Nearly everyone, including the haters, was too optimistic. DHarr18 got the closest, predicting Duffy would hit .265/.312/.342. Given our tendencies to overestimate the value of our players, maybe someone next year will consider guessing .000/.000/.000 for everyone, like guessing $1 on The Price is Right.
Anyway, it gives me no pleasure to write about a clown like Duffy, but now that he's bottomed out, I actually feel compelled to come to his defense a little bit. He's almost certainly done as a starter after this year's miserable effort, but it would be foolish to simply cut him.
Under Dave Littlefield, the Pirates have had problems figuring out what to do with players like Duffy and Ty Wigginton, who (debably, in Wigginton's case) weren't good enough to be starters but had value in other roles.
The Bucs dumped Wigginton because they paid too much for him, and expected too much - Wigginton was average with the stick and poor on defense, so he couldn't cut it as a starter. Instead of seeing Wigginton as someone who could provide pop off the bench and fill in at third, first and even second, the Bucs saw him as someone who had no value. They dumped him in the 2005-2006 offseason and brought in Joe Randa to take his place.
The obvious reason why that was stupid was that Freddy Sanchez was better than Randa and Wigginton, but another reason it was dumb was that Wigginton was also better than Randa, and cheaper. In 2005, Randa had a 105 OPS+ at age 35; Wigginton has a 103 OPS+ at age 27. So who was likely to be better in 2006? And, more importantly, why would a team with serious problems hitting not want to pay about a million bucks for a fairly young and reasonably versatile hitter with a 103 OPS+? Well, Wigginton has been perfectly useful for the last two years with the Rays and Astros, and the Bucs have been screwing around with utility guys like Jose Hernandez, Don Kelly and Jose Castillo.
The same could happen in the outfield next year if the Bucs let Duffy go. Nate McLouth was really good for the Pirates in 2007 and deserves a chance to start next year; I assume our new, intelligent front office will give him that chance. So Duffy, if he isn't cut or traded before Spring Training, will compete for a roster spot with Nyjer Morgan.
Morgan is an exciting player, but he isn't - how do you say? - good. In fact, Duffy's the better player. He was a much better hitter in the minors, he's a better basestealer, and when you get past the razzle-dazzle, he's probably better on defense, too. They're the same age. Morgan should have options left and will be available if Duffy flops. And Duffy won't be arbitration-eligible this year, so the Bucs won't have to pay him anything.
All Morgan has in his favor is a can-do attitude, a couple of great catches and a decent performance in the bigs in a small sample size. Let's not forget that small sample sizes were what got us in trouble with Duffy in 2005. They don't mean much. Morgan has no power whatsoever, is 27, and never showed much before joining the Bucs this year. As someone once said about Tike Redman (another player who burned us with a good performance in a small sample size), "If he learned anything in 2003, he must have figured it out on the flight from AAA." In other words, he didn't learn anything - he just had a hot streak at the right time.
Duffy's not going to be a starter. But that's water under the bridge, and it shouldn't blind us to the fact that he can be a good bench player - he has great speed and plays good defense, and he has a bit of pop. There's no reason to toss out a valuable player just because he didn't meet expectations. I wouldn't advocate a long leash for Duffy, and I won't be incredibly upset if the new management goes in a different direction, but I am against tossing him out for no reason.