Jul 26, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez (14) tosses his bat after being called out on strikes during the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Do Bucs Really Need A First Baseman?

With pitchers and catchers set to report to Bradenton in under 48 hours, there is still one thing driving Pittsburgh Pirates fans crazy – the need for an upgrade at first base.

While an acquisition of a first baseman would be nice and it is something that general manager Neal Huntington is still working on, I have to ask the question of whether an addition is needed in order for the Pirates to compete in 2014.

Aug 17, 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

That answer is no. The Bucs will be just fine.

Just keep this in mind. The Pirates won 94 games last season with the likes of Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez platooning at the position for most of the 2013 season.

That is the same Jones that hit .233 last season. The same Jones that hit only 10 homers through the month of July prompting for the Bucs to eventually acquire Justin Morneau. The same Jones who had an OBP of only .289, an OPS of only.708 and a WAR of a mere 0.1 and the Bucs managed to make the playoffs.

It will be nice if Huntington can add to the Pirates lineup but it isn’t a necessity and the team will be competitive if he fails to do so.

Sanchez will be just fine and could be the key to the Pirates lineup this season.

While he played primarily against left-handed pitching a season ago and performed very well doing so, he could see an increased role in 2014.

That’s not the best scenario in the world, but it’s not any worse scenario than the team had at the position last year. While Sanchez is not the typical first baseman in terms of a power bat, his .361 on-base percentage last season would have ranked 14th in the National League if he had enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.

One thing the Pirates lineup needs is guys to get on base more often. Sure Sanchez’s splits aren’t very good against right-handers, but given more at bats he could surprise. Jones didn’t offer a very good option against RHP and the Bucs managed to get by just fine.

This team is and will be in the future, built on pitching and homegrown talent. The Bucs can’t go out and acquire major free agents to fill voids, not that there were many upgrades to be had on the open market this year anyway.

That brings me to Andrew Lambo, who as I noted in the past could form the other half of an above-average platoon.

With the marginal talent out there to be had, I would much rather at least see the Pirates give a homegrown prospect like Lambo a shot to start the season than give up assets for an average player.

Then Huntington can get a good look at Lambo and address the need during the season, similar to what he did last season with the acquisition of Morneau. There will be better options during the season to be acquired than there are right now.

But the Bucs will continue to search for a first baseman to start against right-handers, Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review writes. They might not acquire him until the end of spring training, when teams might be more motivated to make trades as they try to set their rosters.

I am fine with that as long as it is a good fit. If it isn’t, I’m also fine entering the 2014 season with what the Pirates currently have.

A move would be nice, but it isn’t a necessity. The Pirates aren’t any worse at the position than they were a season ago and they came out of it just fine.

Tags: Andrew Lambo Gaby Sanchez Garrett Jones Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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