February 17, 2010

40 Man – Around The Corners

The options at 1st base are somewhat limited.  Steve Pearce had a chance last season to show he was capable of being an everyday MLB 1B, unfortunately his bat has yet to show above AAA.  His career BA is .237 in 378 PA’s with 8 HR’s. 

The next option is Jeff Clement, a converting catcher.  He has some experience, 28 games, playing 1B in the minors.  Hardly enough to consider him a seasoned player.  At the MLB level, he is a career .237 hitter with a limited sample size of 243 AB’s with 7 HR’s.

Comparing Pearce and Clement is like comparing two peas from the same pod.  Both have limited MLB at bats batting .237.  The HR numbers are very similar as well.  The only real difference?  Pearce has much more experience through the minors as a 1B.

Which leads me to who I am picking to start the season at 1B, not a shocker at all.  Garrett Jones and his .276 BA with 23 career home runs.  I want to emphasize start the season.

This all leads to my pick for breakout player in 2010.  Andy LaRoche.  LaRoche closed out 2009 seemingly finding his stroke batting .313 with 5 HR’s and 8 doubles in the last month plus of the season.  Add in the fact he played a solid third base in the field, and he is the easy pick for third to start the season.

With Pedro Alvarez only months away from a likely call up, it would be easy to say LaRoche’s time is limited as a starting 3B for the Pirates.  I have a feeling that may be a bit premature for most to think.

While Alvarez has owned the minors in his first professional season, his defense has reportedly been better than expected but not quite as good as what LaRoche has done since having a chance to be the everyday 3B in the Majors.  Remember, 2009 was the first season LaRoche had the chance to play everyday.
I am also predicting LaRoche will have a strong enough start to the season, Pedro Alvarez will be playing some 1B during his time in AAA Indianapolis.

Back to First
By the time June comes around, expect Pedro Alvarez to make his MLB debut not at third, but on the other side of the diamond.  Garrett Jones will be moved back into RF. (More on that in my next post)

Many scouts believe Alvarez’s future is at 1B because of his size.  Over the winter he has trimmed down and added more muscle to an already powerful build.  Alvarez has been scouted as having good hands and range for his size, a scouting term that always seems to be more of a slap than a compliment.

Backing Out
There are a few ways Alvarez takes the 3B job, but that would involve LaRoche completely tanking to start the season.  Not that we have ever seen a LaRoche sleep walk through the first few months of a season.  But that was his brother, not Andy.

The other way Alvarez owns 3B is a mid-season trade of Iwamura and Andy LaRoche moving over to 2B.  I find this harder to believe, due to LaRoche have very limited time at the position in his baseball career.  Second base is not an easy position to learn, Freddy Sanchez made the jump from third a couple seasons ago, but Freddy was also a shortstop most of his Minor League career.

At The End
By the end of the season:
LaRoche will still be at 3B
Alvarez will be manning 1B
Garrett Jones will be playing RF
At least, those are my predictions.

Leave some comments below on your thoughts.  Hopefully I didn’t screw up any names this time around…Mike Lincoln, what was I thinking?

Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Sweet 16
Sean, from Sean’s Ramblings,  is running the 2nd Annual Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament which is now in the Sweet 16.  BTW is matched against Raise The Jolly Roger in the “Battle of the Skulls” in the Ironhead division. 

I wish Brian the best of luck, hopefully he will come up just short as BTW’s Cinderella runs continues.  Either way, a Pirates blog will make the Elite 8.

Please vote BTW, but also vote for the other Pirates blogs.  The polls will be closing Wednesday night at 7:00 PM.

Also, thanks to everyone who voted in the first round and those who have voted so far in the second round.  Pass the word to vote for BTW.

Once again, for the 4th year,  I am walking in the MDA Stride and Ride event scheduled for February 27th.   I am looking for sponsors.  If you can find it in you heart to donate a little, it does not have to be much as every dollar helps, it would be greatly appreciated.  Please sponsor me in this worthwhile cause.

You can donate online at my MDA page that can be found here:
Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.
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