First Pitch: The Other Shoe From the Larish Trade

The Pirates acquired 1B/3B Jeff Larish from the Boston Red Sox tonight, which is a curious move on its own. The Pirates will assign Larish to Indianapolis tomorrow, which is a team loaded with 1B/3B options. They’ve got Matt Hague getting every day playing time at third base. Jake Fox is playing at first base. Jeff Clement is serving as the designated hitter.

There’s no room for Larish in Indianapolis, and it doesn’t make much sense to add a 1B/3B bench bat, considering the make-up of the team. That makes me wonder if another shoe will drop from this deal.

The Pirates need offense. Not only do they need offense in the lineup, but they need offense off the bench. Nate McLouth, Josh Harrison, and Yamaico Navarro are all struggling off the bench. Harrison has a .179 average and a .493 OPS. Navarro has a .207 average and a .604 OPS. McLouth has a .205 average and a .552 OPS.

At the start of the year it made sense to keep Harrison and Navarro on the roster, as Pedro Alvarez was serving in a sort of platoon. Now that Alvarez is getting regular playing time there’s not much of a need for guys like Harrison or Navarro to get playing time on the field. They’re pretty much limited to pinch hitting roles and spot starts, making their bats more important, and their defense less important.

Now that the Pirates are looking more for hitting off the bench, with less of a priority on defense, there’s no need for both Harrison and Navarro. It would make more sense to bring up someone like Matt Hague or Jake Fox. Both players have good bats and can hit for some power, with Fox having the advantage in that department.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the other shoe dropping, with Fox or Hague getting the call to the majors. It doesn’t make sense to add Larish when you’ve got Hague, Fox, and Clement, unless one of those players will make the jump to the majors. It also doesn’t make sense to have both Yamaico Navarro and Josh Harrison in the majors considering the needs of the team. What does make sense is bringing up Hague or Fox, sending Harrison down, and adding Jeff Larish to replace whoever got the call from Triple-A.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates lost 1-0 to the Astros. Game story here.

**Pirates Acquire Jeff Larish.

**Prospect Watch: Gift Ngoepe hits his fourth homer of the year.

**Pirates Notebook: Alex Presley is working to regain last season’s swing.

**The Pitch F/X preview of the Houston Astros probable starters.

About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • Benjamin P. Glaser

    Harrison makes the most sense, especially with his baserunning gaffe. Navarro gives the most position flexibility.

    • Richard Ya’Zhynka

      I agree. I’d keep Navarro in Pittsburgh.

      • sstauffer5

        Come on. This is moving deck chairs on the Titanic. The real problem is Huntington and his staff have no feel for offensive talent at the minor or major league level. Barajas, Barmes, McLouth, Overbay…what a waste of money…disaster. Little real offensive help in the system. We need to move some minor league pitching for some real help. if not now, when?

  • Richard Ya’Zhynka

    Fox was not in the lineup for Indianapolis tonight. I hope he is on his way to Pittsburgh.

  • sstauffer5

    And, most of the hitters that have been at the ML level for more than one year seem to be getting worse (Tabata, Presley, Walker, Alvarez, etc). So little power; so many strikeouts. Could it be that the Hurdle/Ritchie hitting philosophy isn’t working???

    • szielinski

      The Pirates seemingly cannot develop hitters.

  • REM

    The team sucks on offense and you are criticizing the bench? Give me a break. How about this novel approach…Cut McClouth, bench Barmes, play Navarro every day at shortstop, reduce Barajas playing to 3 days a week, and lastly fire Huntingdon.

    • Tim Williams

      I’m just pointing out what I think they are doing, and why it makes sense. I’m not saying that will solve their problems.

      • REM

        I’m just frustrated. This organization doesn’t want to win. Their actions clearly show that.

  • leadoff

    If it were me, two moves would happen in about a weeks time.
    First, I would send Harrison back and bring up Fox now because Fox can be an effective bench player and Harrison has to play more, young guys have a tough time when they don’t play a lot.
    2nd, I would start Marte now in left field at Indy, let him play about a week to get his timing back and bring him up, send Presley down, Presley has clearly lost his confidence and has become far to tentative. From what I can see they could use a starting left fielder and Marte is probably the best choice in the organization. I would not be giving up on Presley just because I would be sending him back, lots of players need to go back once in a while.
    Remember the Nats wanted to trade for Marte during ST and they wanted to keep Harper in the minors at AAA, shows you what they thought of Marte.

    • szielinski

      Marte has yet to master AAA pitching. He’s unlikely to fare better facing ML pitchers.