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Bucs Interested In Shealy

The Post-Gazette reports that the Bucs are several teams interested in Rockies first baseman Ryan Shealy.

Shealy was recently called up, but he has played most of 2006 for the Rockies' Class AAA affiliate in Colorado Springs; for the year, he has hit .284/.351/.568 there.

That looks impressive, but there are a couple of major caveats. First, Colorado Springs is a hitters' paradise, even in the context of the Pacific Coast League. Numbers posted there can't be taken at face value. Second, Shealy turns 27 next month, so it's likely he won't get much better. A .351 OBP at Colorado Springs translates to an unacceptably low OBP for a starting first baseman in the majors.

Still, there are a few reasons to like Shealy. He actually hit much better at Class AAA in 2005, posting a .994 OPS. Before that, he posted ridiculous hitting numbers all over the minors. (He had a career 1011 OPS in the minors before this year.) So perhaps his somewhat less impressive hitting performance is simply the result of his hitting a glass ceiling - I've never seen a study on this, but I've heard one analyst say that it's common for a good prospect who's repeating Class AAA to have worse numbers his second time through, and that the decline doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the prospect's ability.

Also, one of the other teams interested in Shealy is the Giants, who are also interested in Sean Casey. If the Bucs could deal for Shealy the price for Casey would rise, at least theoretically. Obviously, another benefit to trading for Shealy would be that the Bucs wouldn't have any reason to continue thinking about signing Casey to a long-term deal.

I'd like to have Shealy, and he's a much better option than re-signing Casey. I'd normally prefer that the Bucs trade for younger players, but given the absolute dearth of internal options at first base next year, I'll make an exception in this case.

Why, I'm wondering, have the Rockies waited so long to trade Shealy? They could've probably gotten something better for him last year.