Pittsburgh Pirates Should Go With Andrew Lambo At First Base To Start 2014

As we sit about a month and a half from pitchers and catchers reporting, the Pittsburgh Pirates still have a major hole to fill: a left-handed hitting first baseman.

However while marginal names like Ike Davis continue to be floated out there, the Bucs may be best to fill the position in house with Andrew Lambo.

A natural outfielder, Lambo started to get a look at first base during winter ball and should get a long look at the position during spring training.

Aug 16, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Andrew Lambo (57) at the batting cage before playing the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After a year in which he posted a .282/.347/.574 line, leading minor-league players with 32 home runs while putting up a .922 OPS, he should be the guy the Bucs turn to, at least initially.

By all account Lambo has the bat to produce at the MLB level and his minor league season clearly out produced the trio of Garrett Jones, Gaby Sanchez and Justin Morneau from a season ago.

If Lambo can get acclimated to fielding the position he makes a ton of sense. He has played 41 games in the minors at first so it is something that should be somewhat familiar to him.

He got only 33 plate appearances last season with the big club and hit .233/.303/.400 with one home run in a small sample size.

I do worry about his high strikeout rate, but Lambo is the Bucs’ best option right now.

I would rather reward a guy in-house who put up good numbers in the minors than give up anything for a guy like Davis or some other, who will offer nothing more than a Jones-like impact at best.

There are other plusses with starting the season with Lambo at first base rather than taking a shot on another guy.

If things don’t work out, the Pirates have the resources to acquire a better option during the season.

Quite simply, the market might be better in June or July than it is right now. There is simply nothing available right now that will help this team.

Then there is the fact that a platoon with Sanchez just may work out nicely. Clint Hurdle will be able to keep Lambo away from tough lefties and given enough at bats, Lambo’s power could come to play nicely at PNC Park.

Given the options available, Lambo is currently the best one.

It’s worth noting that he is expected to compete for the right field job in spring training, but being able to play first base could give Lambo an edge in making the team.

Even if he wins the right field job and the Pirates have to look elsewhere for an upgrade at first base, I would expect Lambo to switch positions anyway when Gregory Polanco is deemed ready to come up.

The idea of Lambo starting the season at first base may not be a popular decision among Pirates fans.

But right now he is the best option and a Sanchez-Lambo platoon could become a reality before you know it.


Topics: Andrew Lambo, Pittsburgh Pirates

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  • Tj Streib

    Lambo looked lost in right field after his callup, so I would much rather see him tried at first. If his defense is a little shaky, you’d have Gaby as a late-inning replacement. Totally agree with starting the season with that combo. We need a big bat to complement Cutch & Pedro & those don’t come cheap (as we have seen this offseason). Lambo can certainly provide some pop & is the best option

    • Matt Shetler

      Makes almost too much sense. We will see if they take that route. Honestly I don’t see a way they can’t right now

  • Frank Micko

    Given his OPS vs both LHP and RHP, there’s no reason to platoon him. He should play everyday.

    • Matt Shetler

      I agree. Still like what Gaby does vs. LHP, but I definitely feel he should get a lot of AB’s to start the season

      • Tj Streib

        Wouldn’t hurt to ease him in as a platoon, ’cause you can always make him a full-timer if he earns it. We just need to answer the “is he ready?” question first

  • Robert Greene

    I agree. Would have preferred Loney or someone else but internally he is our best option.

  • Mike Conner

    Dead on with “reward a guy in-house rather than give up a lot”; I got to watch this guy extensively with the Altoona Curve- yeah, I know it’s just AA, but isn’t that why we have minor leagues?