Pittsburgh Pirates Morning Dew: It’s Time
By Tom Smith
Giving up on Andrew Lambo would be a mistake and that’s why the Pirates won’t do it. It will take time for Lambo to thrive, but it’s worth the risk. Now, just wait. Before you dismiss us, follow along. Take a breath. We aren’t in panic mode about the Pittsburgh Pirates first base position.
Sometimes a player simply needs a shot. He needs someone to believe in him.
Look at the Oakland A’s. The always overperfomring Athletics did it just last year. It can be done. Platoons work. Oakland proved it–and proved it with a collection of players.
We wrote about Andrew Lambo earning the opportunity to be the other half of the first base platoon. We’ve been down that road. Now you need some proof. Gaby Lambo is fine by me. We’re done begging for more investment in the roster.
The A’s needed a right-handed option for first base. It took what must have seemed like forever, but they found it by claiming Nate Freiman off waivers from the Astros near the end of spring training. Yikes and Yikes! Oh yeh from the Astros. The Astros.
Freiman was 26-years-old, originally an eighth-round pick by the Padres in 2009. The Astros had grabbed him in the Rule 5 Draft. Just think Houston could have grabbed Lambo instead when he was left off the 40-man last year.
God what shockwaves would have rippled through Yinzer-ville over that debacle. Of course, the catch with Rule 5 picks is Freiman needed to spend the entire season on the big league roster or be exposed to waivers and offered back to his original team–the Padres.
Freiman is a beast. He’s 6’8″ and in 2012 tore up AA San Antonio with 24 bombs, a .502 slugging in 137 games. So before you think riding with Lambo is out of the question, keep reading.
But just pretend that the Bucs only have Gaby…no Lambo option exists. Imagine Clint Hurdle saying what Bob Melvin said last March about their new acquisition.
"“I just know he’s a power-hitting first baseman that hits from the right side, I looked at the numbers. That’s about as much as I know. We’ll get him in when he gets here. We’ll try to get him plenty of at-bats to where we can make an evaluation on him. We’re not quite there yet, as far as what that dynamic will look like at first.” March 2013"
The 2012 Texas League HR Derby Champ (great You Tube video btw) hit just .148 in April. Did Billy and Co. give up? Hell no. Guess what happened a month later?
By the time the month of May ended, Freiman had a triple slash of .271/.350/.443 and the Athletics first baseman was named the American League Rookie of the Month of May, after hitting .351 in May with a .928 OPS.
As the season moved along Freiman battled injuries. One could say he had a solid season surrounded by awful streaks, or he struggled and had a few hot stretches. Either way, he carried his half of the platoon, hitting .306 on the year versus left-handers getting 48 of 50 starts against southpaws. In an amazing stat, against righties, Freiman only had singles, against southpaws he was respectable, but couldn’t duplicate his minor league power.
The swing is a mess, but my point is this….Freiman might not get a lot of action in 2014 for the A’s, but he did his job in 2013. It’s not that hard to think Lambo could do the very same thing for the Pirates. Giving up on Lambo is dumb. Giving up Sanchez is even dumber. We can’t imagine first base being a strength for the Bucs in 2014, but with some effort it doesn’t have to be a glaring weakness.
The first base position wasn’t a strength for Oakland. But when all of the parts were tallied, it was slightly above average.
Can you guess who made 88 starts at first base for Oakland last year?
Brandon Moss. You probably remember him right?