The Andrew McCutchen era has begun in Pittsburgh. Since being selected as the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2005 draft, McCutchen has been the most touted prospect in the Pirates farm system. With last week's surprise trade of Nate McLouth to the Braves, McCutchen was promoted to fill McLouth's centerfield spot, making his major league debut at age 22. Now with four years of professional experience, has McCutchen shown the talent to lead Pittsburgh into contention in the National League Central Division?
The Pirates boldly go, the Big Unit reaches 300, the reluctant Astros face reality, plus news and notes from around the big leagues.
The days of the late-spring/early-summer trade have all but disappeared since the advent of the wild card, with every team potentially able to entertain the idea that it's in contention until at least the All-Star break. The Braves and Pirates brought back the early-season dealing this past Wednesday, however, and there is a feeling throughout baseball that more will be coming before the end of the month.
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In a shocking move Tuesday, the Pirates dealt Nate McLouth to the Braves, and called up heralded prospect Andrew McCutchen to take McLouth's center field duties. The 21-year-old McCutchen was hitting .303 (61-for-201) with four home runs, 20 RBIs and 10 stolen bases for Triple-A Indianapolis prior to his promotion. For the Bucs, McLouth was the final piece - and the last star - left in one of the best outfields in the Majors last season.
Evaluating the McLouth deal involves silver linings for both teams... and for performance analysis' place in the industry.
In the first major trade of the season, the Braves attempted to address their desperate outfield situation by swapping three prospects to the Pirates in exchange for nominal center fielder Nate McLouth. The deal is a lot more interesting than that, not least because what you're about to read here and what at least one other BP analyst says will be fairly divergent. Any time you can get that kind of disagreement, you have an interesting deal.
A post-conference conversation with the man behind the indispensable pair of volumes of The Fielding Bible.
It might be a stretch to say that "defense" is John Dewan's middle name, but then again it easily could be. The author of the highly acclaimed The Fielding Bible has delivered an even more impressive second volume, making Dewan the industry's most influential voice when it comes to defensive metrics. A co-owner of Baseball Info Solutions, Dewan moderated the Baseball Analytics panel at last weekend's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference. Afterwards, he sat down with Baseball Prospectus to talk about why Carlos Gomez is a better defensive outfielder than Nate McLouth, why shortstops love Justin Morneau, and what it means to be a Molina.
Which players off to hot starts should you plug in to fill early roster holes?
Part of fielding a successful fantasy team is watching the waiver wire in order to give the team you initially drafted a bit of a boost. Some owners are loathe to mess with a roster that they feel they did just fine drafting in March, and it takes them time to get moving on issues that pop up on their rosters, waiting for things to kick into gear the way they envisioned. I tend to be a bit more active early on, tweaking my roster here and there, benching or dropping those draft picks I don't like as much the morning after, and finding players with a hot bat or arm to give me a boost during the early part of the season in their stead.