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On Starting Steve Pearce

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WTM in a Primer thread (about John Sickels' list of the Pirates' top 20 prospects) yesterday:

The one guy on that list (other than 27-yr-old rookie [Nyjer] Morgan) who's ready for the majors is [Steve] Pearce, and he's probably headed back to AAA. If you want a good measure of how much things have or haven't changed in Pittsburgh, wait a few months to see what happens with him.

I said something like this in a conversation with a couple of Pirate fans the other night. Here are a couple of 2008 ZiPS projections:

Steve Pearce .267/.324/.462
Xavier Nady .259/.319/.449

Pearce will be 25 in April, and he hit .320/.366/.557 in Class AAA last year. Is there any good reason to send him back there? Nady currently has a starting job, even though Pearce is a good bet to be better than him offensively and perhaps also defensively. Whether or not the Bucs move Nady (or, I guess, Jason Bay or Adam LaRoche) to make way for Pearce should tell us a lot about what kind of season they want to have in 2008.