PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 4: Nate McLouth #2 of the Pittsburgh Pirates gets a base hit against the Cincinnati Reds during the game on May 4, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
So Nate McLouth predictably turned out to be a waste of money, and now he's been designated for assignment. Matt Hague, who hadn't been hitting too well himself down in Indianapolis, takes McLouth's place. Hague had a .658 OPS in Class AAA and he's pretty limited defensively, but, mathematically, it would be pretty difficult for him to be worse than McLouth was.
I suppose that if, before the season, you squinted at McLouth in just the right way, you could have seen a functional bench outfielder in there, but his increasing problems hitting for average were red flags, and paying $1.75 million for him, as the Pirates did, was way too much. Here's what I wrote about the signing at the time.
I'm not saying his batting average is the best indicator of his value, obviously, only pointing out that a guy who provides little defensive value and repeatedly struggles to hit .230 as he heads into his 30s doesn't seem likely to contribute.
Maybe McLouth comes back to Pittsburgh, recovers a little bit of that 2008 magic, and helps out as a bench player. I'll be rooting for him. But it looks at least as likely to me that he joins with Clint Barmes, Rod Barajas and Pedro Alvarez to help the Pirates make a run at the modern record for lowest team batting average. I'm kind of kidding, but kind of not.
Gah. McLouth: .140 batting average. Barmes: .178. Barajas: .212. Alvarez: .203.
UPDATE: Clint Hurdle says Hague will get a fair number of starts at first. I'm not sure how likely that is to improve things, but at this point, I can't argue with it.