Last night I wrote about how the Pittsburgh Pirates shouldn’t give the first base platoon to Travis Ishikawa, and instead should give Andrew Lambo a shot. Instead, they optioned Lambo to Triple-A as part of today’s big wave of cuts. That means that Ishikawa is currently projected as the other half of the first base platoon. Neal Huntington didn’t sound like Ishikawa was locked into that position earlier today.
The Pirates shouldn’t be locked in with Ishikawa as their initial first base option. You just need to look at his career .737 OPS against right-handers in 684 at-bats to see why. Ishikawa wouldn’t be a bad depth option if none of the other options worked out. However, there’s no upside with Ishikawa, and the Pirates need to try and get some upside from their first base position. If they go with Ishikawa, they’re basically hoping for “Garrett Jones 2013” numbers as the best case scenario.
The current internal alternative to Ishikawa is having Gaby Sanchez playing first base full-time. That’s not a better option, since Sanchez also can’t hit right-handers. He has a career .700 OPS in 1260 at-bats against right-handed pitchers. Even in his best seasons, which were 2010 and 2011, he had a .742 OPS.
If the Pirates aren’t going to go with Andrew Lambo at first base, then they need to make a trade. Ike Davis is presumably still available. Mike Carp could also be available if Grady Sizemore wins a job on Boston’s bench. There still aren’t many teams looking for a first baseman, with the Pirates being one of the primary teams. So you’d think the price wouldn’t be extremely high. That’s especially true when you consider that Davis and Carp could be to their teams what Vin Mazzaro and Jeanmar Gomez are to the Pirates. They’re good options that just don’t have a spot on the team, which means a trade would be likely.
I’m not sure what the cost would be for one of the first basemen. I thought Andrew Lambo would have been a fine alternative to a trade, since none of the trade options were really a guarantee. However, now that Lambo is gone, the Pirates need to deal for a first baseman. The current in-house options are “Garrett Jones 2013”, at best. And as we saw last year, the 2013 version of Garrett Jones is not enough. The Pirates had to trade for a first baseman last year because of the performance from Jones. It just makes sense that they’d have to do the same this year if they’re expecting the same quality of play.
Links and Notes
**The 2014 Prospect Guide is in stock on the products page of the site. The book features profiles, scouting reports, and grades on every player in the minor league system, including our top 50 prospects. The Prospect Guide has been mentioned as a resource several times on the Pirates’ broadcast, and has been purchased as a source of reference by opposing MLB front office members, opposing scouts, and media members. If it’s a good resource for them, it’s a good resource for you. You can order your Prospect Guide on the products page of the site.
**The Pirates Could Be Active on the Trade Market in the Next Week. I think they’ll trade a reliever for sure, and wouldn’t be surprised if they bring in one or two guys for their active roster.
**Pirates Trade For Vance Worley. Mostly I think this is just depth in Triple-A, since the Indians will be missing Jameson Taillon for a month, and won’t have Jeff Locke stretched out right away. The Pirates might also like him as a reclamation project. But part of me wonders if another shoe is about to drop here, leading to a trade from the rotation depth in Triple-A, with Worley replacing that pitcher.
**Wei-Chung Wang Looks To Have Opening Day Spot. I think he’ll be back at some point this year.