Pirates Notes: First Base, Burnett, Volquez

The Pirates need to address their vacancy at first base, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes. The Bucs find themselves without a first baseman (or, at least, without a lefty to platoon with Gaby Sanchez) in part because there wasn't much on the market — Castrovince suggests that, given that they weren't likely to sign Mike Napoli, their next-best option was likely Corey Hart, who has had serious knee issues. The Pirates have also explored the trade market, but to no avail so far. Andrew Lambo might be an in-house option, but he comes with question marks. The Athletics' recent success shows one way to win as a small-payroll team is to avoid big holes, and right now, the Pirates may have one. Here are more notes on the Bucs.

  • Days like today, when Clayton Kershaw signs for $215MM, put the plight of a small-market team in perspective, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted (via Twitter). In 1996, Kevin McClatchy bought the Pirates — the entire franchise — for $95MM, or about $150MM in 2014 dollars.
  • Biertempfel also relays bits from Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage's interview earlier today on MLB Network Radio with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden. Searage reiterates that he thinks A.J. Burnett is likely to retire. Searage also says the Pirates are "excited" to have gotten Edinson Volquez, and says he plans to "go back to basics" with Volquez's delivery (Twitter links).


48 Responses to Pirates Notes: First Base, Burnett, Volquez Leave a Reply

  1. Smrtbusnisman04 1 year ago

    It’s too bad that the Pirates couldn’t sign James Loney. I’m worrying about whether Andrew Lambo can hit in the big leagues. Perhaps they should have taken a few million out of Volquez’ s contract and offered it to Loney.

    • Nathan Boley 1 year ago

      I doubt Volquez would have agreed to that haha. He’s not responsible for paying Loney.

      • Smrtbusnisman04 1 year ago

        I meant that they should have signed him for $2.5 million plus some incentives. Liriano only made $1 million last year and you can argue he was more of a risk for the Pirates.

        • Nathan Boley 1 year ago

          Liriano’s base salary was $1 mil. I believe he hit incentives that pushed him above that, but I am not 100% certain. I know he had incentives over the course of his deal after his arm injury though.

        • AJ 1 year ago

          It was only a million because he suffered an injury on Christmas Day. He ended up making around 3.5 or 4M. Loney wanted more than the Bucs were willing to spend. He ended up settling for a little less in Tampa, but he wouldn’t have signed for the same price in Pittsburgh. I trust Huntington completely and don’t mind the wait and see approach with Sanchez, Lambo and McGuiness. If it remains a gaping wide hole, there will be midseason acquisitions available.

    • johnsilver 1 year ago

      They could always offer Kotchman a million or so on a split deal. Maybe he’d have another fluke season like with the Rays in 2011.

      • Ron Loreski 1 year ago

        If they add Kotchman, how are they going to provide enough playing time in Spring Training to see what they have? Sanchez, Lambo, and McGuinness are all going to need AB’s and time in the field.

  2. phillies1102 1 year ago

    I don’t get why the Pirates aren’t confident with a Sanchez-Lambo platoon. They had great success last year without a steady 1B, and Lambo projects to be similar to PA partner Darin Ruf in Philly. His minor league numbers shouldn’t lie, he should at least be a solid 6 or 7 hitter.

    • Nathan Boley 1 year ago

      Yeah, I mean Jones and Morneau were hardly sluggers last season. Lambo has shown prodigious power in the minors and would only be needed to platoon. He couldn’t be that much worse.

      • phillies1102 1 year ago

        The optomistic way to view it would be to mentally swap the roles of the 1B and 3B hitting-wise. Alvares provides 30 HR pop a 1B should, and I would imagine the tandem of Sanchez and Lambo should produce at least a .720 OPS which is average for a 3B. They really should be fine with what they have.

        • Nathan Boley 1 year ago

          I agree. The 1-6 spots in the lineup are essentially set. Whoever’s playing at first that day essentially fleshes out the lineup. There are certainly worse options than a Sanchez/Lambo platoon.

    • TL 1 year ago

      Agreed. The same goes for RF. I believe Tabata is a more than capable replacement for Byrd until Polanco is called up. The rest of the lineup is solid. I do, however, wish they have gone after a better SP than Volquez. Starting pitching is where they will likely see their biggest dropoff, unless Liriano can replicate last year’s performance.

      • Ron Loreski 1 year ago

        I was hoping for Dan Haren. He could’ve been AJ part II

    • Hurdled Again 1 year ago

      I don’t think the Pirates lack confidence in Lambo. I think the ‘experts’ around them do.

      …But they should have offered the farm for Ike! His name even says it all! You can’t go wrong with that!

