Bowker got caught in a logjam on the depth chart. "He was my third left fielder, my third right fielder, my third first baseman," Hurdle said.
Paul is still the Pirates' third left fielder and third right fielder, so I guess the advantage he has is that he's the second center fielder. And he has some speed.
The article notes that the Pirates considered Paul "an upgrade over Alex Presley," who has a similar skill set, but I don't agree. If you look at Presley's minor-league numbers, Presley has more power, and has put up good overall numbers despite hitting in a relatively neutral context in Indianapolis, as opposed to the crazy one in Albuquerque.
"He's got major league experience and he's done more time [in Class AAA ] with more success," Hurdle said of Paul. "We had that conversation about Alex Presley, I actually had it with [director of player development] Kyle Stark."
That Paul has "had more success" than Presley at Class AAA is, I think, debatable. If you plug Paul's 2010 Class AAA numbers into the MLE calculator, you get a .248/.289/.429 line in Pittsburgh, compared to .256/.304/.387 line when you adjust his 2010 and 2011 Class AAA numbers for playing in Pittsburgh. That's a little better for Paul, but not much, particularly considering that Presley has hit better in 2011 than in 2010 and that Paul has also logged 133 big-league at-bats in 2010 and 2011 and basically done nothing with them. But maybe the Pirates simply want Presley - who wasn't even really a prospect before a very surprising 2010 season - to log more than 354 at bats at Class AAA before they give him an extended shot.
This isn't a big deal, in any case, but it appears that the Pirates just had little use for Bowker and preferred a guy who hits a little bit less but can pinch-run and back up Andrew McCutchen in center. After seeing Darren Ford run like crazy against the Bucs a few days ago, I can certainly understand that point of view, but I would still rather have the guy who can hit a little.