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Upset alert: Sometimes spring training stats do matter


SOUTH HILLS – The Pirates’ 25-man roster is taking shape as the club made a number of cuts this morning, the most surprising being that of Andrew Lambo, who was sent to Triple-A after being perceived to a clear favorite to make the club, barring a trade or free agent signing before Opening Day. (Kendrys Morales is shaking his head somewhere).


Lambo was the Pirates’ version of a No. 2 seed who couldn’t make it to the second weekend of the tournament. The Pirates’  double-digit-seeded Cinderella is non-roster invite Travis Ishikawa, who now looks like he’ll make the 25-man roster as a potential platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez and/or left-handed bench bat. I assume Sanchez will play quite a bit vs. RHP early, but we’ll see.

We always say, we always hear that spring training stats don’t mean anything, that we shouldn’t put much weight in them. And that’s generally a golden rule to follow in March as spring training is a small-sample size. Moreover, spring numbers are the product of facing many milb players and MLB players working on one aspect of their game, working on the process not necessarily concerned foremost with results.


But sometimes spring training stats matter.


… especially if it’s an errant or positive process leading to those results.


Case in point is Lambo vs. Ishikawa.




(The first-base combatants exchange high fives after a Ishikawa home run this spring – Trib photo by Chris Horner).


The Pirates were in need of a left-handed bat at first base, at least a left-handed bench bat. Lambo hit .095 without an extra-base hit this spring and GM Neal Huntington said today he struggled to handle off-speed pitches in fastball-ball counts. The Pirates even began batting Lambo in front of Andrew McCutchen, ostensibly for Lambo to see some more fastballs.


Ishikawa’s major league track record is suspect. He has a 96 wRC+ vs. right-handed pitching for his career. The 30-year-old has a .737 OPS against RHPs. (Sanchez has twice posted .742 OPS vs. right-handed pitching in his career in seasons where he was an everyday player). But Ishikawa clearly had a better process and better results than Lambo.


He sprayed line drives around the field. He walked six times in 34 plate appearances. He posted a .333 average and 1.100 OPS. More than anything, he looked like a veteran hitter able to execute a plan at the plate and Lambo looked like a young player who had only 400 or so at bats above the Double-A level – which he is.


I still think we’ll see Lambo get a shot at some point. There is real power in his bat and the Pirates don’t want to let that walk away without seeing what’s there in an era of depressed power. Moreover, Lambo will get regularly playing time in Triple-A, something that might not happen in Pittsburgh.


***IMPORTANT REMINDER: Today’s move doesn’t mean the Pirates will not further look to upgrade the position. Huntington said the first base situation might not clear up until after the season begins. This doesn’t mean Sanchez will not be an every day player. It simply means the Pirates trust Ishikawa more than Lambo on March 25th and that judgement is apparently based largely upon spring performance.***


This is not a team in development mode. If it was, Lambo might get the nod over Ishikawa. This is a team that is expected to contend, that would do well to build upon last season’s momentum, that it is projected to be on a precarious place on the win curve this season. This is a team for which every early-season game matters so March stats did matter in one of the few areas on the club where there was  true, open competition this spring.


Note: Among the other noteable roster cuts were Jaff Decker and Jared Hughes to Triple-A. See Rob Biertempfel’s full report on our Pirates page. These aren’t surprising moves as Travis Snider and Jose Tabata were always expected to share right field in some capacity (I think Snider sees lion’s share of work there). The club will carry four outfielders into the season. The last thing to shake out will be a crowded bullpen.

– TS



  1. NMR says:

    Complete straw man argument, Travis.

  2. I’m shocked at how many people supported handing Lambo the job no matter what he did in the Spring. Spring training stats don’t mean much, but it was clear Lambo was struggling. A contending team simply can’t hand a job to an unproven player that is also struggling. This isn’t like most of the last 20 seasons when the ceiling was 75 wins. Players of Lambo’s ilk need to continue to earn playing time.

  3. NMR says:

    Were all those people down in Florida watching him?

  4. Travis Sawchik says:

    Spring is a dangerous time to make evaluations, I’m certainly not arguing against that. But I also think it’s lazy to assume nothing can be gleaned from February and March.

