Pirates Expected to Recall Jose Tabata

The Pittsburgh Pirates are expected to recall Jose Tabata to replace Gregory Polanco, according to Ken Rosenthal.

I saw a few comments on Twitter today, saying that Tabata was going up to the majors, although they were unconfirmed. It seems that this will actually be the case.

Tabata has been struggling in Triple-A, hitting for a .687 OPS. He has been hitting well lately, with a .355/.397/.452 line in his last 62 at-bats. That said, it’s interesting that Andrew Lambo isn’t getting the call here. Lambo has better numbers on the season compared to Tabata (.946 OPS), and has also been hot lately (.325/.372/.575 line in his last 80 at-bats). He’s also coming off a four game stretch where he has four home runs. Furthermore, the Pirates will have to DFA someone to add Tabata to the roster, while Lambo is already on the 40-man roster. That said, it’s not like they’ll have a hard time finding someone to DFA.

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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  • BostonsCommon

    …anything to keep him away from Polanco, lol.

    • Forbes 66

      Unfortunately, Marte is still in jeopardy. Could give new meaning to the phrase Martay Partay.

  • Ron Loreski

    Maybe Andrew Lambo should get a lips tattoo so he can get a call-up. I don’t know what else he has to do.

    • Aaron Shriver

      Maybe if he didn’t stink, he would have gotten called up. But alas, he stinks.

      • NMR

        We can’t be the only ones who see the incredible irony in all these people stumping for Lambo because AAA stats when he’d be replacing a top prospect who mashed AAA pitching only to initially fail against big leaguers.

        • lawdog

          I see the irony in starting Snider, who had a two year scholarship, while saying Lambo is forever done because he had a bad spring training. Lambo too, played all winter and no one cut him any slack for being tired. Someone who mashes AAA deserve a call up. He deserves another look based on his numbers. One bad spring does not make him an AAAA guy to me. If he gets another shot and still doesn’t do well, I would maybe change my mind.

          • NMR

            I’m really trying to find a way to say this without being snarky, and I apologize in advance if you’re offended, but is the goal to win baseball games or make sure no feelings are hurt?

            You’re absolutely right, Travis Snider got more opportunities than just about any player in the past three years. But fact is that he’s producing, in August, during a pennant race.

            Andrew Lambo unquestionably deserves another chance with a Major League Baseball team. But this is 2014, not 2010. No reason at all to give him extended AB’s.

            • piraddict

              Indy is trying to get into the AAA playoffs aren’t they? If you were an Indy fan who would you want at the plate in a critical at bat, Tabata or Lambo?

              • NMR

                Mike Trout.

            • Will Sanchez

              if the goal is to win more games..they sure “MISSED THE BOAT ” during the off season.

        • Will Sanchez

          hey ..by the way..are you still predicting 90+ victories..or are you eating “CROW” now a days..

          • NMR

            Wait, to me? I’ve never “predicted” any amount of victories, nor do I have any clue who you are.

            • Will Sanchez

              I am the guy you made fun off when i said that the buc’s would not win more than 88 win’s ..that was back in April..at the beginning of the season..

      • freddylang

        That’s the best you can do?

        • NMR

          Perhaps you can inform us as to what adjustments you’ve scouted Andrew Lambo making such that you’re confident he would not be an absolute disaster against Major League pitchers, as he was all spring?

          • ginbear

            Spring Training pitching != major league pitching. You have a mismash of AAA prospects, AAAA guys, and ML guys getting stretched out (starters usually don’t even throw 5 innings until the end of spring training, after Lambo was already sent down.) The idea that he is simply outclassed by major league pitching due to spring training doesn’t go very far.

            As far as adjustments go, this site had an article early on detailing what the plan for Lambo was: http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/the-adjustments-andrew-lambo-is-making-after-his-slow-start.html

            The approach was to hit to all fields, instead of being a dead-pull hitter and letting pitches get deeper into the zone (which helps the most handling offspeed pitches.)

