July 26, 2008
BASEBALL: X Marks The Spot
The Yankees obviously made a good deal, or at any rate a necessary one, picking up Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte from the Pirates for four youngsters, RHP Ross Ohlendorf, RHP George Kontos, LHP Phil Coke and OF Jose Tabata.
There are a few cautions on Nady. He's never had 500 at bats in a season. His .330/.383/.535 line way ahead of his career .281/.337/.456 line at age 29. He's a career .281/.336/.476 hitter in the first half and career .300/.355/.448 hitter in August, but .266/.329/.392 in September. But then, the Yankees are looking for a capable fill-in, not expecting a .330 hitter with power. The 33-year-old Marte, of course, has always been an effective reliever and his control has only improved in recent years. If anything, his 47/16 K/BB ratio suggests that he's pitching better than his 3.47 ERA would indicate - and he has been, with a 2.35 ERA since April 5 after allowing 6 runs in 2/3 of an inning in his first two outings, and allowing just 4 of 29 inherited runners to score since then.
I've been a fan for a while of the 25-year-old Ohlendorf, who has struck out 45 batters in 46.1 IP in the bigs and has excellent K/BB numbers in the minors, but his control hasn't been good this season and since joining the Yankee organization he's been too prone to the longball. Presumably the Pirates will give him a long trial as a starter and can afford to wait out his growing pains.
Tabata is supposed to be a big prospect and he's only 19, so he has time. Like Fernando Martinez, he's generally been young for his league and responded by hitting a lot of singles and doubles and little else, but he's been overmatched so far in AA, hitting .248/.320/.310. The Pirates can wait, and the Yankees can look into him again when he approaches free agency.
The 25-year-old Coke and 23-year-old Kontos, both at AA, also seem like decent prospects, especially Coke, who in 344.1 IP since 2006 (split between A and AA; he was only just promited to AAA before the deal) has averaged 7.82 K, 3.03 BB - both decent numbers, nothing special - but just 0.44 HR/9.
I liked the trade as well. Now the Yanks just have to get another reliable starter.
The Yankees are making their move. That was a great trade with role players who will fit right in without fuss or muss. Washurn is on the way. We can get down to business and start rolling. Tabata is a good prospect, but has been suspended twice this season. Definite knucklehead vibe. So we really didn't give up anything big to get some nice pieces of the puzzle.
I don't see much downside to this for the Yankees. I think all the guys they gave up, while potentially successful in the future, need to room to make mistakes that you don't get in pinstripes. And Tabata, even moreso than Fernando Martinez, seemed to be stalling out on his way to stardom. So I doubt they will immensely regret trading him.
Nady's good, though not really a star. But the Yankees can use more grunts.
This trade somewhat suprises me on both sides. I thought the Yankees were going to commit to maintaining their farm hands for now. I'm also suprised the Pirates gave up two good players when it looked like they were finally building a good nucleus and chemistry for next season.
I compliment the Steinbrenners. They got two great players and they never give up on playing in October.
As a Pirates fan I have been waiting for the Buccos to trade some of their older performers for propects. While I think the Yankees got what they wanted in this trade, the Pirates can only hope that 2 of these players develop into something. They don't have to be stars, just solid performers.
The two Pirates traded were not in the Buc's long term plans. Marte was going to be a free agent at the end of the year (they were not going to take him to arbitration-too much $s).
Nady was going to be free agent at the end of 2009 and again the Pirates were not going to pay him. Plus the Pirates have two outfielders in AAA (McCutchen and Pearce) who will be ready late this year to get major league playing time.
So I think a good trade for both teams but the Pirates are taking the risks here in hoping that the prospects develop.
Nady was always a good clutch hitter, and was with the Mets. However, I can see problems with Abreu in left and Nady in right. Abreu is a good fielder as long as he is 20 feet from the wall; nobody can ever call Nady a good fielder. He isn't afraid of the wall, but he can't manage it well. Can you imagine deep fly balls to the corners? They better get Maddux out of retirement to play center.
Also, something has to be done with the Pirates. How they manage a team is virtually fraudulent. The Brewers, the A's, the Twins all seem to find ways. The Royals at least try. The Bucs don't even do that.