    It’s still seven weeks with which to take make some evaluations, based more upon process than results. In this case a better process was leading to better results from what I saw in Bradenton.

    Moreover, the more track record a player has the less important spring process and results become. It’s not as if Lambo has a sparkling milb track record. And it’s not as if he was trying to work on one area of his game … he was trying to hit his way on to a major league roster.

  5. Travis Sawchik says:

    Agreed. This decision is more about where the Pirates think Lambo is than what Ishikawa is (maybe a replacement-level platoon type) … and where the Pirate are as a club.

    Lambo can tighten up his game, tear up Triple-A, and if T.I. struggles, he’ll be up quickly barring an external acquisition.

  6. NorthPirateFan says:

    Curious about the closing comment about the Pirates carrying only four outfielders and I’m wondering if that’s a good idea as the offense is once again seems to be listing to the right side of the plate again.


    (4) outfielders: Tabata, Snider, Marte & McCutchen
    (2) catchers: Martin and Sanchez
    (6) infielders: Ishikawa, Sanchez, Alvarez, Mercer, Barmes and Walker

    And what 13 pitchers and the only left handed bat coming off the bench when he’s not starting is Ishikawa? That seems ill-advised for any team let alone one with such horrible splits and playing at PNC .

  7. Nate83 says:

    I said it on DK’s blog but I’ll put it here again because it’s the topic. We don’t know if his spring training stats where the only reason he was sent down. His entire spring training may have been the reason. His time in the batting cage, his defensive work in drills, how he played in winter ball. Going 4-63 has to play a part but there is no evidence that all the other things didn’t play just as big if not larger role.

    We also assumed the job was being handed to him. Maybe I missed something but I don’t remember anybody from the Pirates ever talking about him as being the answer at first. I only ever heard that he would get a chance to prove he could handle the job. He only has 400 at bats above AA. Some people get upset when elite prospects which Lambo is not don’t get more at bats then that in AAA.

  8. NMR says:

    I agree with every word of that.

    Which is why “Sometimes spring training stats do matter” is a complete straw man.

  9. NMR says:

    I’m starting to think people just do not separate Spring Training Statistics from Spring Training performance.

    Two clearly different things, in my opinion, but others may not see it that way.

    Travis is a smart dude. He just wrote a great blog about all the performance-based reasons that caused the Pirates to cut Lambo, and yet still lede’s with Spring Training Stats matter. There is a very evident disconnect there for anyone who treats the two separately, as they should.

  10. NMR says:

    Mike Carp will be a Pirate by Saturday, and that will solve the obvious problem you pointed out.

    Unless Clint Hurdle found some significant change in Travis Ishikawa, there is absolutely no reason for him to be on this team. None.

  11. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t think he would have made the roster if he looked like Keith Hernandez at first base. I think it was his hitting results this spring and not just the numbers but the quality of his at bats – did he have many hard outs, could he score a runner from third with less than 2 outs, approach at the plate, move a runner from second to third with no outs, etc.

  12. Andrew says:

    If you substitute statistics with performance, I think there is no disagreement.

  13. Travis Sawchik says:

    Nate, I agree the process, behind-the-scenes, and in games, played a huge role in decision. There were clearly also some incorrect assumptions made by the media/public in regard to Lambo.

  14. Andrew says:

    For the 2nd time today, should have reloaded before commenting.

  15. Travis Sawchik says:

    Harrison might be a seventh infielder… or maybe the Pirates try and keep all their out-of-option-relievers to begin the season and carry an eight-man bullpen.

  16. NMR says:

    Quick blog today!

    I just don’t think one can say they understand sample sizes yet still equate performance/skill with spring training statistics.

  17. The Gunner says:

    Lambo just isn’t ready……….for now. Hope you are right about Carp, NMR. What do the Bosox need?

  18. NMR says:

    Nothing, unfortunately. Maaayyybe have one spot in the bullpen.

    But they simply do not have room on the roster if they keep both Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr, which they say they’re doing in the form of a platoon. I’m thinking something like the Hanrahan trade, but in reverse.

    Pirates get a player they can pencil into a specific role, Red Sox get prospects that can help now or down the road.

  19. NMR says:

    Mike Carp just simply isn’t very valuable, though.

