Dave Littlefield, former GM of the pitiful Pirates, is widely held responsible for the woe that is currently the Pirates. Rajai Davis to the Giants for Matt(I’ll make you forget the overatedness of Jason Giambi when you see my salary) Morris? Yeah that trade was bad. Drafting Brian Bullington first overall instead of B.J. Upton, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels, or Jeff Franceour. Even worse. But hey, the Pirates aren’t completely screwed (see Giants). In fact the Pirates actually have a nice problem in their outfield situation.
From a quick glance the Pirates outfield looks set for a while. With Bay(29) in left, McLouth(26) in center, and Nady(29) in right, the Bucs look like their outfield is the one component of their team which they don’t need to focus on. But in fact the outfield situation is probably the area of the Pirates Neil Huntington (GM of Pirates) needs to focus on the most. The Pirates have Andrew McCutchen and Steven Pearce in AAA.
The case with Andrew McCutchen(pictured left)is simple, next year he will be the starting center fielder in Pittsburgh. Steven Pearce is a bit more difficult to predict because he has the ability to play left field, right field, and first base. Obviously, all three of those positions are already occupied well in Pittsburgh by Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Adam LaRoche respectively. Let me first start off by saying, although it doesn’t mean absolutely anything, the Adam LaRoche for Mike Gonzalez trade was horrible. Mike Gonzalez was, if not the best, one of the best closers in baseball, and why Bobby Cox put Bob Wickman in the closer spot over Gonzalez is another story. Adam LaRoche for a top-notch closer? Perhaps the Pirates could trade away LaRoche for a shortstop or third baseman.
In fact if I was GM, I would have traded Freddy Sanchez to the Rockies during the off season and gotten Ian Stewart(Third baseman) and Taylor Buchholz(reliever). But that’s not going to happen, because #1. Freddy Sanchez is horrible this year(.262 OBP, ugh) and #2. Buchholz has been dominant this year, even better than I thought he was going to be. In case you’re wondering, yes, I did, in my mind, set up this trade during the off season. I’m not making it up right now because Sanchez is sucking and Buchholz is awesome. Anyway let’s stop talking about if I was GM and start talking about what Neil Huntington should do.
I can’t lie to myself, Steven Pearce has been a huge disappointment in Indianapolis(AAA). His numbers aren’t that bad, but (as I’m sure Steven knows) he really needs to play like he did last year in order for Huntington to consider either trading him or Bay, McLouth or Nady away. Pearce had a good September call up last year, and really just blasted his way through every level of the Pirates from A+ to The Show. A .321 OBP and nine home runs through 71 games in Triple A is not going to cut it. You wonder why? Not only was Steven Pearce good in Indianapolis last season, but he was good in Majors, and the only reason he didn’t start in the majors this year is, unfortunately for him, the outfield is the strongest component of the Bucs.
Nate McLouth in a perfect world is a right fielder. A starting right fielder? For now, I say yes but that could change. The high OBP isn’t as surprising as the power numbers
to me. His OBP has been increasing every year as he becomes a more polished player. The power perplexes me, and that isn’t a good thing. Usually when something is perplexing to many people it isn’t a good sign for the future. Or could it be as simple as playing everyday, Nate’s swing has developed and that is the reason why the once 14-homers-a-season guy has turned into a 32-homers-a-season guy.
If the Pirates should have Andrew McCutchen in center and Nate McLouth in right, then that leaves the question of who do you trade? Jason Bay or Xavier Nady? It would have been a no brainer a couple of years ago, but both are 29 years old and Bay maybe has more of an upside but Bay’s been playing worse every year since 2005. Nady since becoming a full fledged starter since being traded for Oliver Perez, has been getting considerably better. A GM’s gut may still tell him to take Bay, but let’s just compare stats since 2004.
Jason Bay Age:29 2008 Salary: $6 million
G AB H HR RBI BB SO SB CS OBP SLG
Xavier Nady Age:29 2008 Salary: $3,350,000
Year Team G AB H HR RBI BB SO SB CS .OBP .SLG
2004 SD 34 77 19 3 9 5 13 0 0 .321 .416
2005 SD 124 326 99 13 43 22 67 2 1 .301 .439
2006 NYM-PIT 130 468 131 17 63 30 85 3 3 .337 .453
2007 PIT 125 431 120 20 72 23 101 3 1 .330 .476
2008 PIT 66 245 77 10 49 21 43 1 0 .376 .510
Salary is another interesting factor in this discussion. There is no clear cut answer on who’s the better player, so you may just take the guy who makes over $2 million less. If I’m the GM of another team looking to make a deal with Pittsburgh, I would rather acquire Nady, even if I thought Bay was the slightly better player, which I do.
Another issue the Pirates need to address is why they are not trading away Jack Wilson(30) or Freddy Sanchez(30). Would you be surprised if I told you that Freddy Sanchez is older than Jack Wilson? Sanchez, in fact, is eight days older than Jack Wilson. Sanchez has created the illusion of being younger than he is, by having a breakout year (2006) at the age of 28, which is basically the prime of your career. But, since most people had not heard of him, it gave the impression that he was an up-and-coming ballplayer. I understand the reasoning of them not planning on trading away Adam LaRoche, because he is still a young position player and would be good fit for that team if played the way he did in 2006. On the other hand both Wilson and Sanchez are getting past their prime, but still could be considered starting players. One would say that since third base, shortstop, and second base are weakest positions throughout the Pirates organization, you can’t trade away the starters at your major league level, but do you seriously care when you’re in the Pirates situation? You’re not winning with Jack Wilson or Freddy Sanchez so trade them away before Sanchez proves he’s a bust and before teams start seeing Jack Wilson as a poor man’s old Omar Vizquel. Wilson could create interests with numerous teams like the Rays(Jason Bartlett is not a starter), Orioles(neither is Alex Cintron), or Cardinals(we’ll see how good Brendan Ryan really is). Some teams are seeing Jack Wilson as a great utility guy and other teams are thinking of him as a starting shortstop. In any case, I think it would be intriguing to let Josh Wilson be the starting shortstop if Jack Wilson somehow moves. Josh was a guy thought to be a true hitter coming up with the Rockies, but has been blocked by others everywhere he has gone and has struggled in a utility position. In AAA so far he has a .358 .OBP with four dingers in 68 games.
Before the season started, Sanchez’s value would have been much higher, but come on Sanchez’s season has been horrendous and I am not really sure how much the Pirates could get for him, but Sanchez needs to be traded at this year’s deadline, period. Teams like the White Sox, Cubs, or Indians could trade away some good middle infield prospect away. Just throwing out some feasible trades in my mind. Freddy Sanchez to the Cubs for Michael Wuertz, Ronny Cedeno and/or Marquez Smith. Freddy Sanchez to the Indians for Jensen Lewis, and Wes Hodges(the Indians probably won’t let Hodges get away, so perhaps the Pirates could get Jared Goedert and Josh Rodriguez instead).
Well, I’m finally done venting, and frankly after using three days to write this post, I’m sick of the Pirates. I’m done writing about them, unless of course they actually do trade somebody in which case I will analyze it right here on District Boy. When people say that I’m only thirteen and am spending so much time on studying baseball and I’m obsessed with it, I think this is what they mean(spending three days writing about a team that I don’t care the least about, yet do it anyway because, well…………
I think I’ll cover the Giants next entry. (Warning – If you are a fan of Brian Sabean stay away from this blog for at least a week)