Monday, August 31, 2009

Pick the 2010 Opening Day Third Baseman

It's kind of nice to have some options to talk about at different positions going into next season. I will let you decide this one. Who should be the opening day third baseman next season? Will it be this years starter Andy Laroche, local product Neil Walker or last seasons first round draft pick Pedro Alvarez. I will make a case for each and let you decide. I'm curious what everyone thinks.

First, Laroche. No doubt, he has made huge strides from a season ago at this time, when he looked truly awful. he has become a very good defensive third baseman and he has shown glimpses of having a good bat. Laroche's average is down to .248, after flirting in the .280 range for a large part of the season. The power really isn't there either. Only 7HR and 46RBI (leading the team by the way. very sad). He doesn't strike out much (65), but doesn't walk enough either (43). His on base percentage needs to get better (.326), which drawing more walks will help. His slugging percentage is a rather low .371. Too low for playing a position associated with run production. Overall, he handles the bat pretty well though. I'm sure the numbers will get to a consistent .285, 20/75 type of player.

Second, we will look at Walker. He is the popular choice, being the local boy. He is starting to tear the cover off the ball at AAA Indy and surely will get a call up in September sometime. I won't get too into the minor league numbers, but he has his average up to .270 and has 15 HR/69 RBI, despite missing a big portion of the season. The scouting report defensively is that he can handle playing third base at the major league level. I don't know how many at bats he will take from Laroche in September, but I would like to get a look at him and if he does well, he has to be included in the conversation.

Finally, the can't miss Pedro Alvarez. He is the big middle of the order bat this team desperately needs. I've heard he won't come up and hit right away, but I disagree. If he is that talented, he will perform fine. Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria didn't miss a beat when they got their call ups and I don't feel Alvarez will either. He is hitting .330 at Altoona, despite rarely getting pitches to hit. Combined between West Virginia and Altoona he has over 30Hr and 100RBI in his first season of pro ball. He has a little work to do defensively, but I hear he will be fine.

So who will it be? My choice is the unpopular one. I think Laroche starts out the season as the third baseman. Pirates management will stick with him for another season to justify the Bay trade. He has made strides and I think he continues to grow as a ball player. However, I feel the final result is that he will end up only slightly better than brother Adam. If the power comes, he could turn out to be a decent ball player. I think Walker may begin next season as a bench guy and gets a chance to stick around. With Alvarez, I think they won't rush him and will start him at AAA, but by mid-June 2010 he will be hitting cleanup in PNC Park


  1. I vote for Pedro. They are paying him a major league salary, he handles minor league pitching. Start him up here and see what he can do. A big bat in the middle of the order makes everyone else better

  2. I agree it will probably be Alvarez by the all star break next season, but I will agree with Matt and say Andy Laroche. He hasn't done anything wrong this season. In fact he has been a pleasant surprise.

    Hit him 2 behind Mccutchen all season next year and I think the numbers will surprise you. People complain about the lack of power, but he has got decent gap to gap power that i believe will come out.

    His lack of homers also is magnified by the teams lack of power as well

  3. Laroche stinks just like his brother. This is a no brainer. Walker should get the job. He hasn't been given a fair shot by the organization and would be a popular player among the fans.

    His minor league numbers are better than Laroche's major league numbers. Quit holding Neil Walker down. He will show everyone in September

  4. His minor league numbers are better than Laroche's major league numbers

    That is a ridiculous statement.

    He hasn't been given a fair shot by the organization and would be a popular player among the fans

    That is another ridiculous statement.

    First off all, he has had opportunities and during the last couple months is the first time he has produced at the minor league level.

    Second of all, who gives a rats ass how popular he will be because he is a local kid. I want the 9 best guys taking the field every night, not the 9 most popular.

    My vote is for laroche, he has done enough this season to hold onto the job starting next season. However i agree that Alvarez will finish 2010 as the third basemen

  5. Alvarez is ready. Plus he is an impact player, which Laroche and Walker are likely not.

    My vote is Pedro Alvarez

  6. I think Laroche has done an admirable job and should be given a chance to play. Maybe move him to second and platoon with Young, because Delwynn doesn't hit lefties well. Or even see if Walker could make the switch. Either way, all 3 should make the opening day roster, with Laroche and Walker as bench players and suddenly we have a very strong bench also.

    Pedro Alvarez should start at third

  7. I vote for Walker in the short term. You brought up Longoria's name and do you think they do something similar to what Tampa did with him.

    Start him in the minors next year to avoid starting the arbratration clock early. Then when they call him up in June, sign Alvarez to a longer deal, but well short of what he would earn on the open market

  8. Laroche is the guy. You can't punish a guy for showing up to play everyday. He is a gamer and is progressing nicely.

    Everyone just hates him because his last name is Laroche. Unlike his brother Adam, Andy is a gamer and should stay at 3rd

  9. I do like Andy Laroche, but Pedro Alvarez should be the starter next season. i disagree though that all 3 will be around. Andy or Neil has to be dealt, the other is a bench player.

    They won't have 3 guys on the roster that are basically 3rd baseman. Maybe one switches postions, but it's more likely one gets dealt.

  10. andy is doing fine. he should start all season next year. his numbers should improve and if they don't then alvarez will be ready in 2011