    Think about all the Garrett Jones trade rumors over the years.

  20. Jeff King says:

    Let’s do a reality check here. Lambo, had a great year last year. His breakout season basically came out of nowhere. His prior seasons showed no progression toward his season last year. And, his winter stats are also alarming. I hope I’m wrong, but we may have seen a one-year wonder in Andrew Lambo.
    I’ve said it many times, but hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports.

  21. Jim S. says:

    I’m in the ST stats really don’t matter camp. But, what you do to attain those stats does matter. I don’t think they liked his approach and mindset (Clint said as much), and the more he struggled the worse it got. He was probably just pressing, big-time. He was not having good at bats, judging from the fact that he didn’t seem to be driving the ball at all. And, he is a guy whose success will likely be determined by his ability to drive the ball at the big league level. So, he left them no real choice. He won’t be the first guy who it took a couple of shots to figure it out.

    Maybe they think Ishikawa can handle a limited role until Lambo gets back on track, while probably providing the best glove of the 3.

    Then, again, they might still be fishing for Carp.

  22. Travis Ishikawa and Travis Sawchik. Only a couple letters separate the two names. Coincidence?

  23. NorthPirateFan says:

    I don’t see how adding Harrison to the mix does anything but make the problem worse. In any game with a RHP starting either Snider and Ishikawa are starting as the splits would theoretically dictate leaving all right hand hitters coming off the bench (some combination of Sanchez(s) Barmes, Harrison and Tabata) which range from can’t hit right handed pitching to save their life to well be low average … OR

    On or more of these guys starting against RHP and Ishikawa or Snider on the bench which is kind of a half butt way to make out your lineups.

    Setting aside the case for or against Ishiwaka making the team a fifth left handed hitting outfielder, like Chris Dickerson, at least until Lambo can hit his way back from AAA, would be a much better use of a roster spot. Assuming the Pirates don’t make a move as NMR is suggesting the Pirates seem to be painting themselves into a corner when it comes to making out their daily lineup loading the roster with right handed hitters most of which can’t hit right handed pitching.

  24. NorthPirateFan says:

    Travis Ishikawa, Travis Sawchick AND Travis Snider … they’re taking over I tell you!

  25. I give Lambo 60/40 odds over Ishikawa of being rostered by the Bucs in June. I could also see a revolving door at first base for most of 2014. Anyone want to set the over/under number of first baseman this year? I’ll go with eight.

  26. NorthPirateFan says:

    I guess I’m alone in another camp entirely … why is an either or choice between Lambo and Ishikawa at all?

    This roster could definitely benefit from another lefty hitter and if not Ishikawa AND Lambo perhaps Ishikawa and Dickerson until either Lambo can play his way back up or the Pirates make a more substantial move in another direction.

    For a team like Pirates playing in PNC Park the idea of having ONE left handed starter on your roster (Pedro Alvarez) seems nutty to me.

  27. NorthPirateFan says:

    Not saying your wrong, because I fear your not, but if that ends up being the case the Pirates are in for a long and disappointing season.

  28. cmat0829 says:

    Spring Training matters. Just like NFL Training Camps matter. For the established players, like Cutch, Walker, Pedro, etc., the stats are meaningless. It is all about getting the work in, preparing the body for everyday play, getting into good routines, etc.

    But for players competing for a spot, Spring Training opportunities mean everything. And Lambo hit .095. That stat matters. It doesn’t matter if his average was .500 or .250, but .095 and inability to hit anything with authority most certainly means something.

    I don’t really know where the debate started… an absolute statement that Spring Training stats don’t matter at all is absolutely not true. It is absolutely true for ESTABLISHED PLAYERS…i.e. if Cutch hit .000 in the spring, he’d still be the everyday starter in CF and batting 3rd. But it can’t be true for players battling for a spot, otherwise, how would the battle play out? A jousting tournament on the outer fields?

  29. NMR says:

    So you’re in the group that does NOT separate stats from performance and process? All one thing?

