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Jeff Pearlman probably needs to stop writing about the Pirates

Dec 29, 2009, 10:30 AM EDT

Mere days after writing an article for Sports Illustrated about the Pittsburgh Pirates that he kicked himself over for being “mediocre,” Jeff Pearlman posts about what he feels to be another Pirate misstep: the July 2008 trade of of Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees for Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf:

The Pittsburgh loyalist–an odd breed who gets punched in the head
repeatedly (by his loved one, no less) while screaming, “More! More!
More!” looks at this deal 1 1/2 years later and says, “Not bad.” Nady,
after all, has been injury prone and, when healthy, only moderately
productive. And, before his dazzling World Series showing of two months
ago, Marte was pretty much a Yankee bust–a 5.40 ERA in 25 games last
season, a 9.45 ERA in 21 games this season.

So what did the Pirates receive for two craved medallions? Daniel
McCutcheon, who at best will be a fourth starter for a bad team. Jeff
Karstens, a non-roster invitee for 2010 who will likely wind up in
Triple A for somebody. Ross Ohlendorf, a No. 5 starter or long reliever
for 90 percent of Major League teams (but, in Pittsburgh, a key
component of the rotation). And, last but not least, the mighty Jose
Tabata, a 21-year-old outfielder and the key to the deal for the

This analysis is utterly perplexing to me.  Just days before, in that “mediocre” column, Pearlman took the Pirates to task for allegedly signing expensive, over-the-hill veterans (never mind that they don’t really do that anymore). Now, he’s ripping them for trading older guys who are about to become expensive for young, cheap guys with a lot of upside?

Maybe Jose Tabata doesn’t become the next Manny Ramirez — you never know what will happen with kids like that — but if the Pirates shouldn’t be trading guys they can’t use for promising young players like Tabata, what in Earth should they be doing?

And what’s with the slam on Ross Ohlendorf?  He won 11 games and had a 3.92 ERA — which was above average for the league — for a crappy team. How does that translate to “a No. 5 starter or long reliever
for 90 percent of Major League teams”?  If he was on the Yankees or Dodgers last year he probably would have gotten a postseason start. In fact, I can’t think of a single team that wouldn’t have had a place in their rotation for a guy with an ERA+ of 105 last season.  If the deal was Nady and Marte straight up for Ohlendorf, the Pirates would have won the trade.

Look, I’ve been highly critical of the Pirates over the years for certain things that they do. But one thing they have started to do recently is to acquire guys who, while iffy, are young, cheap and high ceilings. Tabata is one of those guys. So is Lastings Milledge.  It may not work, but it’s the best they can do, and in light of that, it’s pretty smart baseball.

So, two Pirates columns in a week and two whiffs for Jeff Pearlman. Maybe he should cut his losses and start in new with, say, the Royals.

  1. Wooden U. Lykteneau - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    Why stop with the Pirates? How about not writing about all 30 teams? Everybody wins!

  2. Rob in CT - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:23 AM

    To be fair, Ohlendorf probably isn’t as good as that ERA suggests (I haven’t checked, but I’d bet his underlying stats suggest a higher ERA going forward, even in the NL Central). Move him back to the AL East, and I’d be shocked if his ERA was under 5 over the course of a significant number of innings. Ohlie was a guy I rooted for, and still do in a distant way, but he was always more velocity than results. The Yankees would talk about his sinker, but it didn’t do much sinking (I recall it flying very, very far, in fact).
    Tabata is the guy who will make (or not) that trade. He’s the guy who could, possibly, maybe, become a star. He’s a gamble, sure.
    The Pirates sold high on Nady, who was in the midst of a career year. Normally, he’s a league-average LFer. Marte is an expensive lefty reliever with issues staying healthy. The Pirates absolutely should not be paying guys like that.

  3. Eat a Peach - Dec 29, 2009 at 11:38 AM

    Jeff Pearlman’s writing usually amuses me, but he’s definitely on a cold streak with baseball right now. The trade is already a win for the Pirates, they sold on two guys they should have sold, at exactly the right moment, at the peak of their values.
    Baseball America rated Tabata as the Pirates’ #2 prospect right now. Ohlendorf pitched well this season in MLB, McCutchen pitched well at Indianapolis and more than held his own in a 6-game MLB tryout, Karstens was mediocre but gave Pittsburgh 108 MLB swingman innings for not much money. What’s not to like about this trade for Pittsburgh? Do you think he did this on purpose to further inflame Pirates County?

  4. The Gunner - Dec 29, 2009 at 12:05 PM

    As a 50+ year fan who routinely bashes the Bucs on their website for their poor choices/talent evaluation (for instance, dumping Bay with a year left on his contract for spare parts; giving up their great fielding center infield for virtually nothing; not stringing out the Nady-Marte deal closer to the trading deadline and maybe receiving more), this analysis is as fair as it gets.

  5. TigerS Boy ToY - Dec 29, 2009 at 12:28 PM

    You are what your record say’s you are and the Pirates record
    say they suck, the fans deserve better and the Pirates
    owner and executives should be held accountable.There is no
    excuse for the BAD BASEBALL they put on the field.

  6. BR549 - Dec 29, 2009 at 2:38 PM

    Bad baseball indeed, but that is still no excuse for bad writing. Pearlman doesn’t research, he just posts without any idea of what he is saying…..thank you, Internet, for letting me do the same. I just don’t get paid.

  7. hop2171 - Dec 29, 2009 at 9:20 PM

    Jeff Pearlman needs to stop writing PERIOD! That includes articles, books, grocery lists, you name it! I never read one thing he’s evern written that was worth a bucket of spit!

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 30, 2009 at 5:35 AM

    Hop: you’re famous. Or at least your comment is:

  9. hop - Dec 30, 2009 at 1:22 PM

    Well someone had to tell him what a joke he is. I see most of “eat a peach’s” posts disappeared. Im guessing he is realated to Jeffrey and like most can’t handle the truth.

  10. Eat a Peach - Dec 30, 2009 at 2:57 PM

    Wrong, wrong and wrong again, friend-o.
    All the posts are there, you’re just too neurally challenged to find them.

  11. Hop - Dec 30, 2009 at 5:52 PM

    Hey its my personal stalker and Jeffrey’s son eat a peach! Hey sorry if i hit a nerve with ya by calling out your daddy but someday you will grow up and realize i am 100% correct. Than again i think there is a jail cell in your future with a cellmate named big bubba but i figure one of the two will happen. hahahahhaha

  12. hop - Dec 31, 2009 at 1:05 AM

    Eat a “Tube Steak”, the only reason Jeffrey amuses you is because you are not all there. Its ok Eat,the funny part is you dont even know what your screen name means, “BUT” i do junior!! And before you answer, i got this to say…YOU ARE WRONG!! hahahahahhaaha Go kiss jeffrey’s ***** jeff JR!!!

  13. gentle - Jan 4, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    He also can’t spell “McCutchen”

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