The Cleveland Indians signed Casey Kotchman yesterday to a one-year, $3 million contract. Now that’s irrelevant to a Pirate fan, but it does kind of finally signify the reality of the Pirates 2012 first base situation. At the beginning of the offseason a lot of people (including myself) wanted the Pirates to sign a power hitting first baseman, such as Kotchman or Carlos Pena if they couldn’t re-sign Derrek Lee. Now Pena went back to Tampa Bay and it seems that Lee would rather not play at all than play in Pittsburgh again, so the Pirates are going to march forward with what they have right now.
So is that a good thing or a bad thing? I wrote this post on The “Mc” Effect talking about this possible platoon. What I figured out was that for Jones’ career, he has hit .275/.354/.483 off right handed pitching and McGehee has hit .261/.323/.420 against lefties. Since you face a right-handed pitcher about 75% of the time in the National League, Jones would get double McGehee’s at-bats (in a perfect platoon, which the Pirates might not institute) this year. If you do the math, the Jones-McGehee platoon should hit something like .268/.339/.452 this year. Here’s the comparison to the other three free agent options (according to their 2012 Bill James projections):<br><br>
Carlos Pena: .223/.356/.458
Derrek Lee: .269/.349/.459
Casey Kotchman: .268/.344/.402
I bet you those numbers surprised you. Jones/McGehee compares pretty well in all three of the statistical categories there, and the Pirates are hardly paying these guys anything where as they would have had to drop millions to get one of the other three guys.
If everyone was free, I would take any of the other three over Jones/McGehee, but the difference is certainly not great enough to warrant spending that much more money on them.
The Pirates seemed to have made the right choice for how to go into the 2012 season at first base. I certainly would have liked to see them add another starting pitcher, but you can’t always get what you want.
Instead of having a big contract manning first this year, the Pirates have a feasible option that came cheap so now they can have some more money to play with in the coming years when our chances of competing are better, and I think that’s exactly how it should be right now.