  30. cmat0829 says:

    No evidence yet that Lambo isn’t the next version of Matt Hague, Brad Eldred, Steve Pearce, et al. Everyone’s #FREETHEAAASTAR darlings, but can’t get it done in the bigs. The challenge/dilemma is how does Lambo get his shot to prove it… Travis correctly points out that the Pirates are a contending team and can’t give him that chance right now… and that’s a good thing for everyone but Andrew Lambo.

    Put it this way, if the Pirates had successfully brought in a real major league 1B to platoon with Gaby (or take the fulltime job), Lambo would be in Indy anyway. And no one would spend any blog space talking about it.

  31. cmat0829 says:

    Not sure I even wanted to engage this debate to be in a group. But here’s my thinking:

    1) Stats always need to be put in context, Spring Training or otherwise. (i.e. big HR numbers in AAA in the Pacific Coast League, for example).

    2) Stats for established players are meaningless in Spring Training. Especially for pitchers who may be working on specific things and not pitching to the game situation per se.

    3) Stats can most certainly be separate from approach or the ‘eye test’, but to me, .095 for a hitter given lots of at bats is hard to separate from anything else.

    Net is, put me in the group that says stats always have to be put into context.

  32. cmat0829 says:

    Not sure I follow. On days vs. RHP, Walker, Snider and Pedro would be in the lineup, that’s 3 out of 8 lefties. And quite possibly Ishikawa at 1B, so that’s half the lineup hitting leftie.

    I guess you may be asking that Tabata be sent down or cut or Josh Harrison be replaced as sub by Dickerson but to me I definitely go with Tabata to play vs LHPs and I do think Harrison is valuable to back up infield and outfield passably…..

  33. NMR says:

    That’s fair. I guess the obvious follow up is then whether or not stats are the determining factor, or just backup info.

    One thing I find odd in the whole debate is that nobody in the “stats matter” crowd has ever offered any sort of criteria for determining what is actually worthy of a roster spot. None.

    Pretty much gives them carte blanche to say “SEE, PLAYER W GOT CUT AND HIT .XYZ!”. You can create the narrative out of anything.

  34. JoeyBats says:

    Guys……substitute the name Edinson Volquez for Andrew Lambo in this arguement/discussion.

    Stats matter in S.T. ? ;-)

    It’s a complex equation…..stats matter…part of the time depending on the player, time , CONTRACT, situation, career, track record……

  35. cmat0829 says:

    Got your point. I think the bar is very different for different players. And some players in the ‘non-roster’ invite likely have no chance, i.e. NOTHING they can do to earn a roster spot outside of injury to someone else. Someone like Dickerson… he could’ve hit 1.000 and 5 HRs and would rightfully be in Indy as AAA depth.

    It sounds to me like the Pirates (FO and coaching staff) made the decision on Lambo not on stats but on overall observations of his readiness to hit at the major league level. He didn’t exactly tear the cover off the ball last year in Pittsburgh and he hasn’t seemed to adjust to hitting pitcher’s pitches in the Spring. I guess where stats would come in would be, say, if he got a lot of infield hits of bloopers and hit maybe .275 or so in the Spring… and was kept on the roster vs. being sent down. If that were the scenario, then yes, you could say flat out that stats rule all even if they are deceiving. But I see little evidence that this management team blindly relies on stats.

  36. NMR says:

    Absolutely, 100% agreed.

  37. Nate83 says:

    I agree. The one thing everyone is forgetting is Lambo was not supposed to be the solution at first. If he had been he would have been playing first the entire winter ball season. He was only moved there late and didn’t really spend much time playing the position. They absolutely had a Plan A that didn’t work out. They dropped the ball and Lambo became Plan B but I don’t think he was ever handed it. He definitely came in with the best shot of getting it but I was never convinced they thought it was best for his progression to start in the majors this year.

  38. If you stare at all three of those name long enough it becomes Travis Ishawchider.

  39. Andrew says:

    I agree with this, I might be inferring but I see cmat write context and I read scouting. For almost all spring training stats they only matter in hindsight, because there is almost no predictive validity. The samples are so small that performance cannot be separated from noise. In small samples scouting if far better and more important than any numbers. (This does not included pitcher velocity and bat speed.)

    And I like that hypothetical ; if Lambo has 5 more of his balls in play find holes, maybe one down the line but is still rolling over on pitches, his slash line is then comparable to Neil Walker’s. That would be a far better test because the statistics and the scouting differ.

