So Nate McLouth is currently tearing up the MLB with the stick while playing good defense in center field. But there is a problem: the organization's best prospect is a center fielder, and nothing else.
Now there is plenty of time for management to evaluate both of these guys, or for one of them to make the decision easy--through injury, lack of production, or something else. But for purposes of this post, lets assume that they are both legit and will stay healthy.
Now for Nate, by legit I don't mean the .333/.414/.627 line he is currently posting. I was thinking a few prime seasons of .290/.385/.500 or so, with 20-35 steals depending where he hits in the order. I think he is entirely capable of this line, if you don't then say so, because it will probably affect your answer to the ultimate question.
Legit for Cutch, in my eyes, would be a June-July call up and demonstration that he is ready--so ready that there is not question he will be with the big club to start 2009 and that the organization is ready to commit to him as a major-leaguer. There is no need for a general stat line here, I think most will know if he is ready or not after seeing 3-4 months of him in '08.
Obviously McLouth's value would decrease if he was moved to left field permanently, but to keep him with the Bucs as one of the organizational building blocks, that seems to be the only option.
Given that McLouth is good for the rest of '08, and McCutchen is ready to take over as the centerfielder in 2009, I would be 100% in favor of making Nate McLouth our left fielder of the future. I think his bat is good enough, and I think it is worth it considering we don't really have any other options in left, at least none that are as good as Nate. We have enough other holes that need to be filled through other means--it just seems smart to let him take left.
So, what do you think?
I'd really like to hear what other people think about having a McLouth, McCutchen, Pearce outfield for a few years. Or, do you think the Bucs should trade one of them? Or, do you see McLouth as more of a fourth outfielder in the future, and we should look for other ways to fill left? Or is there something else to consider I am missing?