Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We Fearsee

Joey Porter's Pit Bulls fear foresee fearsee what may be the outcome of the Pirates-Yankees trade a few years out.

In New York, Damaso Marte and Mariano Rivera combine to give the Yankees a dynamic one-two punch at the back end of the bullpen. After the season, the Yanks exercise Marte's option for 2009 and subsequently negotiate a long-term extension whereby he steps into the closer's role eventually opened by the legendary Rivera's retirement.

Xavier Nady becomes the next Paul O'Neill. Like Marte, he signs an extension with New York and steps into the right-field slot opened when the Yanks let Bobby Abreu depart via free agency after the current season. (Abreu's salary this year is $13 million; Nady is a relative bargain at $3.35 million and will be arbitration-eligible in 2009.) While with the Yankees, Nady grows into a leadership role as a reasonably productive player (25-30 HRs a year; .300, .460, .580), embraced and beloved by Yankees fans as a stabilizing force in the clubhouse. The next Paul O'Neill.

On the Pirates' side, the three pitchers scuffle along with plus-five ERAs, plus-two WHIPs (walks + hits per innings pitched). They shuttle back and forth between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, alternating turns on the disabled list.

  • One of them, perhaps Daniel McCutchen, finds middling success as a back-of-the-rotation starter, but gives up too many home runs and clutch hits to be deemed dependable.
  • Ross Ohlendorf displays occasionally good stuff, but like some other Pirates pitchers (Van Benschoten), shows an all-too-frequent tendency to flatten his strikes without sufficient movement and get bombed. The Pirates move him back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, without much success either way.
  • Jeff Karstens struggles early in his Pirates career and gets put on the Indianapolis-Pittsburgh shuttle for a couple years before the Pirates give up on him.
  • In one of the first interviews Jose Tabata gives as a member of the Pirates organization, he blames the Yankees for how they mishandled him. He blames his 2008 lack of production on injuries and too much pressure applied by the Yankees' coaches and front office. In March 2009, at Bradenton, Tabata continues to have hamstring problems and enters the season on the DL. He eventually returns and struggles with AAA pitching. Despite putting up disappointing numbers, he is a September call-up but doesn't do much.
  • Scouts and observers call Tabata "enigmatic" and question his toughness and mental make-up.
  • In 2010, more of the same. Eventually, in 2011, he finds some moderate success and is called up to the parent club but struggles mightily. The Pirates keep him on the roster as a backup outfielder. In 2012, more of the same. Having never made an impact as a major league outfielder, but having found some moderate success as a backup at all three outfield positions, the Pirates include him as apart of a package deal at the trade deadline in 2012, with the acquiring team hoping he can become the next Jody Gerut.

In 2013, the Pirates begin another rebuilding plan with hopes of averting a landmark 20th consecutive losing season.

* * * * * *

ADDENDUM Wednesday, July 30 Update (from the Post-Gazette)

INDIANAPOLIS (51-60) lost at Toledo, 5-3. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (1-2, 4.45) allowed four runs and seven hits -- two home runs -- in six innings. He struck out five, walked two and threw 56 of 85 pitches for strikes.

What does it mean?

As noted today in Dejan Kovacevic's Notebook in the Post-Gazette …

Kyle Stark, director of player development, said (left-hand pitcher and 2007 first-round draft pick, selected by Dave Littlefield over Matt Wieters -- JPPBs editorial note, ahem) Danny Moskos will start again someday but that management wants to lessen the workload in his first full professional season.

"This is not a future role change," Stark said. "We want him to work on being athletic, being aggressive and attacking the zone with this best stuff."

What does that mean? JPPBs never heard a front office type, scout, coach or manager say of a pitcher, "We want him to work on being athletic."

To the contrary, many, many pitchers today and throughout baseball history have been downright unathletic, even fat (David Wells, Mickey Lolich) , yet were able to pitch effectively.

When Kyle Stark says, "We want him to work on being athletic," does that mean they want him to begin training for Olympics gymnastics? Cirque de Soleil? Steelers training camp? Spring training?

Are they saying Moskos is out of shape?

What does it mean?