Now that it has been about six weeks since the Pirates traded Xavier Nady, Damaso Marte and Jason Bay, let’s take a look back at how each of the players involved have performed with their new teams. Today we take a look at the deal that sent Nady and Marte to the Yankees in exchange for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen and Jeff Karstens.
At the time of the trade, many people saw the Pirates giving up a .330 hitter with pop and a dominant left-handed reliever for three mediocre pitchers and a talented minor league troublemaker. Let’s start with the players we gave up. Nady has increased his power production since leaving Pittsburgh (ISO: PIT-.205, NYY-.242), but has not reached base as often (AVG: PIT-.330, NYY-.286; OBP: PIT-.383, NYY-.341). The increase in isolated power combined with the drop in batting average has balanced out to keep his slugging percentage pretty steady (SLG: PIT-.535, NYY.528). Certainly, the increase in power has come from a ridiculous home run/fly ball ratio of 24.4% for the Yankees. It was 14% with the Pirates, which is about his career average. I highly doubt that he can maintain that elevated rate. Digging a bit deeper, Nady’s walk percentage has been closer to his career average of 6% (BB%: PIT-7.1%, NYY-5.8%) while his strikeout rate has been way above his career average of 19.9% (K%: PIT-16.8%, NYY-26.1%). He has chased many pitches for both teams (O-Swing%: PIT-30.47%, NYY-32.55%), but his contact rate has been much lower in New York (Contact%: PIT-81.70%, NYY-72.59%). His line drive percentage is still solid, though it is a bit lower than his April-July rate (LD%: PIT-26.5%, NYY-23.3%). This has led to a predictable drop in BABIP (BABIP: PIT-.367, NYY-.330). Overall, Nady has looked a bit more like the player he was in 2007 since joining the Yankees.
Marte has struggled since heading to New York. He has posted an ERA of 6.28, and a WHIP of 1.33. However, he seems to have experienced some bad luck. He has put up a K/9 of 13.19 and only allowed one home run in 14.1 innings. His BB/9 is high at 4.40, but that still leaves him with a solid K/BB ratio of 3.00. His BABIP is at .362, and the DER behind him has only been .667. In addition, his strand rate is only 53.8%, down from 74.9% with the Pirates. His struggles just go to show how silly it is to place too much value on a solid reliever. Their numbers fluctuate too much.
On to the new Pirates. Tabata reported briefly to Bradenton to rehab a sore hamstring. When he arrived in Altoona, he took the Curve by storm. Only 19-years-old when he initially arrived, Tabata hit .348/.402/.562 in 89 at-bats with Altoona. He also hit three home runs and stole eight bases without being caught. In 294 at-bats in the Yankees’ organization, Tabata hit .248/.320/.310 with just three home runs. Overall, his BB% was over 8% for the season. That is a great sign for such a young player in Double-A. He should be in Triple-A in 2009, and I am very encouraged about his future.
Ohlendorf was very solid in seven Triple-A starts after being acquired by the Pirates. He posted a 3.47 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP, and struck out 40 compared to eight walks in 46.2 innings. He has struggled in two starts since his recall to the Pirates, but I like what I have seen from Ohlendorf. He throws hard, pitches inside and is said to have quality off-speed stuff, though we have not really seen it so far. With some improvement in his command, I think he could be a solid starter in the Majors.
McCutchen was decent in Indy, sporting a 3-3 record with a 4.69 ERA in eight starts. He struck out 41, walked only seven and allowed 49 hits in 48 innings, all excellent numbers. His WHIP of 1.17 was very solid. McCutchen’s downfall was allowing a ridiculous amount of home runs. He allowed 12 home runs in those 48 innings, which led to the inflated ERA. If McCutchen can limit the long ball, he could have a very promising future.
Karstens was brilliant upon his arrival in Pittsburgh, throwing six shutout innings in his first start and flirting with a perfect game en route to shutting out Arizona in his second. Since then, he has posted an ERA over seven. I don’t see much in Karstens’ Major League future. He has struck out just over three batters per nine innings in 97.2 career innings, and I can see him only marginally improving those numbers. He looks like a right-handed Zach Duke that allows a few more home runs. Like Duke, he will probably end up as a fifth starter/rotation depth in the end. I think he will sneak into the 2009 rotation, at least at the outset of the season.
All in all, this trade looks much better than it did at the time it was made. The eventual outcome will obviously be determined by Tabata’s future performance. He lost quite a bit of his top prospect status with his struggles earlier in the year, but his stellar performance at Altoona should alleviate some of the concerns that he could end up being a bust. Even if it was a very small sample size.