  3. formerdraftpick 1 year ago

    I’ve noticed that Lambo is a slow starter at the beginning of his tenure in a league. When he was moved to AA, he started slow and then heated up. At AAA, the same. I hope people realize that the same situation may occur in the majors. If it does, I hope they stick it out and keep playing him.

  4. formerdraftpick 1 year ago

    I’ve been looking at a few of the recommendations for 1B for the Pirates the last few weeks, I’ve even posted some platoon situations and potential scenarios surrounding free agents myself. Why not go all in with Gaby Sanchez playing 1B and getting 500+ AB’s in a season and use Lambo as an occasional day off 1B and primary RF? Why wouldn’t you want Sanchez manning first?

    • Lee Foo Young 1 year ago

      because he can’t hit RH pitching?

      • connfyoozed . 1 year ago

        Yes, but we have no evidence that Lambo can even play 1B adequately. He has barely played there in the minors. What you might lose in hitting by playing Sanchez at 1B against righties, at least he fields the position well.

        • James Rogers 1 year ago

          I’ve seen Jones play 1B and it’s hard to imagine that Lambo could be much worse.

          • connfyoozed . 1 year ago

            The only thing I can think of that is worse, is Jones playing RF. 😉

      • formerdraftpick 1 year ago

        He doesn’t hit for average against RHP, but manages to have a decent OPS and OBP against them. There is a difference. I also noticed after looking a little more after your comment the difference in his batting average between day and night games against RHP. Night games are about 80 to 100 points higher.

      • formerdraftpick 1 year ago

        He doesn’t hit for average against RHP, but manages to have a decent OPS and OBP against them. There is a difference. I also noticed after looking a little more after your comment the difference in his batting average between day and night games against RHP. Night games are about 80 to 100 points higher.

  5. John Kreese 1 year ago

    I think a Smoak for Tabata makes sense for both teams. Smoak had a pretty solid second half of last season & is better from the left side of the plate. Tabata would give Seattle a top of the lineup boost & could hopefully play some CF & corner spots as well. Travis Snider can hold down RF till Polanco is ready to go.

    • Nathan Boley 1 year ago

      Tabata playing CF? Oh my. He’s too fat and slow to handle RF, let alone center.

    • connfyoozed . 1 year ago

      Tabata should not be playing CF on a regular basis: he just doesn’t have the range or instincts. He is quite competent at either corner OF. However, at this point I don’t think the Bucs should trade Tabata. Snider cannot hold down anything based on his lack of production since joining the Bucs. I think it would be wise for the Pirates to hold on to Tabata until they know Polanco is ready.

      • Joe W. 1 year ago

        Once Polanco comes up, Tabata and snider will be expendable. If the bucs can fill the hole at first with a good Defensive first basemen that is not horrible at the plate they could put Lambo and who ever they don’t trade in right.

        Tabata can spot start in center but wouldn’t want him to be an everyday CF.

  6. Ron Loreski 1 year ago

    Here’s a crazy thought…

    If Polanco ends up being as good as advertised, next off-season trade Starling Marte to the Phillies for Ryan Howard. If the Phillies are willing to eat majority of that contract the deal makes a little bit of sense.

    An OF of Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco has the potential to be the best OF in MLB, which also of course means an expensive one. Unless the Pirates can sign Marte to a Tabata like contract, someone is gonna have to go.

    The Pirates have ZERO firstbase prospects at any level. Meaning we’ll be having this firstbase conversation every year for the foreseeable future.The short RF at PNC Park could make for some monster power numbers from Howard.

    • Lee Foo Young 1 year ago

      And why would we want someone who has been on a serious decline and is going to be 35 this year?

      I live near Philly and they’d love for ANY team to take Howard off of their hands.

      • Ron Loreski 1 year ago

        Well, AJ Burnett’s decline started at age 33 and had his career revitalized in Pittsburgh at age 35.

        • Lee Foo Young 1 year ago

          Well, gee, with that AJ comparison, you just talked me into it.
          :) :)

          It’s not about age, Ron….it’s about his numbers. AJ still had good peripheral numbers (xFip, etc). Howard’s are dropping like a rock. Check out Fangraphs some time.

          I understand a bit where you’re coming from, but I’ll let Philly keep him.

      • Ron Loreski 1 year ago

        And not to mention, Howard is a better option than scrubs like Ike Davis, Justin Smoak, or any other former prospect they’ve been linked to.

      • Lee Foo Young 1 year ago

        Ron….you DO realize that he already plays in a band box? Have you looked at his stats lately? Plus, he’s a defensive liability.

        Crazy talk! :) :)

        • Ron Loreski 1 year ago

          Living so close to Philly, you DO realize how much more pressure there is to perform than there would be in PIttsburgh? And yes I’ve looked at his career numbers, he’s been injured. If he can get healthy, I see no reason why he can’t still put up 30-40 HR’s.

