First Base Market: Davis and Smoak Don’t Seem Like Possibilities

At this point in Spring Training, I think everyone has to expect the Pittsburgh Pirates to go with Andrew Lambo as their starting first baseman. But if there was any hope of adding a first baseman via trade before Spring Training was out, that hope looks to be disappearing.

Ike Davis was one of the popular trade options mentioned, but is currently in a walking boot due to a calf injury. He hasn’t played in a game since March 2nd, and is scheduled for an MRI.

Meanwhile, Justin Smoak was never really made available, but it was always assumed the Mariners would eventually make him available due to their pursuit of guys like Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales. That, plus the addition of about a dozen 1B/RF/DH options this off-season made it hard to picture a spot for Smoak. But the Mariners have announced Smoak as their starter at first base.

The only other trade options are Mitch Moreland (who is currently projected to be in a DH platoon) and Mike Carp. I don’t see Carp being realistic. The Red Sox have no reason to deal him, since they can afford his $1.4 M and would want his production off the bench. Meanwhile, a team would probably have to overpay for him, since the Red Sox don’t really need the type of mid-level prospect that Carp would be worth.

Overall, you should expect Andrew Lambo to be the first baseman on Opening Day.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • CTBucco

    Tim, do you think the realities of the 1b market combined with the lack of upper level 1b prospects in the system have added any pressure to see if S.Allie is going to pan out? Might that be influencing his aggressive push to AA?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/ Tim Williams

      The Pirates don’t move prospects based on needs at the MLB level. They only move them based on where the prospect is at with his development.

  • lonleylibertarian

    It just doesn’t seem that the Pirates are committed to giving Lambo a fair shot. Started Ishikawa yesterday – and Lambo has 21 at bats across 10 games. Why not give him 3-4 at bats in 15 to 20 games – at least 60 for the spring – and if he bats .200 or so you know you have to go to Plan B – but if he clicks you have your first base/RF lefty. This policy of spreading the ABs is just silly. I would be pretty angry if I were your minor league player of the year and had done everything asked of me – including going to pretty dangerous Venezuela BTW and got this treatment

    • emjayinTN

      This is a kid who hit 32 HR’s last year in AA/AAA and called attention to himself. The Pirates presented an opportunity, and, so far, he has done little to help himself. When was the last HR hit? More than 120 AB’s have passed since his last HR. And that is the best part of his game. I wish it was just not hitting HR’s, but he is not hitting anything and an .095 batting average is not going to get anyone to the majors. My recommendation in the best interest of the player is to give him some time at AAA as a full-time 1B, and hope that his confidence and his HR stroke return to the 2013 Lambo. No problem with calling him up in May or June.

      Tim: I cannot expect the Pirates to start the season with Lambo; McGuiness has been the better hitter (around .300) and figures to be the better fielder of the two, but has either proven to us that they can help this team? We are nearing the middle of March, and I think we need to watch the cuts made the next few weeks, but I think NH has already made up his mind, and some trade is imminent.

      • Honusty

        Aren’t you usually the optimist?

        • emjayinTN

          Yes, I like to see the glass half full when we talk about the Pirates, but what can be said about .095? I have followed this kid from day one, and even before that when he was playing down the road in Chattanooga in the Dodgers system. He has had ups and downs, but IMO, he is overwhelmed right now. My approach to him would be to call him in, explain that the Pirates are interested in his long term success, and will be sending him to AAA for more seasoning with the glove at 1B, and then we will check back in May or beyond. Take the immediate pressure off and then see how he handles it. Believe me, a ballplayer knows better than anyone when he is not performing as well as he would like. And, I would be not be surprised to learn that CH may have already had that conversation with him.

    • jalcorn427

      Probably because ST at bats (and winter league ABs) are largely irrelevant and meaningless. Lambo should be judged on his 2013 numbers, not at bats in games that don’t count. I’m fairly sure they are only looking at his defensive ability and have a pretty good handle on what he can do with the bat.

      • smurph

        jalcorn is right. Spring training stats are really meaningless. Unless it is obvious to Jay Bell that Lambo has a weakness he cannot overcome, he should be given a shot. I was going to mention the Pirates have the best spring training record, but that, of course also means nothing, except maybe they have a lot of depth, and their minor league players are better than other teams.

        • indybucfan

          I doubt Jay Bell ‘ s paying much attention since he’s in AZ with the Reds.

        • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

          Jay Bell is probably cheering for lambo to play.

      • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

        Spring Training at -bats are meaningless? Then how do teams hold “position battles”? Correct me if im wrong but if a guy hits .440 its not meaningless everyone wants him up… but its meaningless? Spring Training is just for fun then? To make players remember what it was like playing in little league? I guess grady sizemore hitting well in Boston doesnt mean anything because hes hasnt played the last few years cut him. Im not saying they are the final determiner, but teams look at their st numbers and winter ball, your crazy if you dont think they do

        • jalcorn427

          There is no correlation between ST stats and season success. Its an old antiquated view point. A Saber savvy team like Pittsburgh is not basing position battles on atbats against minor league pitchers and MLB guys working on adjustments. The Pirates MLB roster was largely determined well before ST games and the final decisions are being made based on scouting by the coaches much more so than the numbers posted in these games.

