Pirates Continue First Baseman Quest, Acquire Ike Davis


Apr 5, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis (29) gets a pie in the face by New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese (49) after hitting the game winning grand slam against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. The New York Mets defeated the Cincinnati Reds 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates finally acquired Ike Davis from the New York Mets after an off-season fueled by rumors of such deal taking place.  The interesting part of the trade is that the Bucs gave up a player to be named later along with the wizard of the groundball, Zack Thornton.   The Pirates have plenty of such pitchers (results-driven relievers) in their loaded farm system.

So, right now – and that’s the key part of the sentence – the deal is a no-brainer for the Bucs.

Davis is getting paid $3.5 million dollars this season, which is his first as an arbitration eligible player.  The 27 year old has a solid .828 OPS against righties in his career.  The first base platoon that was announced to open the season for the Pirates made very little sense.  Gaby Sanchez won’t continue to hit right handers consistently and, c’mon… Travis Ishikawa?  Damn, what a poor decision.  So, anyway, the Pirates awarded the first base left handed hitting job to Travis Ishikawa and he will be added to the long list of first baseman that haven’t worked out well for the Buccos.  Maybe the entire decision was to bluff the Mets along with Pirates fans.

The real message we learned from the deal is that  Andrew Lambo is not thought very highly of by the club.  Everyone saw a glimpse of that last season when the team broke the bank, ahem, to acquire Justin Morneau.  Now the team will write a nice payroll check to Davis rather than give Lambo an opportunity.  Lambo’s struggles in Spring Training set his fate for the 2014 season.   It’s the closest thing to a statement Neal Huntington can make with such a tight payroll budget.

The sheer number of first baseman the Pirates have acquired over the past few years is rather alarming.  From our perspective, it gets old writing about all of them, and Davis does little for us.  With the acquisition of Davis, another low-stakes gamble is being made.  It’s not a lot of money, so that’s one nice thing for the Bucs, but the odds of anyone at the big league level being able to fix the woes that beset Davis seem unlikely based on their track record.

We assume the Pirates have checked out Davis physically.  The guy was in a walking boot a month ago, so that’s important for us.  Yeah, he’d made 30 plate appearances with the Mets, but is he truly healthy?

In looking at the hit charts, Davis will be helped by moving to PNC Park from Citi as his home field.  The big challenge will be to see if the Bucs can assist him in hitting pitches on the outside of the plate.  What’s Wrong With Ike Davis was an interesting article two years ago, and still is today.

If the team decides to let Davis show them what he he’s got, that’s fine… we guess.  But we would try to be sure Pags at Indy has an opportunity to work with him however the Pirates can creatively make that happen.  It’s a ‘buy-low’ deal, well, as long as that PTBNL doesn’t come out and shock Pirates fans.   God, we trust that ‘significant’ piece isn’t as bad as it sounds.