The Pirates announced that they have designated first baseman Ike Davis for assignment. Catcher Ramon Cabrera was also eschewed.
Davis joined the Pirates in mid-April in the trade that sent minor leaguers Zack Thornton and Blake Taylor to the Mets. In Pittsburgh, he handled right-handers while Gaby Sanchez handled lefties. Though Davis did a decent job getting on base, he neither hit for average nor power, posting a .235/.343/.378 slash line with 10 home runs and 46 RBI in 397 plate appearances.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s tilt:
1. Gregor Blanco CF
2. Joe Panik 2B
3. Buster Posey C
4. Pablo Sandoval 3B
5. Hunter Pence RF
6. Brandon Belt 1B
7. Brandon Crawford SS
8. Travis Ishikawa LF
9. Madison Bumgarner LHP
Not any surprises here. Crawford and Ishikawa have been flip-flopped in the past, but who cares?
1. Josh Harrison 3B
2. Jordy Mercer SS
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Russell Martin C
5. Starling Marte LF
6. Neil Walker 2B
7. Gaby Sanchez 1B
8. Travis Snider RF
9. Edinson Volquez P
Gaby Sanchez gets the start over Ike Davis because of the lefty Bumgarner on the mound. Travis Snider is a lefty, but this season he’s actually had a reverse platoon split. Let’s chalk that up to solar flairs or something. Starling Marte has hit lefties well this year so he’s pretty key tonight.
Here’s hoping we get a matchup as fun as last night’s.
After 584 games in the majors, Pedro Alvarez is going to try something new. According to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he’ll make his first career start at first base this evening against the Braves.
Alvarez recently lost his starting third base job after committing 25 errors, most of them from his throwing. He began taking grounders at first base last weekend in preparation for a move across the diamond and will now get his first test in game action.
Gaby Sanchez still figures to get most of the at-bats against southpaws at first base, but Alvarez’s move to first will likely cut into Ike Davis’ playing time, though one could argue that it’s not deserved. While he hasn’t shown as much power, Davis has a higher OPS (.726) than Alvarez (.706) this season and has outproduced him against right-handers, as well.
Pedro Alvarez’s 24th error of the year didn’t cost the Pirates in Saturday’s 8-3 win over the Diamondbacks, but one wonders if it might have been the final straw. After the game, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review beat writer Rob Biertempfel quoted Pirates GM Neal Huntington saying that all options are open right now and that “everything will be taken into consideration.” Biertempfel added that he’ll be very surprised if a roster move isn’t made in an effort to give more stability at third base.
Alvarez was never a particularly strong fielder anyway, but his throwing problems have never been this bad they’re the cause of him leading the majors in errors (no one else has more than 18). He’s also been a disappointment offensively, with a modest 15 homers and .402 slugging percentage this year, though his OBP is up to .322 at least (he had a .296 OBP while hitting 36 homers and driving in 100 runs last year).
The Pirates declined to move Alvarez to first base last winter, even though they had no luck trying to replace Justin Morneau in free agency or through a trade; they opened the season with Gaby Sanchez at first and later traded for Ike Davis. Having Alvarez replace Davis now is a possibility, but it wouldn’t necessarily make the team any better. Alvarez is currently hitting .247/.338/.434 with 37 RBI in 279 AB against righties, compared to .250/.365/.390 with 33 RBI in 236 AB for Davis. And Alvarez probably would be a downgrade defensively, at least initially. Neither should be playing against left-handers.
What is a given is that the Pirates are best off with Josh Harrison at third base right now. Harrison’s .330/.341/.498 line is almost certainly a fluke, but he’s so much better defensively than Alvarez that he doesn’t have to hit like that to remain an upgrade. The Pirates, though, like to use Harrison at other positions as well, so they may look to add another third base option rather than commit to Harrison there. They also have former White Sox prospect Brent Morel up, but he seems unlikely to stick after hitting a subpar .246/.318/.342 in Triple-A. He’s 3-for-16 so far in the majors.
UPDATE: The roster move has come, though it’s probably not quite what Pirates fans were looking for: Jayson Nix was signed to a one-year deal and Morel was sent back down to Triple-A. Nix had just been let go by Tampa Bay after hitting .274/.341/.411 in 190 at-bats for Triple-A Durham.
There’s increasing evidence that Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton is not of this world. For instance, watch this ridiculous play last night against the Pirates.
Hamilton dropped down a bunt to lead of the bottom of the first inning. It looked like an easy play for first baseman Gaby Sanchez, but Hamilton somehow managed to wiggle around the tag and dive head-first into first base for a single. Watch it. I promise you’ll like it.
Amazing stuff. You could almost say that he became unstuck in time. Hamilton went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored last night and is batting .285/.318/.424 with 29 extra-base hits (including five home runs) and 37 stolen bases over 88 games this season. He’s been a .300 hitter since mid-April and has played excellent defense in center field. The 23-year-old speedster has quickly become one of exciting players in the game.