The struggle is real for these Pittsburgh Pirates


For the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates, much has been said about the stability of the organization and the 25-man roster.  We have not seen so few battles for positions in recent Pirates history, we were told.  Player X will play in position X and player Y will play in position Y, case closed.  After almost two full weeks of spring training and some live game action, there are suddenly a few players shouldering disappointing springs that may have us doing some slight second guessing.  While it’s nothing earth shattering on the level of Andrew McCutchen or Gerrit Cole, nevertheless there are a few surprising performance that some players have turned in.  But is their struggle real?  Will they carry over to the regular season?  How much weight should we put to these scuffling Bucs?  I aim to definitively answer these questions for you.

Lambo has single-handedly opened the door for Jaff Decker to make the 25-man roster when camp breaks, and that in itself is a clear sign that Lambo cannot grasp the opportunity in front of him.

Sean Rodriguez, who I’ve previously written about here, was not brought to Pittsburgh to be any kind of offensive threat.  Yet still, his spring slashline of .091/.091/.091 is absolutely alarming.  While he had some pop in 2014 with 12 HR and 41 RBI, I would still like to have seen a bit more from Rodriguez so far this spring.  1-for-11 with one single and two strikeouts is absolutely discouraging by any means.  For him, I will say that that his struggle is not real.  While I’m not expecting him to approach Travis Snider-like pinch hitter numbers, his career slash of .225/.297/.372 has me hoping for somewhere in the .240-.250 range as a part time player and pinch hitter.  In his arguably-best season of 2010, he brought that line up to .251/.308/.397, so a respectable average can be reached.  I need to see more before I can say that this Sean Rodriguez is what we’re getting.

More from Rum Bunter

Andrew Lambo carries the weight of a horrendous spring in 2014 that caused him his shot at starting the year as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting first basemen.  His demotion from an assured spot forced the Bucs into the Travis Ishikawa and Ike Davis experiments.  In 2015, the song remains the same, as Lambo is absolutely lost at the plate right now.  For the spring, his slash comes in at .063/.063/.125 (that’s 1-for-16, folks).  While he does have only two strikeouts, you have to wonder what exactly causes him to have these horrendous springs when so much is on the line for him. The struggle is absolutely, unequivocally real for him until he proves otherwise.  He has single-handedly opened the door for Jaff Decker to make the 25-man roster when camp breaks, and that in itself is a clear sign that Lambo cannot grasp the opportunity in front of him.

Jose Tabata wowed the crowd with his batting practice theatrics and gave Pittsburgh Pirates fans a glimmer of hope that he could one day live up to his premature extension.  So far, in live game action, he has taken a huge step back, coming in at .100/.100/.200 after going 1-for-10 with a double and a run scored.  Marring his spring ever further are five ugly strikeouts.  The struggle is absolutely real for Tabata and one wonders what drastic measures the Pirates may be forced to take to get him out of the organization.  I fully expect the Pirates to eat some of his salary and jettison him to the first taker.

Say it with me:  it’s only spring training.  But all of the players mentioned here have unique circumstances that can allow us to give their respective springs just a little more weight.  The good news for them is that they still have some time to make an impression on the coaching staff.  The bad news?  As established regulars get more and more work, their opportunities are dwindling.

Next: The very best pitches of The Shark Tank