Saturday, July 26, 2008

Breaking news...

Peter Abraham of the NY Post, in his LoHud Yankees Blog reports the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte deal has been reconfigured (EDIT - it's official now. The final pieces weren't put together until this morning. Ohlendorf and Karstens join the 40-man roster, and Steve Pearce was called up from Indy.)

The Yankees are sending RHP Dan McCutchen, RHP Jeff Karstens, OF Jose Tabata and RHP Ross Ohlendorf to Pittsburgh for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. LHP Phil Coke and RHP George Kontos are out of the mix now.

We sort of wondered when the teams refused to name names whether the deal was still in flux. Pick one from column A, another from column B...

Karstens, 26, throws a 90-91 MPH heater with an improving splitter, a change up he uses for his out pitch, and a curve he rarely shows. He's 6-4 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with a 3.80 ERA. In two years with the Yankees, Karsens is 3-5 with a 5.65 ERA as a starter and long man.

McCutchen, 25, is highly considered in the Yankee organization and was generally thought to be untouchable. He throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball, a curve and change - and it's said he's developed a pretty mean slider at Scranton, where he's 4-6 with a 3.58 ERA.

He was also suspended 50 games for steroid use between 2006-07. McCutchen denies that allegation, saying it wasn't the juice but an ADD med he was taking.

Both guys are starters and good control/low hit pitchers. McCutchen has a WHIP of 1.19, Karstens 1.18. We really liked Kontos, but this duo is an upgrade over the discarded pair. Older, but nearer to being MLB ready, even if they're part of the second tier of Bronx Bomber pitching.

It also shows how vital depth is in an organization. The Yankees didn't put a dent in their list of their top pitching prospects and landed a pair of proven MLB players. But while it didn't hurt their system a twit, it immediately upgraded Pittsburgh's. The Pirates are still years away from that ability to reload or deal.

Our take? While many fans point enviously to Billy Beane's booty bag, he traded pitching, and everyone was willing to bid high for that commodity. The Pirates needed pitching, and it was obvious no one was parting with their elite. The Bucs were offered AA arms across the board, and that was as good as it would get.

So they got a talented headcase in Tabata, who they can groom to replace Bay someday if he lives up to his potential. McCutchen is a top flight AA arm and more than holding his own in AAA.

Ohlendorf and Karstens can toss MLB ball, even if at the back end of the rotation or as long men, and the recent implosion of Pirate pitching attests to their need for that. Of course, they could became part of the Indy crop of AAAA pitchers, too, so the jury is out on them until they put up or shut up.

Face it - Nady and Marte were dead men walking as far as the Pirate suits were concerned. Tampa and the Mets wouldn't or couldn't beat the Yankee deal.

So Pittsburgh pulled the trigger to hopefully get some pitching depth at the upper levels with Ohlendorf and Karstens - remember, Indy's rotation was in shambles, too - and some down-the-road potential with McCutchen and Tabata.

Could they have done better holding out to the deadline? Maybe, but obviously they thought not. A couple of days won't tell the tale, anyway. A couple of years will.

Now it's Jay Bay's turn on the hot seat. According to the Pro Blog:
Before Friday night's game against the Phillies, many of the Braves players were asking whether Jason Bay was going to be one of their teammates at some point this weekend. On Thursday night, some of them were under the impression that a deal with the Pirates was imminent.

In fact one player said he had expected to wake up on Friday and learn the deal was complete. But when asked on Friday night, the Braves said they weren't close to making a deal for Bay.

Still as Braves GM Frank Wren continues his search for a power bat, Bay remains a definite candidate.

Adam Rubin of the NY Daily News reports:
The Mets have narrowed their trade focus to acquiring a corner outfielder, and one team insider expressed optimism that Cleveland's Casey Blake, Seattle's Raul Ibanez or Pittsburgh's Jason Bay could be obtained next week.

The belief is that those teams' demands, currently exorbitant, will relax as Thursday's trading deadline approaches. GM Omar Minaya wouldn't discuss individual players, but acknowledged the organization has started to focus on particular targets.

The Pirates' trade of Xavier Nady last night might change Pittsburgh's plans about trading Bay.

Could shape up to be an interesting week of rumors ahead of us, but we think Bay stays and any deals would be of smaller pieces.

As Jenifer Langosch of writes about future wheeling and dealing:
There is not believed to be any deal imminent. And because of the steady financial state of the team and the contract situations of the remaining players, the Pirates would have to be blown away by an offer to cut a deal. As a result, it remains plausible, but unlikely, that any other big deals will come down in Pittsburgh over the next week.

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