Monday, August 4, 2008


Well, slowly but surely, I have been talking myself into this Nady/Marte deal to the Yanks for the (not-so) fearsome foursome that is Tabata/ McCutchen/ Karstens/ Ohlendorf, and now, after running through the whole spectrum of emotions, from pissed off to confused to curious to intrigued to mildly satisfied, and that’s about as far along this spectrum as I will probably ever get. I think that’s a step in the right direction, though, and I will do my best to now talk all of you into this very deal.
I know, I know, it’s a typical Pirates defense mechanism, where you talk yourself slowly into it because you really have no other option at this point. But hey, if it weren’t for defense mechanisms, the attendance at Pirate games would be encroaching on single digits. If you don’t like the trade, and are calling for blood and are convinced that Neal Huntington is really just Dunce Littlefield in disguise, hey, I don’t blame you. And I also won’t blame you if you don’t want to read this work of spin, but for those of you who still have that glimmer of hope residing somewhere in your soul, read onward.
Let’s start with the supposed centerpiece of the deal, the (apparently crazy) Jose Tabata, who, naturally is an outfielder, our one area of depth. Tabata is evidently a five-tool player and some say he has even more natural ability then Andrew McCutchen, which is downright stunning to hear. He is the type of skill player that the Bucs haven’t typically targeted because of his incredible upside and the fact that he is probably at least 2 years away and more likely 3-4 years in reality. Of course, as there always is with the Buccaroos, there is a certain downside. That, of course is his inability to stay on the field. He has been suspended on more than one occasion and also has had a number of injuries that have derailed him. Still, he is highly regarded, and if he is able to turn his career around under the watchful eye of a system that definitely needs him to pull through for them.
And now, for the pitchers that we’ve acquired. Jeff Karstens is the only guy on the ML roster right now, but there is without question a good shot at seeing all three of them in the bigs by the end of this coming season, and certainly have the expectation of being up by the 09 Opener. It has been reported that Karstens will start for the Pirates Friday night, so we will see how he fares with a bit of job security and a fresh start, but it would be an understatement to say I’m not much of a Karstens fan. Personally, I don’t expect to ever amount to much more then a borderline major leaguer, not exactly a ringing endorsement. And while I think he could put up some decent starts at first, I don’t envision him as a long-term viable option in the rotation, and think that he may have been acquired simply for stopgap purposes.
Ohlendorf is probably the most highly regarded of this crew, and I have liked what I’ve heard about him thus far, but most experts tend to agree that they think he would be best served as a reliever, and could truly be a stud in this role. As a starter, he likely projects more as a back of the rotation type, so it will be very interesting to see what role the Pirates start him off with, and what role he eventually settles in to. Make no mistake, I fully expect them to try to push him to start, and he likely could see time in September if he gets his arm stretched out sufficiently in AAA, and I have some hope for a middle of the rotation starter, and truth be told, for this team, maybe that’s significant enough.
Lastly, we come to Daniel McCutchen, who will be 26 by season’s end, just like the other two, and is hard to project, just like the other two. He appears to have the best overall stuff of the bunch, but has never appeared in the major leagues, so he clearly is something of an unprocen entity at this point in his career. He had done well in the lower minor leagues in the early stages of his career, but has struggled in a brief stint at the AAA level, and he may not make an appearance in 2008, but if he can get to the level of success that he has had in the lower stages of the minors, then he will certainly be in the mix for what is suddenly a somewhat crowded rotation in 2009. Albeit that rotation is crowded with mediocrity, but hey at least there’s some competition and we aren’t just handing starter spots to guys with ERA’s in the neighborhood of a touchdown.
So, yeah, I have moderately talked myself into this deal under the premise that we should be able to patch together a pretty solid rotation with these parts and the existing group. Sure it took me a few days to get here, and some extensive research on numerous scouting websites, but I don’t totally hate the trade, and when it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates, sometimes that’s the best that you can ask for as a fan. And hey, if they trade Jason Bay tomorrow, rest assured that I will be ready to talk you off the ledge by, oh say, August 3rd or so. Until then folks, rest assured that the Steelers and the Penguins are not far from the regular season…

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