Gaby as an everyday player (for now)? And what if Matheny improves?


BRADENTON, Fla. –  Neal Huntington suggested on Sunday it remains possible the Pirates find a left-handed hitting complement for Gaby Sanchez. I don’t think Jose Tabata or Vin Mazzaro are going to be the pieces that accomplish that but stranger things have happened. The Boston Globe suggests Mike Carp is a target. I reported back in December the Pirates had some interest in Ike Davis, though Davis is sidelined with an injury at the moment likely delaying his move. The search continues. But it could continue until after Opening Day. So until then what should the Pirates do?

The Pirates want to find out if Andrew Lambo can play. I think he’ll be on the 25-man roster. But this is not a team in development mode. At this point can the club justify giving him the lion’s share of plate appearances in a platoon? He’s unproven and he’s in the midst of an awful spring.

What perhaps makes the most sense with the present roster makeup is starting the season with Sanchez receiving the majority of work at first base.

How does this make sense you ask? Have you seen Sanchez’s platoon splits over the last two years? Yes, I’m quite familiar with them and they are extreme.

But perhaps they are so extreme because Sanchez is a platoon player.

Perhaps becoming a platoon player is also a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps it makes splits even more extreme.  Sanchez’s theory as to why he’s been poor against right-handers the last two seasons is this: he hasn’t seen many of them.

“I don’t think players lose skills (in a platoon), but you still have to train your body, you still have to train your swing,” Sanchez. “It’s tough when you’re in a platoon role and all you’re doing is facing lefties, and then in that eighth and ninth inning … you are facing your one righty every third day. It’s not an easy thing against a guy who is throwing 97 mph in the eighth and ninth inning.

“You’re not seeing the arm angle. You’re not seeing the arm action on a daily basis. It’s tough.”

A convenient narrative?

Perhaps. I thought so initially … but his numbers back up the story.

Sanchez’s numbers against right-handers:

Team                       Year PA OPS

Marlins                 2010 479 .742

Marlins                  2011 503 .742

Pirates/Marlins 2012 215 .577

Pirates                   2013 196 .619

More work might him better against RHPs. I mean this is pretty logical on the surface. The question then is, is an improved Sanchez better against RHPs than Lambo?

Can Lambo better a .742 OPS against right-handers? Sanchez has proven he can reach that level. Maybe he can again.

Who’s on first? Maybe it should be Sanchez. Maybe he can be better against right-handers, maybe he can be competitive against them if he simply sees more of them.



StL Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz notes today some areas in which  Cardinals manager Mike Matheny can improve … and one of them is defensive shifts.

The Cardinals’ one glaring weakness is defensive inefficiency and if they close that gap up they could be a 100-win team. Keep an eye on this early this season.

– TS