            The results of that so far have been a K rate in AAA that has gone from 26.4% last year to 18.8% this year, with a BA and OBP that have increased by about 50 points each.

            • NMR

              Except the spring training != Major League argument only works when a player EXCEEDS expectations, not fails miserably.

              Baseball people, Clint Hurdle included, explained that Lambo was unable to adjust to Major League pitchers pitching like Major League pitchers. Working backwards counts, exploiting weaknesses.

              Andrew Lambo may very well have made the adjustments, but baseball people – the guys paid professional to judge these things – disagree. It’s more than a little silly for guys on the internet to get indignant about such a decision.

              • ginbear

                That’s true too. Hague circa 2012.

                My point is that spring training talent vs AAA talent is not a strong variable either way. You had guys at a level that Lambo has a strong track record of being able to hit, but in spring training didn’t. So the question is why? It could have been luck – he had a BABIP of .100 in spring training, it could have been the crash course on 1B affected his hitting, he could just be a slow starter (a lot of guys are), it could have been a plain old fashioned slump, or he could have just choked when dealing with the pressure of competing for a MLB starting job. If it was strictly because he is ultimately a AAAA guy, you would at least expect him to at least hit AAA guys in Spring Training, but he didn’t even do that. And we know he can do that. There’s something more to it.

                As far as baseball people go, yeah, undoubtedly they know more, but we don’t know their thought process. I believe Tabata got the nod today largely because the team was in need of a RH bench bat, and I ultimately agree with that.

                • freddylang

                  I understand the RH bat thing…but Lambo is hitting .337 vs lefties this year and had a .928 OPS vs LHP last year so he more than hangs in there.

                  • NMR

                    Polanco “more than hung in there” against AAA LHP, as well.

                    • cfjohnsn56

                      It’s a shame that Tabata couldn’t this year.

              • cfjohnsn56

                But those baseball guys are wrong a whole hell of a lot.

              • stickyweb

                Those same baseball people, Clint Hurdle included, basically handed the 1B job to him after last season. I guess they’ve become geniuses in less than a year.
                Or maybe what we’ve been told is actually accurate. He went to Winter ball to re-learn 1B. Since the 33 HRs in 2013 put him back on the map, maybe he said “I just crushed AAA pitching, watch me hit 33 more HRs in only 150 ABs in Winter Ball.” He got into such bad habits, his whole approach fell apart (think Pedro in 2011). Then Spring Training rolls around and he’s says “Oh shit, I’ve got 6 weeks to prove I belong in MLB” and oddly his approach doesn’t improve. He’s still a mess to start AAA when a light bulb goes off and he decides to actually become a more well rounded hitter. Since then he’s been on fire.
                You may think a wRC+ of 98 in 33 very sporadic MLB PAs means a guy is a AAAA player, but thankfully our FO disagrees. So we’ll have the opportunity to find out for sure what Lambo can do after Sept. 1 and especially next year.

                • NMR

                  I made absolutely zero comments on what type of player Andrew Lambo may become in the future.

                  My entire argument is based on the type of player the Pittsburgh Pirates need right now, in 2014, and Andrew Lambo most certainly does not it.

              • Will Sanchez

                on the ave. it takes a 600-900 at bats to figure where it’s a player is a “bust” or a “keeper” by that time the BUCS braintrust have sent said player “packing” citing “we got better internal options” which translate “player is cheaper cost”

            • scbucsfan

              The funny thing is that .703 OPS in MLB is better than Tabata’s OPS in AAA.

            • rickster

              Ginbear. I think you just won the debate with this comment.

