Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable – Andy LaRoche’s future

The Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable is back after a one month hiatus. Thank you to all of the authors that have contributed to this post. To read more of their work, please click on the link next to each name. If you would like to submit a question to our panel, please e-mail me here.
(Note: The majority of these responses were written before the Pirates and Pedro Alvarez worked out a new deal.)
Question:
After seeing Andy LaRoche struggle as a Pirate, do you see him as a legitimate long-term option at third base? Why or why not?

Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters
When the Pirates were making all of their trades in around the end of the trading deadline, I remember cringing when they acquired Andy LaRoche. I have never been much of a fan of him and thought most of the expectations about him were more hype than anything.
Going into it, I was and still am not sold on Andy LaRoche, due to the fact that I was never enamored with him as a prospect.
So putting my bias out there about him, I will say that he is probably our at least mid term option at third. It seems as though Neil Walker may not be ready to play third in the majors anytime soon. Our other “option” Pedro Alvarez is sort of MIA.
So by default it appears that Andy LaRoche is going to be our third baseman. That seems to be the same story with his brother Adam, who seems to be set as our first baseman by default. Like it or not, I feel that we will have LaRoche at the corners for a few more seasons.
Randy Linville from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
I don’t think a 50 to 60 game snapshot is enough for a 24 year old with his minor league numbers. Plenty of clubs have given up on players too soon, including the Pirates with Brian Harper back in the 1980s (who would’ve been much more valuable than George Hendrick in 1985). I say based on his minor league numbers and the fact that this team won’t compete (again) in 2009, he deserves a chance to be the regular next year. Give him at least a half-season. If things aren’t looking up, pull the plug and move on.
Brian McElhinny from Raise the Jolly Roger!
Yes, I do. I know everyone is livid seeing him struggle right now, but it’s been ONE MONTH. The guy has a proven track record in the minors and there is no reason to believe he will not adjust. LaRoche has been described as a patient guy with a good idea of the strike zone, and so far he has looked the opposite. To me, that means he just hasn’t adjusted to NL pitching yet but hopefully that will change. If he has another awful year, then it’s time to worry.
Besides, what are the other options? Pedro Alvarez is a far cry from a sure thing, and Neil Walker is not getting it done.
Matt Bandi from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
LaRoche definitely still has a future as the Pirates’ third baseman. We simply cannot discard several years of consistent minor league production because he has struggled badly in a couple hundred at-bats in the big leagues. Even through his struggles, he has continued to draw a decent amount of walks (9.7% BB% combined with Pirates and Dodgers in 2008), demonstrating that he is not necessarily as lost at the plate as he looks.
LaRoche is simply pressing right now, and I think the offseason is just what he needs. He needs some time to regroup, so that he can come to spring training in a relaxed state of mind. I am very optimistic that he could have a breakout type season in 2009.

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8 Responses to “Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable – Andy LaRoche’s future”

  1. Andrew Giachetti Says:

    Let’s face reality. Andy LaRoche isn’t going to attain any kind of success as a major leaguer. Brandon Moss isn’t going to attain any kind of success as a major leaguer. Hansen looks like he’s going to be embarassingly bad. Should I go on? Good Pittsburgh Pirate players were traded for other teams’ trash. And the GM is beoing called “brilliant’ by clueless members of the media. Sheesh! The Pirates will be the laughingstock of both leagues for many years to come.

  2. Philly Jake Says:

    I am not sold on Andy yet, but to write him off at this stage is silly. He has a whirlwind year, and he’s only 24.
    He should get every opportunity to show what he can do next year.
    Having said that, if Walker is pushing him, let Walker get the job.

  3. Joe Nader Says:

    I love people who believe themselves to be experts and are already righting off the trades we made less than two months ago. At the time of the trades, almost every possible publication really liked the trades from the Pirates side.
    This analysis was coming from experts who get paid big money by big time sports networks to analyze, so I do not think two months is enough time analyze these trades and call them a disaster.
    I love how people who are so negative think they know at all. At this time next season if the players acquired have not improved, you can say I told you so, but there is no way you can pass judgement on these trades one way or another yet and consider it “reality”

  4. Eddie Says:

    Its too early to tell on these trades. I believe the front office did a great job to get talent back in both trades. Andy will be fine, I actually see him moving to 2B when Alvarez is ready. I really like Brandon Moss, I think he will hit 30 HRs for the Pirates if he plays a full season next year.

  5. gerard smith Says:

    Wow! Are Andrew, Joe, and Eddie the only three who commented so far? Talk about a democratic process, there’s something here for everybody—take your pick. Most will probably side with middle-of-the-roader Joe who says give ’em a year before you throw that baby out. Are there really, I mean r-e-a-l-l-y any other options? Is Castillo still available?

  6. Andy Thompson Says:

    I think Moss has potential. Clearly the LaRoche Family have coping issues; Adam can’t cope in April, May or June, and Andy has issues in any summer month. I’m hoping Tabata is great, and I think Karstens will mature. I really liked the trades to start with; we just need 2-3 players to produce to make it worthwhile. I’d give Andy the winter to work things out and give him the month of April to prove himself (same goes for his brother). It’s just too depressing to watch these guys fail for months at a time. I have to say I miss having an offense that can produce consistently…the Bucs seem so impotent when they can’t score and the pitching remains unreliable.

  7. David Gross Says:

    My wife and I have nicknames for the LaRoche brothers: Big LaBum and Litttle LaBum. Pirates need to give up on both now and cut their losses. They have options at first, and can acquire a mid range 3rd baseman no worse and probably better than what they have now.

  8. jesse Says:

    what does mcelhinny mean about NL pitching? i am 80% sure the dodgers are in the NL.


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