  40. Andrew says:

    Another takeaway from the roster cuts, I think it is perilous to project performance for relief pitchers who do not get many strike outs but having underling good stuff.

    In 2012, Jared Hughes was touching 95 mph and was getting a lot of swing and misses on his breaking stuff however he had K% and BB% and an FIP-ERA gap similar to several of the Pirates relievers last season.

  41. cmat0829 says:

    Stats in isolation, in Spring Training, DO NOT MATTER. Never heard anyone in any position to matter (front office, managers, etc.) cite a spring training STATISTIC to justify a player move. If someone can cite an example of this, please proffer.

    I have heard them say things like “he had a good spring, he made the club” but that doesn’t mean the STATS. Players get significant reps in B games and minor league games, based on weather, rotation, scheduling, travel, etc. and if stats conquered all, they’d keep track of those also and they don’t.

    As to Volquez, yes indeed, his Spring Training STATS mean little nor should they. If he had a good repeatable delivery, good form, good pitch movement and location, and his ERA was 11.50 that would be far better than if he stuggled to locate pitches, struggled to repeat his delivery and his ERA was 2.50. Stats NORMALLY fall in line with the overall picture so it isn’t often something worth debating. If you want to make a point that a player’s READINESS TO PERFORM ON OPENING DAY BASED ON HOW HE LOOKS IN SPRING TRAINING ACTION, BOTH MAJOR LEAGUE GAMES AND PRACTICE AND B GAMES AND MINOR LEAGUE GAMES doesn’t matter because of contract, then go ahead. Wouldn’t disagree that Volquez right now is not the best #5 option, that likely is Gomez or Cumpton…BUT their upside is limited and this team has done pretty well with upside in the recent past, so worth a shot, in my opinion, to see if Volquez can work it out.

  42. cmat0829 says:

    To me, Hughes doesn’t pass the ‘eye test’, or put another way, the ‘blood pressure test’ for a reliever. He obviously has good stuff, but he is erratic on the mound, his pitch location and control are not nearly good enough and he doesn’t seem to have the temperament needed to calmly carry it over to the next inning and pitcher.

  43. cmat0829 says:

    Predictions, please. Do you think by Opening Day…….

    A) Pirates pull the trigger, trade for Mike Carp, and waive Ishikawa.
    B) Pirates pull trigger, but in a different direction, trade for Didi Gregorius and move Barmes to either the Rangers or the Tigers.
    C) Pirates bite the bullet and make a deal to bring Kendrys Morales in for 1B and bench depth.
    D) Pirates surprise all and sign Stephen Drew, dealing Barmes as in scenario B.
    E) Pirates stand pat, cut or deal Mazarro, but otherwise go with this roster.
    F) Coonelly follows up his tone-perfect statement on honoring Kiner with some lame, whiskey-breathed idiotic comment about the TV deal, or payroll, or fan support begetting spending.

    My personal predictions… F, of course, and either A or B. My hope is both A and B, but not sure that is in the cards.

  44. So . . . . are we finally, finally permitted to be critical of Neal Huntington?!?

    1/ When he released Garrett Jones over $$$, we were told “Give him time——it’s early.”
    2/ When he did not extend a Qualifying Offer to AJ, we were told, “Don’t worry——he has a plan.”
    3/ When he made no moves during the Winter Meetings to fill holes in right field and at 1st Base, we were told, “It will happen at the right time. Not every trade must happen in November or December.”
    4/ When he low-balled AJ and implied that no team would pay him as much as QO, it was said, “He knows what he is doing.”
    5/ When he signed Edinson Volquez for Burnett’s rotation spot, we were reminded that Pirates have “the Pitcher Whisperer.”
    6/ When James Loney and Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison and Mitch Moreland and Kendrys Morales were dangled as possibilities, we were constantly reminded that Andrew Lambo hit 33 homeruns last season. Why overpay?
    7/ When the Pirates approached Spring Training with little promise and poor defense at 1st base, we were assured that 1st Base was the easiest position to learn and fill.
    8/ When guys like ME who went to Spring Training and reported firsthand that: a) Lambo’s footwork around 1st was poor; b) his hands were stiff, not soft; and c) Lambo hit more “infield homeruns”——Major League pop-ups——than he hit homeruns over the fence, we were ignored or told to give him time to acclimate.
    9/ Now the truth is that Travis Ishikawa is the answer to the big Neal Huntington 1st Base acquisition!!
    10/ Unless, of course, Neal Huntington makes a PANIC acquisition in the next 3 days.


