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.)
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.