Life After Littlefield: Pirates 2012 Recap: First Base


Jarrod Blumer, Contributor

Before I review anymore of the Pirates’ 2012 season I wanted to apologize for the long break since my last post.  My first semester of college started to catch up to me.  However, lets get back to our beloved Buccos and continue the position-by-position recap with first base.  The majority of 2012 had Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones, and Gaby Sanchez manning first base, with a few spot starts made by Matt Hague and Jeff Clement.

We’ll start with McGehee, who was acquired in the offseason to supply some punch in the middle of the lineup.  McGehee struggled for most of the year providing pop for the team’s offense as he had only 8 HR and 35 RBI in 92 games with Pittsburgh before he was dealt at the deadline to the New York Yankees for Chad Qualls.  While he played superb defense last year, McGehee really hurt the Pirates more than he helped them because of his lack of production in the batters box.  Luckily for Pittsburgh, they had a few other options at the position.

Next is Garrett Jones.  Jones preformed the best out of the main trio of first basemen with a slash line of .274/.317/.516, while smashing 27 HR and driving in 86 runs.  Granted Jones wasn’t a full-time first baseman and spent the majority of his time in right field, he still was a viable option for manager Clint Hurdle in 2012 and will be one once again in 2013.  Unless Jones is traded this offseason, as many rumors have been swirling about in the past week at the Winter Meetings in Nashville.  This is an interesting idea, as Jones’ trade value will most likely never be higher and could possibly land Pittsburgh a reliable starting pitcher or a mid-to-top-level pitching prospect.  Another reason to move Jones is that he will most likely make around $5 million in 2013 and the Pirates could use that money in other needed areas as they have Gaby Sanchez, who could replace Jones at first.

Which brings us to Sanchez, who was acquired by General Manager Neal Huntington at the trade deadline this past year from the Miami Marlins for outfield prospect Gorkys Hernandez and the Pirates competitive-balance pick in the 2013 draft.  A former NL All-Star in 2011 and a fourth place finisher in the 2010 Rookie of the Year, Sanchez gives the Pirates a potential power bat, 19 HR in 2010 and 2011, that could man first base for the next several years.  However, after a rough 2012 statistically with a line of .217/.279/.341, Sanchez isn’t going to be handed the job out of Spring Training in 2013 and will have to show Hurdle he can produce in the big leagues.

This leaves Pittsburgh with a decent Jones/Sanchez platoon situation in 2013, barring a Jones deal this offseason.  Best-case scenario in my opinion is the Pirates deal Jones for a solid pitching prospect and use that money, along with whatever else owner Bob Nutting is willing to spend, and call up either Kevin Youkilis or Nick Swisher to patrol first base in 2013.