  45. “In small sample sizes, a good scout is ALWAYS better than stats.”

    He got cut because he sucked this Spring. His batting avg in 42 ABs is merely a reflection of that. Despite being a small and unreliable sample size, in this case it is still accurate. There is no way 4 for 42 can be spun as hitter that is hitting well. Now you can certainly argue that it says nothing about his talent level as a hitter. But the bottom line is this is an unproven player that is struggling at the dish.

  46. NMR says:

    Pass the bong, dudes! ;)

  47. NorthPirateFan says:

    @cmat0829 On those days when a RHP is starting and platoons are being fully utilized, Pedro, Snider and Ishikawa are starting (this situation should represent 80% of the games in a given season) who’s coming off the bench in a critical late game situation to face a RH reliever and it’s not one of those lefties coming to bat? Tabata? Sanchez? Mercer or Barmes?

    The roster as suggested leaves Hurdle with two equally bad options when making out a lineup card against a RH starters.

    1. Use the platoons available in RF and 1B and no LH options coming off the bench if needed, only RH hitters with poor splits.


    2. Start a RH hitter at 1B or RF with a poor record against RHP so you have one LH options off the bench if needed.

  48. Nate83 says:

    I predict E just slightly over A and then in a distant 3rd would be B.

    Although E could be any of 2 or 3 other names being traded.

  49. NorthPirateFan says:

    I’m going to say a prayer, go out on a limb and say G: realize just how badly they’re played the situation and let it get out of hand then make a deal with the Mariners getting Justin Smoak for Tabata, a reliever and a good but not minor league prospect.

  50. NorthPirateFan says:

    Last line should say … good but not great minor league prospect.

  51. Jeff B. says:

    At this point C doesn’t seem all that bad.

  52. Jim S. says:

    Walker is basically a left-handed starter, North.

  53. NMR says:

    Ya know, my brain understands all the points about giving up draft picks, costs, defensive liability, yadda yadda…but just one time I wouldn’t mind them saying F it and just going for it.

    I’m a fan, I’m not supposed to be rational.

  54. Steelkings says:

    Im going to state this a little differently. A small sample size from his 2013 season in Pittsburgh left him with 33 AB’s and a 233 BA and a 33.3% K ratio. Winter ball came and went and Lambo left with93ABs and a 228 BA and another 30% k ratio. And now we are done with Spring Training and Lambo is leaving with with a .095 BA and a 15% k ratio.

    The Pirates needed him to play 1st base. And after a years worth of “meaningless stats”, The Pirates may be finding out that, As NMR would say, Lambo “Cant play baseball”. Im going to go the other way from Travis and say if Lambo struggles in Indy, he wont be a Pirate at seasons end.

  55. Steelkings says:

    He struck out 127 times in the minors in 2013

  56. Jim S. says:

    I think he got cut because they felt what was going on in spring training was going to continue if/when he got to Pittsburgh. Clint said that he was not adjusting to off-speed pitches in fastball counts. In other words, he was guessing. He needs to display an ability to adjust to pitches, and he needs to think his way through at bats better.

    The manifestation of that may have been the .095 average.

  57. pens67 says:

    and the band played on…….

  58. Jim S. says:

    E, A, B are most likely to happen – in that order.

  59. Thundercrack says:

    Jared Hughes looks like he has lost weight and is in good shape.

    Unfortunately he lost some of the sink on his ball…and a little bit of the control he had

  60. NMR says:

    Still tall.

  61. Leo Walter says:

    I was last week NMR,and it was pretty clear ,to me at least that Lambo was struggling mightily. At the same time Ishikawa was squaring it up consistently.

  62. Leo Walter says:

    +++ 1 cma. Well said.

  63. Leo Walter says:

    C = Worst move of them all. Morales doesn’t belong near any NL field.

