The case against — and for — a Morales-Pirates union
One of the first players linked this offseason to the Pirates’ need for a lefty-hitting first baseman — Kendrys Morales — remains in play. However, the Bucs still view him as a back-burner option, for the same reason other National League clubs shy away — his reduced ability to play the field since the freakish high left-ankle injury that cost him a season-and-a-half.
In the two seasons since returning from that mid-2010 injury, Morales has played 59 games at first base — and 214 as the DH.
Morales, 30, also would be a poor candidate to platoon with Gaby Sanchez, a southpaw killer the Pirates fully expect to keep in the picture. Not only is Morales a switch-hitter, but his splits are relatively even (when adjusting for the fact he gets to swing far more from the left side against righties than the other way around).
Perhaps that is one way GM Neal Huntington could justify giving Morales a Garrett Jones-sized deal: He’d be kept busy enough; in 2013, the Pirates saw more than four times as many right-handed starters (131) as lefties (31).
Something else worth bearing in mind: Unless the Cardinals’ Jamie Garcia recovers from a sprained shoulder or Tony Cingrani comes out of the Reds’ bullpen to join their rotation, neither of the Bucs’ NL Central competitors will have a left-handed starter.
Morales would also set up the Pirates better for their 10 Interleague Games in AL parks: The six players rotated in the DH spot last season hit a combined .171 — without a home run and ONE RBI in 41 at-bats.
– Tom Singer