Pittsburgh Pirate fans gnawed and howled like a pack of ravenous wolves at the prospect of getting a first basemen into PNC Park throughout the offseason. Nothing short of a big name acquisition would satisfy their thirst for talent.
Never mind the fact that Gaby Sanchez came into spring training in the best shape of his career more than prepared to take on a larger role in the offense.
Never mind the fact that he worked tirelessly in the offseason to be able to put himself in a position to hit .303 in Spring Training, included .375 against right handed pitching, in the hopes that he just gets a CHANCE to prove he can play every day.
Sure he’s hitting .220 now, but after exactly zero opportunity to actually compete on a regular basis, who can blame him? In addition to not getting regular playing time he had to endure the seemingly endless echoes from media and fans alike calling for management to replace him.
He was cheated out of an opportunity to show he can play every day despite doing everything in his power to earn that shot. Of course he’s demoralized. They didn’t even give him a chance.
So NH went out and got Travis Ishikawa in the offseason. And Pirate fans screamed. And they decried the decision as greed motivated and a shameless plot to keep the Pirates under budget and out of the playoffs.
Never mind the fact that Ishikawa has a career .262 batting average against right handed pitching coupled with a .329 OBP. He wasn’t a big name free agent and hence as soon as he had a bad string of games, like ALL major league baseball players do, it was time to cut the cord.
But instead of doing the obvious, which was FINALLY giving Gaby Sanchez a chance to play regularly, at least to just SEE if he can produce, they immediately acquiesce to the public and go out and get Ike Davis.
So Pirate fans, you wanted him….. you got him.
When this trade happened my first reaction was this is Huntington bowing to the pressure from the public to make a move just to satisfy the masses. Just like he did when he got rid of Brandon Moss. After all, Ike Davis couldn’t even beat out Lucas Duda.
But a change of scenery makes all the difference!
Through 27 at bats, Ike Davis has 5 hits and is batting .185. Sure he came out of the gate on fire… 5 for 13 in his first three games as a Pirate including a grand slam that we won’t soon forget. And Pirate fans cheered wildly!
Since then he is hitless in 16 straight at bats. And Pirate fans sulk sullenly.
Such a streak would have given Gaby Sanchez and/or Travis Ishikawa a one way ticket to the unemployment line. Actually Ishikawa went hitless in his last 7 at bats before he was sent packing. 3 of those came after being heavily demoralized as the whispers of the trade and his eminent outright assignment grew louder. He was not a superstar, but he would at least have kept his foot on the bag during a slightly less then routine double play attempt against a division rival. (low blow admittedly)
But some would say it’s just a small sample for Ike. 27 at bats means nothing! Well, you’d be right. But add in the fact that he only had 5 hits in 24 previous at bats with the Mets this year and you now have a 50 at bat sample. He’s hitting .196 so far.
If that’s not enough, how about a 317 AB sample in 2013? He hit .205.
Well, he hit 30+ Home Runs in 2012 says the public. Sure. But I’ve seen plenty of players have a sudden and magical ‘burst’ of power that comes out of nowhere and seemingly disappears into thin air the following year.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am cheering for Ike Davis. I am crossing my fingers that he miraculously turns into a player that I know he is not anymore. And I am staying hopeful that he gets back to hitting .264 with 19 home runs like he did 4 years ago. (Which is Ishkawa’s career BA vs RHP)
But on a team that struggles mightily with getting players on base and then getting them across home plate, it seems to me that the last thing you want to inject into that lineup is another streaky, hit and miss, oft-outed, .240 career ML hitter that absolutely belly flopped last year into a massive pool of irrelevance who might……and I mean….MIGHT…..just return to the player he was 3-4 years ago if every single star in the sky aligns 100% properly. I mean…. it could happen?
But the Mets didn’t trade him to us for a relief pitcher, a prospect, and a box of cracker jacks because they thought he was GOOD you know.
For me Ishikawa was a stable, above average glove and a slightly better than average veteran hitter that got on base. And that was more than fine with me.
Because right now, more than anything, what the Pirates need….is a little stability.
For real Pirate insight, follow me on Twitter @TheBigTuna66 and listen to ‘The Big Tuna’ show every Sunday before the game on H4TV.