Today is my day off, and I was playing “Rock Band” on the Wii with my wife and daughter when my cell phone rang. I did not hear it, because we were jamming to “Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones.
But when my land line began ringing, along with every other phone in the house, I quickly figured what was up.
Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte, perhaps the best outfielder and lefty reliever, respectively, on the market, are about to become New York Yankees. In return, several sources tell me, the Pirates receive four minor league prospects — outfielder Jose Tabata and pitchers Ross Ohlendorf, Phil Coke and George Kontos.
It all will officially go down once everybody passes their physicals. The Yanks want to ensure Nady’s hamstring and shoulder are OK. The Pirates are taking a close look at Tabata’s hammy (he’s been on the DL since early this month, and could be done for the season). Tabata also missed time last year because of a hand injury (the hamate bone, the same thing that felled first-round draft pick Pedro Alvarez this year).
Tabata — a 19-year-old playing in Double-A ball — has a huge upside. If he makes good on it, then this trade could be worthwhile. Tabata has not flashed much power so far in his career, but Baseball America ranked him the Yanks’ third-best prospect.
In May, Tabata was suspended for three games after he struck out and angrily bolted from the stadium … during a game. He later apologized to his teammates, saying he was frustrated by his sluggish start to the season.
A couple of weeks later, Tabata got into a shouting match with a teammate. He was removed from the game, but not suspended. So, there appear to be maturity issues here, which must be dealt with by the Pirates.
Coke is 26 years old. Ohlendorf is 25. Kontos is 23. So, there’s the young pitching depth, which is so desperately needed in the Pirates’ farm system.
Yet, none of these guys projects to a No. 1 or 2 starter, or a late-inning hammer in the bullpen. Ohlendorf has been just so-so in two stints in the majors. Coke needed six years to make it to Double-A. Kontos was 3-9 this year for Double-A Trenton.
I trust general manager Neal Huntington waited for the best possible deal for Nady and Marte. I do not believe he jumped on the first offer that came along or jumped too soon.
At least at first glance, the Pirates seem to have given up more talent than they’ve received. But young talent has never been more prized, even by teams such as the Yanks, than it is now. This deal is what it is.
Steve Pearce is on his way from Triple-A Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, and will take Nady’s spot in right field. Ohlendorf probably will wind in the rotation. Coke, Kontos and Tabata will be assigned to the minors, and we’ll see them in a year or two or five.