Friday, July 25, 2008

They pull the trigger...

Fox Sports reports that the Bucs have sent Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Evil Empire for AAA RHP Ross Ohlendorf, Class AA LHP Phil Coke and RHP George Kontos and Class AA OF Jose Tabata, pending physicals and medical reports.

Pittsburgh was supposed to have their eye on Ohlendorf. The Yankees used him out of the pen this year. He pitched 40 innings with a 1-1 record and a 6.53 ERA before being sent back down. The 6'4", 25 year-old right-hander has a 93 to 96 mph sinking fastball, a slider and changeup.

After being demoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he was converted back to a starter and went 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in four games. He pitched 16 2/3 innings and allowed 19 hits and four walks and struck out 20.

He was twice an all-star in the minors; the Bucs probably plan to turn him around. Ohlendorf could have a shot at the musical chairs that the rotation has become.

Coke, 26, was 9-4 with a 2.90 ERA as a starter at Trenton and had just been promoted to AAA. He throws his 4-seamer about 91-92 mph and has a strong sinker a few ticks slower, with an average change up and a curve that's improving.

Kontos, 23, may be the sleeper of the bunch. He throws a 93-95 MPH 4-seam fastball, but mostly uses a 2-seamer. His change-up, now more refined, is 78-80 MPH. His slider is his best pitch. It is devastating with a huge break that causes plenty of swings and misses. Kontos was 3-9 at Trenton, with a 3.77 ERA and a rep as a hard luck pitcher.

He was also arrested in Tampa last year when he refused to leave a bar at last call.

Tabata, 19, was hitting .248 at Trenton with 3 HR's, 36 RBI, 40 runs scored and 10 stolen sacks. He's pretty highly touted, in the Melky Cabrera mold. Tabata is supposed to have a rifle for an arm, though not that great a cover guy on the OF. The Venezuelan has been an OK RBI man, averaging a run driven in every 2 games, a good line considering he has shown so little power so far.

Tabata has been on the DL with a hamstring injury that has kept him out since July 1 and had a wrist (hamate) injury, ala Pedro Alvarez, earlier in the year. There's been some thought given about him shutting it down the remainder of this season.

Tabata's been suspended by the team for three days, too, and has a rep as a problem child. Some think he was rushed to AA and might have been better served at his age to play high A another season.

Still, as of January 2008, Tabata was ranked the Yankees 3rd best prospect by Baseball America behind Joba Chamberlain and Austin Jackson.

No sure shots here, but a lot of upside and probably what the organization needed to start bulking up. The jury is still out on the deal. The Yankees are happy they didn't part with any A-list arms, and the Pirates got a quick jolt of younger talent.'s Jon Heyman says of the deal:
Pittsburgh came down off its initial price tag an awful long way then. Tabata still has very exciting potential and is incredibly young, but his wrist problems are scary and he's looking like a headcase. Ohlendorf has never been a good bet to develop into anything more than a sixth- and seventh-inning guy. Pitcher Phil Coke is also believed to be in the deal, and he's a true long shot to help.

One thing that's obvious is they're looking down the road a couple of seasons for the guys they got to make their mark. Pittsburgh's a weaker team today than they were yesterday.

But youth needed to be served, especially on the mound. And maybe some competition will bring out the best in the current staff. Nothing focuses you like the risk of losing your job, hey?

Now does the housecleaning continue, or did the Pirates make their move?

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