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Community Projection Review: Jose Bautista

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PLAYER POS. COMMUNITY
ZiPS
ACTUAL
Jose Bautista 3B .261/.342/.433 .249/.329/.415 .238/.314/.405 (overall)

ZiPS again did better than we did. Even if we toss out Bautista's play with Toronto, which was pretty bad, he still only hit .242/.325/.404. Chad Bahamas was the best guesser, predicting that Bautista would hit .245/.325/.410. That's only a smidge better than ZiPS did. 

The community predicted that Bautista would have a better season than he'd ever had before. Given that 2008 was his Age-27 year, that seemed reasonable, especially since Bautista had posted an excellent walk rate the year before without increasing his power. 

Whatever qualms we may have had with the trade that sent Bautista to Toronto, we've probably seen enough to know now that he is what he is--a third baseman who will post a fair number of walks, but not nearly enough base hits, homers or defense for the position. Bautista only racked up 56 at bats in six weeks with the Jays. I assume Bautista will be tendered a contract, but I wouldn't expect him to get more than a few hundred at bats even if Scott Rolen needs to miss 50 games the way he usually does.

In return for Bautista, the Bucs acquired catcher Robinzon Diaz. Diaz isn't anyone's idea of a high-upside catcher, but he helped addressed an organizational need at the position, and he could be a competent and dirt-cheap backup catcher for the Pirates for the next few years. Since the Bucs demoted Bautista a couple weeks before they traded him, also, there may have been some personal reason for the trade.  

For the Pirates, though, it's quite possible that they simply didn't want to pay Bautista's salary anymore. Personally, I'm fine with that; if the Pirates want to skimp now and save for later, now is the right time to do that, and players like Bautista usually don't turn out to matter a whole lot.

But if the new management team is worth its salt, the Bucs will build the core of a contending team, and if ownership is reluctant to spend when that happens, fans will have no choice but to see moves like the Bautista trade as part of the same old trend. The Pirates didn't necessarily do anything wrong when they traded Bautista, but the new management needs to get the team to the point when an extra complementary player actually matters so that we can see if the new/"new" ownership will be serious about its willingness to raise the payroll.