          • wmcclurg 1 year ago

            Not to mention you’re suggested to give up Marte – a 25 year old, who put up a 4 WAR in his first full season, and who is controlled through 2018 – for Howard, who is 35, a defensive liability, and is tied to what is consensually the WORST contract in all of baseball. You say “if he can stay healthy”…what makes you think he can??

            Truly crazy talk.

          • wmcclurg 1 year ago

            Not to mention you’re suggested to give up Marte – a 25 year old, who put up a 4 WAR in his first full season, and who is controlled through 2018 – for Howard, who is 35, a defensive liability, and is tied to what is consensually the WORST contract in all of baseball. You say “if he can stay healthy”…what makes you think he can??

            Truly crazy talk.

          • Lee Foo Young 1 year ago

            Ron….that’s the ticket…remove the pressure and he’ll INSTANTLY become that HR hitter again!!!

            Well, gee, wasn’t the pressure there when he hit those 40 HRs.

            As WmMclurg says….Crazy talk. I wouldn’t trade Snider for him. Howard is just about done.

    • cfjohnsn56 1 year ago

      Ron,

      I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but I don’t think that you’ve seen much or researched much about the Pirates and Starling Marte in particular.

      You are suggesting that the Pirates trade a player that was 1st in all of MLB last year in WAR (5.5) among LFs and was 7th in all of MLB OFs in WAR among OFs as a whole for a guy that was 28th in WAR (0.6) among MLB 1B!

      And Marte still will be under team control for another 5 full seasons and is making league minimum for another two seasons while Howard is arguably the most overpaid player in baseball right now at $25M per for three more seasons.

      But you are right about one thing….it is a crazy thought if you are Neal Huntington and the Pirates.

      • Ron Loreski 1 year ago

        I completely understand your point, and it makes perfect sense. Odds are this trade will never happen.

        BUT…if Marte continues to put up numbers like that, the Pirates won’t be able to afford him. ESPECIALLY is Polanco, Cole, Tallion all end up being as good as advertised.

        Maybe Howard isn’t the ideal trade target, but trading Marte in the next year or 2 is inevitable IMO.

        • cfjohnsn56 1 year ago

          I agree that finances will limit the Pirates signing a lot of these guys if they all continue along their current paths.

          But if they are going to trade Marte, especially pre-arb, they can get a whole lot more in return for him than Ryan Howard.

          Only three 1B in all of MLB had a higher WAR last year than Marte (with a 4th, Freddie Freeman tied). If they are going to trade him for a 1B, then it will likely be someone closer to Edwin Encarnacion than it would be Howard.

        • PhillyJake 1 year ago

          Trading Marte in the next year or two while he’s making the minimum is not inevitable. Doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.

          But there’s no reason they’ll be forced to trade him at least through second year of Arbitration. Maybe after that they won’t be able to afford him.

        • Joe W. 1 year ago

          if the pirates keep winning their ticket sales will go up, merchandise will be flying off the shelves (and not just Clemente Jersey’s), etc.. they’ll be bringing more in. It won’t be enough to keep them all but ‘should’ soften the blow.

    • James Rogers 1 year ago

      Crazy thought is right. Trade an up & coming young player for a washed up slugger? I think not.

  7. Josh Griswell 1 year ago

    It amazes me the growth of money in MLB! Seriously, someone bought a team in 1996 for $95 million, even in today’s dollars that is pretty pitiful for an entire team. I wonder what the Pirates would go for today?

  8. Lee Foo Young 1 year ago

    From NH on Lambo:

    “Andrew played a lot of first base in high school,” according to Huntington. “And if those 34 home runs that he hit in the minor leagues last year as a 24-year-old can translate, then we’re going to give him every opportunity in the world to show us what the bat can do.”

    • Joe W. 1 year ago

      if he can play first as in spring as good as Jones has done most of his career, i see no reason not to put him at first. Especially if he can bat .250+ with some power. If Lambo wants a starting job in the MLB This season 1B is his best bet

  9. Lee Foo Young 1 year ago

    Charlie: “but he comes with question marks.”

    Don’t ALL these guys out there come with question marks?

  10. Phil Gardner 1 year ago

    Plight? Without even sniffing the PS over the entirety, last March the Pirates were valued at 479 million. That’s a 7.07% annual rate of return for a team who did little more than open their gates and ensure the Uniforms were cleanish. I think any investor would take that plight any day.

    Also, the Pirates had always been one of the few teams actually making a profit most every year. I tried sympathy for a half a second, i really did. I just couldn’t find mine

  11. Tigers72 1 year ago

    Lennerton and Perez for some pitching prospect?

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