COMMENTARY | Fans have spent the last month or so clamoring for it, and they finally got it Aug. 13 when prospect Andrew Lambo got his first call to the majors.
It's obviously impossible to predict just how the move will affect the team going down the stretch, but suffice to say that it can't get a whole lot worse in right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The concoction of players who've already manned right field for the Bucs this season have hit for a combined .231 batting average, the second-worst in baseball from that position.
It's clear to see the team needed help, but is Lambo the guy for the job, especially in the midst of the first pennant chase Pittsburgh has seen in 20 years? The 25-year-old lefty has power that can't be overlooked; his 31 home runs in 117 games split between Double-A and Triple-A led all of minor league baseball before his call-up. He hit for a .284 average with 97 runs batted in, which is consistent with his career minor league batting average of .277 in 669 career games.
But therein lays the issue. Lambo hasn't once stepped to the plate in the majors and has toiled in the minors for the better part of seven seasons. That's not to mention that he missed most of last year with an injury and got suspended for 50 games in 2010 after testing positive for a "drug of abuse." It wasn't long after that the Pirates acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a trade that sent closer Octavio Dotel to the West Coast and also brought in James McDonald.
As of now, it seems that the opportunity for consistent playing time in right field is wide open, so Lambo should certainly get his cracks at helping this team down the stretch. For such a poor offensive team, any help or reinforcements, especially at the start of another pivotal series against St. Louis, is welcomed and needed.
But it's important to remember that Lambo has been crushing home runs off of pitchers with names like Yohan Pino and Ryan Dennick, not names like Adam Wainwright or Clayton Kershaw. It will be interesting to see if he can adjust to major league pitching after so many years toiling below deck.
The fact remains that Pittsburgh's 108 home runs this year rank as 20th in baseball. It surely will be nice to look down the lineup card and see a legitimate power threat lurking whose name isn't Pedro Alvarez. He might strike out a lot, and he might not take many walks. But Andrew Lambo has certainly earned this chance to make his mark in the majors.
And according to his Twitter account, Lambo is well aware that his time has arrived: "Take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to you. Don't hold anything back…"
Let's hope he heeds his own advice.
Jared Stonesifer has covered the Pittsburgh Pirates for MLB.com on a freelance basis since 2010. He lives in Pittsburgh.
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