          Boston’s decision on Grady isn’t being driven by his ST stats, Its being driven by their coaches seeing him healthy and with good bat speed/pitch recognition. Take a look a ST leaderboards over the last few years, its littered with irrelevant performances.

          • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

            yeah okay so how do you view these adjustments? in spring training at-bats, so therefore they have a point. Obviously your boy lAAAAmbo is not making the proper adjustments right now

            • jalcorn427

              Yep “obviously” from 20 atbats, LOL.

              • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

                and the atbats last year in the majors and in the winter… what do you think american born lambo went to play WL for fun? The pirates tell him to go and to work on things. obviously it isnt working. Its pathetic that you cant see how clueless he looks at the plate

    • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

      lambo looked awkward last year, did not have a very good winter, and has look bad this spring. Regular At-Bats, guys are tkaing BP every day, you have to earn regular at bats. Also McGuiness has hit better than him and is more natural first baseman, and only a year older, why does lambo deserve a chance over him? Because he hit 33 homers last year, Brad Eldred hit a lot of homers as well as Steve Pearce AAAA

    • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

      We already have our RF lefty in Polanco, also we got him four atbats today looked good 0-4

      • lonleylibertarian

        I love you guys who want to give up on a kid because of 20-30 at bats – go read DKs column – Lambo may be a bust – he may never hit a lick – but last year he found a way to drive 30 balls out of the park – as Hurdle has said – power is a hard thing to find.

        As for RF – we have a really god one – highly under rated – and it ain’t Polanco…

  • Ron Loreski

    I know there’s alot of ST still left to go, but at this point I give the job to McGuinnes. He’s already a natural 1B and he’s hitting much better. It’s not like Lambo doesn’t have options.

    • lonleylibertarian

      You have got to be kidding – making this kind of decision based on 2o at bats is insane. My point was – and is – if you want to really evaluate Lambo for the job put him in the lineup when a RHP starts – and let him get 3-4 at bats – not the on or two they have been giving him.

      Thinking he is a bust based on this very small sample is as silly as expecting Russell Martin will hit 40 home runs or more based on his 4 in an even smaller sample size…

      • smurph

        lonely, the problem is you have to spread out the ABs early in ST, so everyone gets plate appearances. After they send a few more kids down, you will see players staying in the game for 6-7 innings, getting more ABs. You still have 3 more weeks.

        • lonleylibertarian

          Se Below from Fangraphs – McGuiness should be in minor league camp – getting ready to be the 1st baseman for Indy-he is a joke. If you are really want to find out if Lambo is a solution you need to give him at least 60 at bats in ST-yes they have enough games left to do so – but will they.

          My concern goes beyond McGuiness – we have seen a lot of Decker [21 ab], Andino [19]. Dickerson [18] and Morel [17] does anyone think any of these five guys will be going north for the start of the season?

          • leowalter

            Maybe they aren’t as worried about Lambo’s bat as a lot of the ” fans ” are LL. Add in the fact that additional 30 or so ABS will make that much difference in their their evaluation of him, what’s the problem with getting a couple of other AAA backups ready for the season ?

    • lonleylibertarian

      I really don’t get the Chris McGuiness thing…

      From FanGraphs

      You might remember Chris McGuiness from the Rule 5 draft last December, when Cleveland drafted him from Texas. Probably not, though, because they sent him back at the end of March. McGuiness had some superficially good-looking numbers for the Rangers in the minors in 2012 and 2013, until one remembers they were in the Texas League and Pacific Coast League, respectively, McGuiness will be 26 in April, and he’s a first baseman. His 34 plate appearances with the Rangers last year did nothing to impress anyone.

      Steamer/Oliver/Zips -0.1/-0.1/0.1

      Give me a friggin break – why is this guy getting ANY ST at bats – he should do well as Indy first baseman and should be in minor league camp NOW!

      • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

        Whos your answer then lambo?

      • Monsoon Harvard

        One thing McGuiness has to his resume is that he led the arizona fall league in rbi in 2012. It is a small sample, but it’s up against much better pitching the Texas League was.

    • marty34156

      I’d prefer neither Lambo nor McGuiness get at bats in the Majors.

  • wkkortas

    I think the Mets will be so desperate to move Davis and his salary–which isn’t huge, but the Mets seem to be all but wetting themselves over it, not to mention that having Duda and Davis on the same roster is about as redundant as redundant can be–that they’ll jettison him for a bag of baseballs and a medium-warm low-A body.

  • The Masked robshelb

    .

    Wow. I sure hope Mr. Williams is correct. Horray !! And yes, I too would be thinking about giving Mr. Lambo more AB’s in ST.

    Moreover, I don’t have any ST splits (do they even exist ??), but it seems that every time Slambo comes to the plate, the opposing Manager has a LHP on the mound or is bringing one into the game. All guys whom Lambo has never seen before, btw. (Not even much videotape on many of them.)

