-P- Rowdy has been doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations regarding Chris Duffy's defense. First thing's first - unless Nate McLouth can play substantially better than he played last year, I'd actually give Jose Bautista most of the at-bats in center field if Duffy is traded. Bautista is a better hitter than Duffy and, from what I've seen, Bautista may have the tools necessary to become a good centerfielder once he has time to learn the position. He's athletic and he has a good arm. Most of the problems he had last year seemed to have to do with the routes he took, and it seems like that's an area he could improve with time. I'd then hope that Jose Castillo could get himself sorted out by giving him a starting job, and move Bautista back to the infield only if that doesn't work. My point here is that McLouth isn't the only option in center if Duffy leaves. The Pirates could also bring in someone cheap like Darin Erstad - still an excellent defensive centerfielder and not a big downgrade offensively - for 2007 to give themselves more options.
The other main point here, for me, is that whoever plays center for the Bucs in 2007 becomes superfluous as soon as Andrew McCutchen is ready, and that could be very soon. I'm willing to assume, for the purposes of the future of the team, that McCutchen is going to make it, because if he doesn't, the team will have no future anyway. The idea of a Bay-Duffy-McCutchen outfield makes no sense to me. It doesn't matter if McCutchen's bat can carry him in right field - if it can, you're still better off getting a real hitter to play there and enjoying the enormous competitive advantage McCutchen would provide as a centerfielder. So as soon as McCutchen's ready, Duffy's a fourth outfielder. And if Duffy's a fourth outfielder by 2008, then it really would behoove the Pirates to move him for LaRoche, who would almost certainly still be a core player by then. Trading Duffy isn't just about 2007, it's about the future.
-P- Pat's Off-Season Checklist is pretty funny.
-P- One Pirate fan translates Nuttingese into English.
-P- You'll love this AP writeup, which lists - no joke - the reasons why "the Pirates are convinced they can be a factor in the division race."