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Lincoln Has Elbow Trouble; Walker to Move to Third

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Ugh. Both Brad Lincoln and Neil Walker took a tumble down the prospect charts today.

UPDATE: Sorry, I didn't have time to comment on this more thoroughly when I posted it. If the Bucs are moving Walker because his defense at catcher stunk, that's one thing, and I'm not really prepared to comment on that. But, from all indications, this appears to be a show of confidence for Ronny Paulino, which is just an incredibly stupid reason to move a good prospect. Walker has so much more value to the Bucs as a catcher. If Walker barrels through the minors this year and the Bucs suddenly have two major-league quality catchers, that's a great problem to have, and then they can trade one of them for something nice. The Pirates have taken a really nice situation at catcher, with Paulino, Walker, and Ryan Doumit, and moved the two hitters with the most upside to positions where their bats may not carry them. That strikes me as a really dumb thing to do. Paulino is a nice player to have, but he's not the Catcher of the Future or anything like that. Most organizations would not be at all satisfied with Paulino as the presumptive starter for the next several years - sure, you hope things work out, but you aren't surprised if they don't. But the Pirates aren't like most organizations, I guess.

The Post-Gazette's Thursday Q+A:

What I wrote two Sundays ago in the offseason's last Hot Stove, David, was that the Pirates are contemplating trying Walker at third base or the outfield this spring, largely because Paulino appears to cast such a large shadow at catcher. I have not heard, from anyone in management, of dissatisfaction or discouragement in regard to Walker's defense behind the plate. Nor have I heard of anything related to that burden you describe. To the contrary, the impression I got over the past couple years was that the Pirates viewed Walker as being most valuable as a switch-hitting, power-hitting catcher... But what might separate Paulino here is that management holds his handling of the pitching staff in such high regard that it would seem he could hit .210 -- rather than his .310 of last season -- and still keep the job.
The only sense in which Paulino should "cast a large shadow" is... naw, forget it, I'm not going to go there. But the notion that he's some uber-catcher because of his "handling of the pitching staff" is just bunk. Baseball Prospectus has thoroughly disproven the myth of the catcher's ability to "handle pitchers."

As for Lincoln, we'll see how serious this is, but given the Bucs' troubles with injuries to their pitching prospects and their lack of honesty in reporting those injuries, I fear the worst. The fact that it's an elbow problem is worrisome.