    As well as Gaby Sanchez is hitting, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him getting his fair share of Plate Appearances, some times even against RHP. Work Mr. Lambo into the picture, more and more, but at a leisurely pace. A way of letting him know that he doesn’t have to get an extra-base hit every time he comes up to bat.

    Seems to me that one of the Big Questions was whether or not Lambo could handle 1B defensively. From the games I’ve seen or heard, he seems to adapting a lot better than most people expected. He has to be nervous right now, knowing everyone’s eyes are upon him. However, I still think (a guess) he’ll get over and/or past it.

    Still got my fingers and toes crossed that he’ll do okay.

    .

  • DaveP

    I am still confused by the Alex Dickerson trade. I am a Padres STH and don’t see a major league skill set that stands out with Jaff Decker. He had some early minors high walk rates however, I don’t envision that continuing in the majors as MLB pitchers will be unafraid to challenge him with early count strikes. The only thing I can think of is that the Pirates feel that McGuinness (acquired for Mikolas) > Dickerson. The Padres have used Dickerson in the OF in spring games and at 1b during simulated games. It appears he is behind Alonso (as incumbant 1b) and Tommy Medica (who is in a similar 1B/OF situation and whose hot spring may force the Pads to carry him on the major league roster). Dickerson has made and impression and could figure in the equation next spring.

    • leowalter

      Dave P. : when you see a skill set from Dickerson that qualifies him for MLB, let me know. I watched they guy for parts of 2 seasons in AA,and the next BB he gets will be close to his first, and he isn’t much of a defensive first baseman or a corner out fielder. So we shall see how long he lasts at a high level. If the Padres are counting on either he or Medica for much production, they will be pretty far behind the rest of that division quickly.

  • Andrew

    The team with a $240 million payroll is going to be starting Dee Gordon at 2B.

    • leowalter

      Just goes to prove that even big money doesn’t cure all ills does it Andrew.

  • John

    I wonder how many people heard on the broadcast from Pirates-Red Sox game that in high school in California Lambo was considered the second best first baseman in the state behind of all people Freddie Freeman. Now I may not be impressed if he was the second best first baseman in Rhode Island or Maine but California. I think he will be fine defensively and will hit well enough with Gaby that first base will be an upgrade over last year. While McGuiness is having a decent spring I really think Lambo will get the first shot up north.

    • wkkortas

      Unless the Pirates have scheduled Mater Dei a bunch of times, I’m not sure Lambo’s relative rank among California HS first basemen is a salient poinit.

      • emjayinTN

        wkk: Priceless!

  • Monsoon Harvard

    Mike Carp has been impressive in camp, smashing two no-doubters against the Pirates pitchers alone this spring. I would love to have him and Sanchez platoon at first. -

    • emjayinTN

      MH: Carp has proven his worth in the majors (.296 with 18 doubles/9 HR’s/43 RBI’s in only 216 AB’s in 2013) and is only making $1.4 mil. He would cost a lot in a trade. For that matter, Smoak has had an excellent ST, and what does that say for the availability of LoMo? I do not have a problem with starting the season with Gaby Sanchez as the full time 1B, giving Lambo time at AAA to find himself, and then letting the results speak for themselves. It is all about production and I tend to waive bad ST results for veterans who have proven themselves in the Majors, but AAA guys have to produce or else.

      • Ron Loreski

        It’s quite possible Gabby Sanchez could be the everyday firstbaseman on Opening Day. If none of Lambo/McGuinness/Ishikaka are impressing, then a roster spot opens up for a player like Jaff Decker, Chris Dickerson, or possibly both Josh Harrison and Brent Morel.

        • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

          josh harrison shouldnt make it either

    • marty34156

      Carp and Gaby would be a great platoon.

  • John

    Well I guess teams don’t move guys to other positions when they draft them for any reason. Never happens right!

  • http://www.piratesprospects.com/ Tim Williams

    The outfield is a more valuable position than first base. Teams generally put their prospects in the highest valued positions, and move them to a lower value position if the player can’t handle it, or if the player is close to the majors and they have a need for him at another position (Walker at 2B, and now Lambo at 1B are two examples).

  • Honusty

    Brett Wallace was released by Astros (again). I think he can be signed to a minor league contract now (versus DFA’d before). He would be another guy to throw into the mix.

    • wkkortas

      Since the current approach at first base is Sanchez/let’s-see-what-sticks-to-the-wall, it wouldn’t hurt to give him a shot if there’s mutual interest. Wallace’s record doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but it’s not like he’d be taking at bats away from the re-incarnation of Lou Gehrig, so…

    • Honusty

      Let’s hope that Lambo succeeds. But Wallace close to free – especially with a minor league deal, he wouldn’t even take a spot on the 40 man. His splits are serviceable, he has a solid pedigree (a former 1st round draft pick that has crushed AAA pitching).

  • marty34156

    Mac….you and I both know the truth….Lambo isn’t working on things, he just isn’t any good.