  64. Leo Walter says:

    Someone please review the Brewers’ bullpen and then explain to me how they might make up 20 games on the Pirates. Compliments to all on the previous discussion I might add.

  65. NMR says:

    Doubt the bullpen will do much, but that Braun guy sure will help.

  66. Travis,

    i wrote a comment around 1:00 PM Tuesday afternoon that is still “in moderation” at 10:00 PM Tuesday night.

    Can you do something about it?

  67. Steelkings says:

    Delete :)

  68. Leo Walter says:

    Braun better be able to do a Bonds impersonation to bail out that bullpen.

  69. NMR says:

    The Pirates will almost certainly help them out in making up some of those 20 games, though. 94 will be tough to repeat.

  70. Steelkings says:

    Let me see if I have the blog conversation today correct:

    Travis is cosmically linked to Travis the first baseman

    NMR says off season stats don’t matter at all
    Many say Off season stats don’t matter depending on who you are.
    A few say off season stats are only meaningful if they are bad depending on who you are.
    I say all stats are a mathematical conundrum. While bad stats don’t equal suck, Suck always equals bad stats.

    Grote is dangling in moderation hell because his name is too long and he mis-spelled it when filling out the name and email portion of the reply box.

    Reclamation Project Lambo didn’t succeed when the BMTIB sprinkled the magic instant star dust on him because they tried to convert him to a first baseman. If the BMTIB would have gotten Loney for that spot, Lambo would have become a full blown super hero.

    Two over and unders on the blog. The first one was the number of people playing first base this season for the Pirates. The 2nd was the number of times Edison Volquez hits the Pirate Parrot with a fastball.

    Cmat makes a bold cafe’ style predictions list. A thru F. He left out G.

    G. The Pirates bring back 52 year old left handed Barry Bonds to play 1st base, with hopes that Jeff Branson can fix his swing.

    “Clint said that he was not adjusting to off-speed pitches in fastball counts. In other words,” HE CANT HIT A BREAKING PITCH and everybody, including the other team, knows it.

  71. I disagree completely with this. A better approach to handling Lambo would have been to assure him, that while the team could still make a trade if they felt it was best, the job was his, and not to worry about spring training. Just relax, see ball and hit it.

    It surprises me that people still believe that there is anything – and I mean any, tiny, little thing, to be gleaned from a sample size of spring training at bats.

    Lambo did not look overmatched in the slightest. He worked counts, and just missed pitches he should have hit. Over a period of time this short, it happens to everyone.

    What I suspect is happening here, based on the fact that they dawdled about bringing up Lambo last year, is that the Pirates simply do not believe in him. If that is the case, I’m ok with it, but they should have had a real Plan B that consisted of more than a hopeless retread who was released by about 29 teams last year.

  72. The difference is that those guys were never considered to be real prospects. What people are forgetting is that Lambo is not a fluke – he was considered to be one of the best prospects in the game when he was with the Dodgers. He has a real pedigree, and what he did last year is simply what those evaluators at the time believed he would eventually do.

    I am not saying that this proves he would be successful at the MLB level, but simply that he deserves a real shot, as opposed to what the Pirates have done with him.

    I love that people are still arguing in favor of Snider, with a huge number of unsuccessful MLB at bats under his belt, but Lambo gets written off because of spring training.

  73. Nate83 says:

    Your point is very valid and I do believe Lambo could still be an impact player in the majors. But I do not agree with the “opposed to what the Pirates have done with him” comment. He showed nothing before last year. He started the year in AA. How quickly do you want the team to move on him. He hasn’t even had the normal amount of at bats in AAA to advance to the majors. He made mistakes and it has delayed his arrival to the majors by 2 or 3 years. That is on him and nobody else in my opinion.

    If he goes down and shows there is nothing more he can learn in AAA he will be right back up in less then 30 games. Nobody is giving up on him. He has things he has to work on. The guy strikes out 30% of his at-bats. Thankfully he walks a fair amount to offset that a little. You can count on one hand the number of guys that strike out that much that get 500 at bats a year in the majors. All of them have a much longer pedigree of hitting for power then Lambo. Lambo is still more likely to turn out like Mark Reynolds then he is Jose Batista or even Pedro.