          • freddylang

            Spring training is a small sample. Anyone can slump anytime and Wade Boggs hit .256 one year. Matt Hague hit, what, 8 HR and about .340 one spring? Lambo has 91XBH in his last 680 minor league AB and even added 3 XBH in short time in the majors last year. His walk and contact rates are up too. He absolutely dominated in his second go around in AAA in a good league. He is on fire right now. All these things matter. That is all I am saying. MLB front offices fail all the time and there have been a lot of guys on here that are right every bit as much as the Pirates front office. For every Travis Snider turnaround or Garrett Jones making it at age 28 there is a Matt Clement, Matt Hague, or Brandon Wood. There is Brandon Moss, Joey Bats, and one of my favorites Steve Pearce that this fo all got rid of. You can’t wait forever and sometimes the ABs just aren’t there. Hell, they have 3 1B right now. Lambo is every bit of a 50/50 chance to be at least a decent player. I don’t know why you’d even choose to argue the point like the fo has already decided he can’t play..

            • cfjohnsn56

              Very well put.

            • NMR

              Well maybe because that’s not even close to the point I’ve argued?

              • freddylang

                Just replying on what you replied to me. …and yes you are arguing, but I don’t know if there is a point.

            • rickster

              Don’t forget jhay. Whom many on this site thought was just an aaaa player like lambo.. he got his second /third chance.. now he may get mvp votes

        • freddylang

          I think you think I was originally replying to you NMR. But it was the guy who said Lambo stinks.

      • lawdog

        he doesn’t “stink” he is blocked. They signed Davis for two years so they can’t cut him. Now Alvarez is playing 1B. So its OF or nothing for Lambo.

        • John Lease

          Signed Davis for two years? On what planet?

          • freddylang

            Ike will not be tendered and he will begin his career as a journeyman next year…at least I hope. He is just a guy and is where Pearce and Moss were a few years back. Let’s just hope he doesn’t do what they did.

      • Monsoon Harvard

        Then why is Tabata getting called up? He stinks worse.

        • NMR

          Jose Tabata has been almost exactly an average Major League hitter over 1600 PA, including a 125 wRC+ performance over 123 PA filling in for an injured Starling Marte this time last year.

          Your narrative needs updated.

        • Aaron Shriver

          People forget that Tabata helped this team get to the postseason last year with his hot hitting down the stretch hitting from the 2 hole. Now I’m not saying Tabata is going to light it up this September, but I can think of $15 million reasons why they’re calling up Tabs over Lambo.

    • Lukas Sutton

      He could learn to hit RH. This move actually is clear with Tabata getting called. They want a RH bat off the bench for the few days until the AAA season ends. They went with the RH bat they are familiar with rather than the LH bat that has almost no experience against LH ML pitching. Lambo is hitting lefties well in AAA for sure, but one can understand why they wouldnt want to bring him up for a week based on that.

      • cfjohnsn56

        Splits this season in AAA against RHP (facing the same exact pitchers for the most part):

        Jose Tabata
        53 ABs
        .321/0/5
        .362/.434/.796

        Andrew Lambo
        86 ABs
        .337/0/16
        .394/.465/.859

        In almost 62% more ABs against RHP, Lambo has outperformed Tabata.

        • ginbear

          I think he meant batting right handed, not batting against right handed pitching. Ie. when Gaby starts, the Bucs basically have no right handers on the bench that can hit a ball worth a damn.

          • cfjohnsn56

            Sorry, that was facing LHP (which is supposed to be the primary reason for Tabata as a RH hitter. The splits against RHP (which the majority of MLB pitchers are), are an even more one-sided argument in Lambo’s favor:

            Jose Tabata against RHP Indy 2014

            93 ABs
            .258/0/7
            .324/.301/.625

            Andrew Lambo against RHP Indy 2014

            136 ABs
            .324/9/22
            .391/.610/1.001

            • Lukas Sutton

              So the fact that Lambo has less than 3 at bats against ML LH pitching (vastly better than AAA LH) and last year hit .250 against LH in AAA doesnt bother you for the chances he hits LH for a week well? going off of AAA trends for Lambo, it took him a year to go from a .250 hitter to .320 hitter against LHP. He would get a week of at bats almost all against LHP with this call up. So you really think there would be no adjust period? With Tabata, they know what they are getting. A career .268 hitter against LHP that has experience doing so off the bench.

