For much of the summer, there's been a slowly growing call for Andrew Lambo's promotion to Pittsburgh. Lambo's been hot all year and his promotion from Altoona to Indianapolis in early June did nothing to slow him down. He's hit for great power with 28 home runs between the two levels this year and he's mauled right-handed pitching, which are two things that the Pirates' right fielders have been unable to do since Travis Snider cooled off (possibly due to his toe injury) sometime in mid-May.
With the Pirates failing to make a trade for a bat before Wednesday's trade deadline, the calls for Lambo have increased to a dull roar. The Pirates' right field options are now awfully limited. Snider's injury is a bit of an unknown and his ability to produce when healthy is in question. Jose Tabata is a nice fourth outfielder, but not productive enough to play every day in right. Alex Presley struggles to get on base, though he's shown at least a little bit of pop in his time in the Majors. Presley and Tabata probably wouldn't be terrible as a platoon, but they probably wouldn't be all that good, either. They've got questionable defensive value in right, too, since Tabata's a below-average outfielder and Presley has a weak arm. The only trade option that's certain to pass through waivers is Alex Rios, who the Pirates apparently cooled quite a bit on before the deadline.
That leaves Lambo, who's hitting .274/.340/.581 to go with those 14 homers in his 49 games with Indianapolis. For the season it's a .283/.346/.569 line. The 28 homers are nice, but it's also worth pointing out that Lambo's striking out a lot (25.9% of plate appearances with Indy) and he's not drawing a ton of walks (9.0% with Indy). His performance in Double-A this year came five full years after his initial promotion to the level; he played eight games with Double-A Jacksonville in the Dodgers' system as a 19-year old in 2008. After their 2010 trade for him, the Pirates tried Lambo in Triple-A in 2011 with ugly results, then he missed much of 2012 with a hamate injury (which is apparently practicaly a pre-req for Pirates' minor leaguers).
The reason that story is important is because it actually reminds me a whole lot of Alex Presley. Presley spent two years at High-A Lynchburg doing absolutely nothing at the plate, then suddenly in 2010 (at 24, the same age Lambo is now) he started crushing the ball with Altoona and Indianapolis, which earned him a September call-up. When he got off to a hot start with Indy again in 2011, he earned longer looks with the Bucs both in 2011 and 2012. The comparison isn't perfect (Lambo was a high school draftee and a good prospect that flew through the low minors and got stuck in Double-A, Presley was a college draftee that looked like a complete non-prospect for two years; plus, Lambo has more power than Presley).
I'm not trying to get negative on Lambo's season here: it's awfully encouraging to have a guy that's only 24 years hitting 14 homers in 49 games at Triple-A. There's nothing wrong with that at all, especially when it seemed like Lambo was a busted prospect four months ago. There certainly might be something there and it's worth considering finding out before Gregory Polanco hits is way to Pittsburgh. My concern is that the heat of a pennant race isn't necessarily the best time to find out if a fringe prospect with a low walk rate and a high strikeout rate can pick up the large end of a big league platoon, a year after he was mired in Double-A at the age of 23. That's not to say it's not worth a shot, just that I don't think that calling Lambo up right now is necessarily an obvious decision that has to be made, nor is it something that's a slam dunk to work if it does happen.
The Pirates will wait until he's ice cold. Then they'll bring him up, he'll suck and the Pirates will act as if they were right all along. I don't care what level you are at, if you have 31 HR, you obviously have some bit of power at the plate. As for fielding, PNC Park would be an adjustment in RF, but you have to play in parks you aren't familiar with all the time. I don't hear an excuse from our right fielders in San Fran because adjusting to the dimensions there are too difficult. Come on now, give the dude a shot while he's hot. Can he really be any worse than the Presley/Tabata platoon we have now?
" I am skeptical about his ability to help much in Pittsburgh " If that isn't an opinion,what would you call it ? Is it hard to understand ? Does it look like it is written in Farsi ? I don't know what else to tell you,except maybe a few classes in reading comprehension might help you out.
@lee1943 dude you are awfully thin skinned. don't write articles if you aren't open to comments that are critical or disagree with you.
as far as Lambo himself, i disagree with you. I think he could help the Pirates even though i haven't seen him play in person like you have. his statistics are better than any recent pirate we've called up that I can recall.
we'll agree to disagree.
way to ride the fence guy. the guy deserves a shot and he plays the position we are weakest at. Bring him up! geez
Diehard : I hope you aren't talking to me,If you are,let me ask you this : have you ever even seen the man play one game in the Minors ? If not,you ought to keep your opinion of me to yourself. I have been watching him play AA ball since he came into the Pirates orginization,and have a pretty good idea of wht he might do as a MLB rookie in the middle of a Divisional pennant race.
@lee1943 your article asks for an opinion so i gave one. you should give one too. your article i wishy washy maybe you should state an opinion one way or the other. don't be so thin skinned sir
As someone who watched and pulled for Lambo his entire time in Altoona, I am skeptical about his ability to help much in Pittsburgh. It took him over 1200 AA ABs to really come around offensively,and his defense would be pretty sketchy in RF at PNC. Putting him in the middle of a pennant race with no ML experience would appear to me to be a real desperation move.
I wouldn't have a problem with bringing Lambo up as a "we've-thrown-everything-else-against-the-wall-so-maybe-this-will-stick" option, and at his age it's at least possible this is real improvement as opposed to a Steve Pearce-esque fluke. I would also be OK with picking up Rios on a waiver claim; he's due a pretty good chunk of change, though his contract isn't a Soriano-like albatross, and if he put up three wins or so between now and the end of next season, that wouldn't be bad value--not to mention it would likely outstrip what we could expect from our internal options.