Former Indians assistant GM and self-confessed sabremetrician Neal Huntington hit the bigtime last year when he took the head GM position of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Woo, Western Pennsylvania! Anyway, the Pirates are stagnating in last place of the NL Central, a full 13 games behind the Cubbies and going nowhere fast.
Still, they have a talented outfield, a decent bullpen, and a shortstop who can pat his head and rub his tummy at the same time, so every slightly-above-average team is foaming at their mouths for a chance to make a trade with the Pirates.
So what is Neal waiting for? Time to blow up this mediocre team and acquire some prospects and start rebuilding for 2010! Wait...the Pirates haven't had a winning season since the early 90s...time to start building for 2012! Here are your candidates for prom queen:
- Damaso Marte, RP: Allegedly, twelve teams have inquired with Neal about the lefthanded veteran Marte, who sports a decent 3.55 ERA and decent splits against both lefties and righties. Still, he's got a fat 6.52 ERA away from Pittsburgh so any new team should be careful to coddle him on the road with some swank room service and perhaps a teddy bear. My best guess: he'll become a Met, with the Rays lurking as a dark horse.
- John Grabow, RP: This lefty reliever is seen as a poor man's Marte, who is really just a poor man's Billy Wagner, who's just a poor excuse for a 'closer'. Perhaps the loser in the Damaso Marte sweepstakes will go for Grabow. My best guess: the Rays will nab him, with the Red Sox waiting in the wings.
- Jack Wilson, SS: The scrappy veteran shortstop wouldn't normally be the belle of the ball, but with shortstop depth in the majors at an all-time low, desperate teams like the Dodgers (currently employing Nomar Garciaparra) and Tigers could really use his meager .688 OPS at the position. My best guess: he'll stay a Pirate because his price is too high (allegedly the Pirates want Matt Kemp in return)
- Xavier Nady, RF: Nady's tidy .907 OPS could improve nearly any team's corner outfield positions. Sure, he's playing way over his head but he's cheap and he's easy, not unlike a Belgrade hooker on Saint Vitus' Day. He'd make a good seventh slot hitter for one of the contenders and pick up some timely RBI. My best guess: the Mets will welcome him back to fill Moises Alou's crippled shoes.
- Jason Bay, LF: What're you, nuts? At least give Pirate fans reason to come to the consarn games. Well, he'd fetch a pretty penny...too bad Omar Minaya blew up the Mets farm system last year. My best guess: he'll stay a Pirate because his price is too high
- Freddy Sanchez, 2B: The team should have pushed this chip to the middle of the table when its value was high, like when he won the batting title in 2006, not now as his OPS sits under .600. Yuck! Ain't nobody want him now. My best guess: he'll stay a Pirate because he can't hit no more.
Other possible candidates to be traded: Jason Michaels, Roberto Clemente's ashes, and a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card.