              • cfjohnsn56

                Lambo’s only had 30 ABs at the ML level so no, it doesn’t bother me that he has “less than 3″ against LHP at the ML level.

                And you forgot to mention that Tabata has shown himself to be someone that takes off a lot of plays during the course of a game. He has, on many occasions, gotten himself thrown out on the bases, let catchable balls fall in front of him and, from accounts, been a bad influence on younger players as well as a .268 hitter.

      • freddylang

        I think Polanco will come back refreshed and ready to get hot again, Even when he has struggled he still sees pitches and gives you good abs. It’s not like when Pedro struggles and you just want to poke your eyes out.

  • jalcorn427

    This makes sense as they need to show some value in Tabata if they are going to move him this winter. Every team already passed on him, but maybe they can do something in the offseason.

    • wkkortas

      I can see that in theory, but Tabata’s due to make $4 mil next year. Someone would have to be convinced that he’s a viable starting option to jump on Jose’s contract.

      • NMR

        Three non-everyday outfielders sign contracts this past winter for an AAV less than $4m.

  • Pie Rat

    The Pirates are never going to give Lambo a real chance. Lambo has shown he deserves a chance.

    • Ron Loreski

      The next Brandon Moss? I think so.

      • NMR

        But I thought Travis Snider was the next Brandon Moss?

        Pirates exploiting the future Brandon Moss market inefficiency.

        • Doug Young

          I thought Matt Hague was the next Brandon Moss??

          • stickyweb

            Wouldn’t it be funny if the guys nobody is saying, turned out to be the next Brandon Moss. Yup, it’ll be Tabata

            • piraddict

              Which came first Bautista or Brandon Moss? Anyway Steve Pearce is the first order “next Brandon Moss”. The question is now who will be the second order “next Brandon Moss”.

    • Bucco_Joe

      Lambo will be here when the rosters expand. Neither Lambo or Tabata are key ingredients for any team that has playoff ambitions.Both are roster filler at best.

    • Lukas Sutton

      Thats baseball. Until now he had no spot. He doesnt play 1B well enough for them to play him there in AAA, so it makes him an OF/bench guy. Apart from the week where we had many injuries, he was blocked.

  • bucsws2014

    I’m no Tabata fan, but makes a bit of sense. Playoff roster juggling. Bucs need another RH bat in OF with Harrison at 3b full time. Tabata historically does well vs Cards and other September opponents (except Phils). If Tabata adds some value for an offseason trade, that’s a bonus.

    • Will Sanchez

      Playoff..sure you jest..”i can dream about it” but it’s not going to hapen

      • Stephen Stasa

        Playoff odds are around 30%. Obviously this makes it unlikely they will make the playoffs but it’s no pipe dream either.

        • Will Sanchez

          if you look at the schedule you will see that the cards have that “gravy” schedule that we had back in june -july when we gained

  • ginbear

    His “hot lately” OPS is .001 better than his season total. I think I’d just call that “continuing to play well.”

  • freddylang

    The front office is giving me a perpetual migraine this summer…and I am usually pretty positive about what they do.

  • BamaBuc21

    Any chance Tabata has already cleared waivers? Maybe a week in Pittsburgh would entice someone to take him off of our hands.

  • jaygray007

    maybe they just want Lambo to get ABs

    • smurph

      That is my view. They would rather have Lambo getting the ABs in AAA. You can use Tabata as a RH pinch hitter, maybe give him a start in left against a LHP. Lambo will be called up eithe Sept. 1 or at the end of the AAA season.

      • cfjohnsn56

        But Lambo hits LH and RH better than Tabata so that doesn’t really make much sense.

        • NMR

          A hell of a lot more sense than comparing guys AAA stats as though they’d translate to the big leagues.

          • cfjohnsn56

            Not when you consider that one has been steadily progressing while the other has been steadily regressing.