  74. Nate83 says:

    “he can’t hit a breaking pitch and everybody, including the other team, knows it.”

    That’s a bad trait to have and still be a major league baseball player. I realized when I was 13 I couldn’t hit a breaking ball. I stopped playing the game and stuck to football and basketball.

  75. Steelkings says:

    “”””””A better approach to handling Lambo would have been to assure him, that while the team could still make a trade if they felt it was best, the job was his, and not to worry about spring training. Just relax, see ball and hit it.””””””””

    How Do you know they didn’t?
    Look, as I said in a different comment, Bad stats dont equal suck yet suck definitely produces bad stats. We all know the win / loss total projected for the Pirates. Thats a slim margin for error. Lambo with good ST stats was not going to beat Tabby and Snider out of RF. With a poor “Performance ” in ST Lambo goes to Indy.
    The real question is; If the Pirates trade for a platoon partner for Gabby and Ishikawa is sent down, What do you do with someone? Remember, an active roster is 24 players in AAA. Thats a lot of prospects beginning to stack up.

  76. I agree with your conclusion about Lambo. But Mark Reynolds had a decent major league career, including a 3 win season, despite being a brutal defender. And while Lambo won’t be a star, it is at least within the realm of possibility that he has a better career than Mitch Moreland, Justin Smoak, Ike Davis, and the other warm bodies people are advocating for.

    I just don’t believe that there are any MLB teams, who – if they were in the same situation as the Pirates (needing LH hitting RF and 1B) – would think twice about plugging in a guy who hit 33 home runs at the highest levels of the minor leagues, improving when promoted to AAA, at 24 years of age. With power on the decline, it is a no brainer.

    Let’s find out what we’ve got with Lambo, and if he bombs after half a season, we move on. If this team tanks, this experiment won’t be the cause of it.

  77. Steelkings says:

    Coach Hurdles sentence says a lot to me. It says that breaking pitches are Lambo’s Achilles heal. They came to spring training and said ; “This is what we are working on”. It is why Lambo K’s 1 in every 3 at bats. Pitchers hit the spot with that breaking pitch and it leads to strike outs. And for Coach Hurdle to point that out to the media shows how frustrated the Pirates are with Lambo and his inability to fix it. In AA pitchers dont hit the zone as often with the breaking pitch. You simply let it go by for a ball. But up in the bigs, pitchers throw it very effectively. And that is a problem.

  78. Jim S. says:

    Both Huntington and Hurdle said he was not having quality at bats. For whatever reason, he was not able to adjust to off-speed pitches in fastball counts. To me, that means he may have been simply guessing fastball in counts where his experience told him most minor league pitchers throw fastballs, and not adjusting to off-speed pitches when they were thrown. He was pressing, and it is hard to think clearly and have a plan at the plate when you are pressing.

  79. Nate83 says:

    Milo just said over on the other blog Rosenthal is reporting the Pirates are close to signing Marte to a 6 year extension. It will be interesting to see where the numbers end up being. I’m guessing 6 years 33 million.

  80. Leo Walter says:

    I am not sure who you were watching in Florida, but the Lambo I was watching in 3 games there didn’t come close to having a good AB, though I didn’t see him chase bad pitches.

  81. Leo Walter says:

    I won’t disagree with your estimation that they won’t win 94 games NMR. But I don’t see the Brewers picking up any where near 20 to 25 gmes on the Pirates and Cardinals with their lack of depth and particularly,the awful makeup of their bullpen. I don’t care how much of a prospect Wang is,he hasn’t pitched above the GCL yet,and Duke and Gorzelanny are just what most folks think they are.

  82. Leo Walter says:

    Done deal Nate. $ 31 Mil I hear on MLB XM.

  83. Nate83 says:

    I saw that Leo. Thank.

    That is a really good deal for the Pirates and the young man is now set for life. I’m surprised the Pirates may have gotten 2 team options as well. It will be interesting to see what amount those are. I can’t imagine they are not well over 10 million. I’m going to guess 14 and 17.

  84. RobertoForever says:


    And all of your straw men were shot down in the first week. The problem with the few losses we had could be traced to Cutch too often, not !b or RF, or Volquez

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