Remember when the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Jose Tabata from the New York Yankees? The team was able to get a player like Tabata because of one thing. He had baggage. A team like the New York Yankees seem to not have the time, nor do they want to invest the time, in dealing with problems. We can’t say we blame them. It’s extremely hard.
We rip on the Pirates for some of the dumb things they have done, but one of the things they need credit for is Jose Tabata. The Pirates outfielder is now second in the league with 31 hits after the All-Star Break. He plays baseball as hard as he hits it.
Whatever attitude problems he had when the Yankees threw up their arms on him have vanished. Those things aren’t hard to change, an attitude is something that is personally chosen by an individual. However the Pirates Kyle Stark and his team fixed it, helped Tabata choose a better one, whatever, Tabata looks to be a different player. Does he have room to improve? Sure. He’s 21.
With Tabata soaring, enter Andrew Lambo. He was even more hyped than Tabata. Baseball publications had him pegged as the shit of the shit, Dodgers fans saw him as being the replacement for Manny Ramirez.
Lambo is a baseball player with some serious skills and he seems to have a great attitude. Last season he slumped badly and never found his bat until the Arizona Fall League (AFL). Check out this video after he was snubbed from the 2009 AFL Rising Star game despite being second in hitting.
As you have heard, Lambo has some faults. Think of a young Neil Walker with poor pitch recognition and plate discipline. But Lambo has many strengths that are interesting. He has hit left handed pitching very well. He has hits in four of his five games with Altoona, two of the games he has had multiple hits. Lambo does have sick bat speed. But his addiction is likewise sick and that brings a different set of problems than Tabata brought with him from the Yankees.
With everything ahead of him this year, even though he was repeating the AA level, Lambo slipped again. Instead of building off his solid AFL season, he went back to his ‘grampa’ and was nailed. Not just once, but twice. Remember, this is after being busted in high school and watching his stock falll to the fourth round of the 2007 draft.
So on May 1, he was hit with a 50 game suspension. We have to believe that it was his second positive test. The first would not be disclosed.
If you’re a Pirate fan, we urge you to keep your eyes on Lambo. If you’re near Altoona keep him away from Walnut Street and the low level skunk dealers at PSU Altoona. Of course, if Lambo didn’t have the baggage, he would never be in a Curve uniform working his way toward becoming a Pittsburgh Pirate.
If Lambo can’t admit he has a problem, this experiment is going to fail. Thus the first step is Lambo’s, then the Bucs brass can call up the faith healers, send him to the Meadows, and/or bring in specialists because like Tabata, this project is going to be a complicated one.
The effort, if completed successfully on Lambo’s and the Pirates part, should produce a nice shot term return. Lambo has the ability to be a major league player. He seems smart enough to do even more than that if he so chooses.
But he needs some help.
Let’s trust the Pirates can do just that for this guy.
The world doesn’t need to lose another gifted young man to Mr. Brownstone or to the hose of a Phish show. The Pirates have the time,and the basic template in Tabata, to ensure Lambo can, in the epic words of Axl, leave it all behind.