenhouse

    That’s just the way it is. It’s dawned if you do and dammed if you don’t with pirate fans. On one hand you want an upgrade at first with a former top 100 prospect seemingly ready. If they upgrade and bring in a flawed player like everyone is clamoring for and a guy like Lambo goes elsewhere and succeeds, the all knowing fans will be up in arms over getting rid of him without having a chance to succeed (ala Jose bautista). They can contend with Lambo whether he’s struggling or not.

  • piratemike

    I hope whatever the Bucs do they do it before the season starts.
    I don’t like those late season trades. They over-paid last season for a month of play. I know a lot of people would disagree and maybe I suffer from PSS but I would rather trade those prospects before the season starts and get a full season of play than a month or two especially if those players are going to be free agents at the end of the year.
    I can understand if there are injuries and it is the only option.
    Is there a possibility that Snider or Decker could fill in if Lambo fails at 1b.

    • Bruce Humbert


      I am not sure how you know what to do now – or at the start of any year…

      Last season the Pirates had Snider in right and Jones/Gabby platoon at first…

      Snider got off to a pretty good start – so no problem in RF going into May…
      Jones struggled – but he was going off of an ok 2012 – with some HR pop…

      Morneau was probably not even available at that time…
      Byrd could have been signed as a free agent before the season – but nobody other than the Mets made him an offer – seen as a high risk player…

      NONE of the players the Pirates traded had any value to the Pirates as future major leaguers – Pressley had been tried and failed multiple times and need a change of scenery…

      While I think there were some sensible moves that the FO passed on – trading for Ike Davis at this point is not a smart move it it costs anything more than a prospect in the 20-30 range…

      • piratemike

        “I am not sure how you know what to do now – or at any start of a year”
        That goes for at any point of a season. Remember when they went through 8 catchers?
        I agree Davis is not worth Kingham and I don’t want him but if Neal feels he must have him then put a decent deal together now because if they are desperate during the season it may cost them a Kingham.
        If it was me I wouldn’t take Davis unless we took him off the Mets hands so they could save payroll but I’m not the GM.

      • Y2JGQ2

        None? Are you forgetting vic Black- Definitely had value. Sorry to bust your bubble-icius rant

        • John Dreker

          I would’ve added it two more Vic Black types if you could get Dilson Herrera back. A reliever with injury and control issues will never have the value(to me) of a regular position player in the majors and I’d be surprised if Herrera wasn’t a regular 2B in NY in a few years

  • Brian Bernard


    Interesting article from ‘the beanball’ where interviewee Vic Black made two statements.
    1. He noted that the Mets placed faith in him as soon as he arrived and put him in situations that the Pirates wouldn’t put him in.
    2. He noted that he never looked at an advanced scouting report until going to the Mets.

    those two things struck me as very interesting. I’ve felt the same way about prospects. If they earn their way onto the team then use them – especially in similar ways to how you’ve brought them up.
    Secondly, how could it be that he never saw an advanced scouting report. Even in his short time with the team that seems very unusual.

    • John Dreker

      While I can’t comment(because I don’t know) about the advanced scouting report, I will say that the Mets situation and Pirates situation with him were obviously different. The Pirates called him up to be a short-term fill in and they had much better late inning options, while the Mets had nothing to lose by putting him in those roles.

      Black was the closer in AAA all season for the Pirates. So he was being used in high pressure situations, but at the time of his call up, he obviously wasn’t one of the best seven relief options they had, he was just the seventh best healthy option at the time. He also didn’t do so well for the Pirates, so there was that.

      My only guess on the advanced scouting is that he wasn’t around too long in Pittsburgh, so maybe it was just a time/role situation.

      • impliedi

        When I saw that Brian mentioned that Black hadn’t seen a advanced scout report above, I was assuming he meant that the Pirates didn’t ever offer one to him. But, as I read the actual interview, it’s sounds more like Black just never bothered looking at the reports, until LaTroy Hawkins convinced him of their importance.

        I’m just guessing, but I’m assuming that most teams make these reports available to players, but they don’t FORCE them to use them. It’s completely up to the players. And Black was saying that he never saw the need, until Hawk convinced him otherwise.

        To be honest, it seems like advanced scouting reports are pretty pointless for relievers.

        I fully understand it for starters. Starters will face these guys multiple times. They’re looking for tendencies, setting up a guy one way in the first at-bat to then do something else in the 2nd. They know that they’ll be facing nearly half of the team’s roster during that day, so the more info you’ve got, the better.

        For a reliever, especially a young one, to bother to learn the tendencies of 13 different hitters (starters & bench) for each team, when there’s no guarantee that he’ll see any of them, seems like a waste of time. Filling up the head of a young kid reliever. Especially, when these guys are 1 or 2 pitch pitchers, that are mostly just going to be throwing their best stuff. On top of that, every time a reliever comes in, the manager/pitching coach and catcher can go over each batter as they come up.

        • piratemike

          Good post.

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