            Also, I never claimed that Lambo’s stats will translate positively to the big leagues. I’ve been arguing that, playing in the same league during the same time frame, for the same team, seeing the same pitchers, one player has greatly outperformed the other. The fact that one has had a more ML success because he’s had an actual shot at it is irrelevant to that point.

          • Andrew

            You had it right up thread, Polanco destroyed AAA pitching in 270 PAs, was a consensus top 20 prospect and still struggled. Why should the Pirates expect much different from Lambo, over what would be a week and spotty playing time? And isn’t there a line of thinking that you what the more experienced player to for pinch hitting, spot starting duties?

            Additionally, I keep seeing quotes from baseball people that the gap between AAA and the MLB is as great as it ever has been, which is reasonable considering prospects are entering an offensive environment not seen since the mound was lowered.

            Here is the list of top prospects coming into the season, outside Chris Ownings and George Springer mimicking Alvarez’s 2010, there isn’t much impact offense to be found.

            http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2014&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=12161,12984,11737,7739,10199,12282,10030,12907,12533,10441,12856,11173,12532,12979&sort=17,d

  • wkkortas

    Bobby LaFromboise, we hardly knew ye.

  • leadoff

    Last I heard about Tabata when he left was that a 93.7 Fan radio personality said that he was a clubhouse cancer, therefore I drew the conclusion that Tabata was not sent down to work on his hitting or fielding, just his mental approach to sitting in the dugout and learning how to say “YES” when someone hit a homerun, apparently he has gone through the attitude adjustment course and passed.

  • stickyweb

    Hey I just thought of something. When I heard about Polanco going down, my first thought was “will he be playoff eligible?”. I’m pretty sure he will be (somebody correct me if I’m wrong) since he’s still on the 40 man. But then it hit me “Tabby wouldn’t be playoff eligible unless they got him back on the 40 man by Sept. 1″ though again I could be wrong on that.
    So maybe NH has been talking to the other GMs and realized he’s not gonna be able to add any needed parts like he did last Aug 30-31 and he needs all (MLB experienced) hands on deck for the playoffs, especially one who was pretty successful as recently as last year. IDK, just a thought.

    • cfjohnsn56

      If this roster holds until after Sept 1, Tabata would be eligible (since you have to be on the 40 man to be eligible for the 25 man) and Polanco would not be.

      Any player who is either

      – on the 25 man major league roster, or
      – on the disabled list (7, 15, or 60 day DL), or
      – on the suspended list, or
      – on bereavement leave, or
      – on military active duty

      as of midnight on August 31st is automatically eligible. If you do not fit under any of those (which Tabata would and Polanco would not), someone would have to be injured and placed on the DL. At that point, the team can add anyone from within the organization as a replacement.

      • S Brooks

        Morton and Stolmy are on the DL, so that hope is still alive.

  • freddylang

    Just for meaningless fun if you throw Lambo in the minor league equivalency calc…for all 3 years in AAA including his horrible 2012 debut over 631 AB you get .230/.289/.411/.700 and about 50 BB and 170 K Not very impressive. He was 23 in 2012. He was still fairly young but he did already have a bunch of AA and AZFL AB’s. (I think he played in 3 consecutive fall leagues at one point.) Take the last two years’ AAA stats and over 446 AB it is .257/.317/.478/.795 Garrett Jones’ numbers with the Pirates were: .256/.318/.462/.780. Nearly identical except you hope that Lambo plays better defense than Jones. If Lambo played dead average RF & 1B I would be perfectly happy with those numbers over 400 or so AB if he could do it.

    • cfjohnsn56

      Considering what the Pirates have gotten from 1B, I’ll take it!

    • Will Sanchez

      so here is the 64k question..how do you take in account the injuries he suffered in this years?..look it up..

      • freddylang

        He missed more games to suspensions for “drugs of abuse” than he did injuries. He has 2700+ minor league AB.

    • Greg7373

      Lambo hit another home run Monday night – in his last five games he has hit five balls over the fence.