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Community Projection Review: Shortstop

Next up in the list of community projections is Jack Wilson.

Community: .271/.313/.360

ZiPS: .267/.317/.358

Actual: .255/.292/.362 (includes 31 games with the Mariners)

Bonus: We predicted Wilson's last game with the Pirates would be August 13; actually his last game was July 27. 

The closest guesser was Bolton, who had Wilson at .249/.294/.350.

Wilson actually hit relatively well for him during the portion of the year when he was a Pirate--his .691 OPS with the Bucs was a bit above his career average. After being dealt to Seattle with Ian Snell for Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Clement and minor league pitchers Brett Lorin, Nathan Adcock and Aaron Pribanic, though, Wilson completely fell apart, missing time with a hamstring injury, the flu, and then a heel bruise that shut him down for good in mid-September. He also failed to hit when he did play.

The Mariners have an $8.4 million option on Wilson for 2010, with a $600,000 buyout. Back when the Pirates had Wilson, that option looked somewhat reasonable, especially in light of the mediocre shortstop free agent class and the Pirates' absence of credible shortstop options in the minors. Given the way Wilson finished the season, $8.4 million (or, subtracting the sunk cost of the buyout, $7.8 million) seems like way too much to pay. The Pirates also dodged a bullet by not signing Wilson to an extension while they still had him.

Given all that, Neal Huntington did very well to buy low on Cedeno, ridding themselves of the problem of what to do with Wilson while acquiring a credible alternative. Cedeno isn't Wilson on defense, but he isn't bad, and offensively he did a good impression of a decent Jack Wilson season, hitting .258/.307/.394 with the Bucs. He's also five years younger than Wilson, so he has at least some chance of improving in the next couple of years. Obviously, he hasn't yet proven himself to be a long-term answer at shortstop, but it's equally unclear that Wilson would have been. It is, of course, possible that Cedeno will fall apart next year, but it's also possible he takes a step forward, and anyway the Pirates really just need someone to get through the next year or two until a real big-league shortstop (possibly Chase D'Arnaud) finally emerges from the minors.

Meanwhile, Snell showed few genuine signs of improvement in Seattle--he somehow posted a 4.20 ERA there, but he walked more batters than he struck out. Clement struggled after a quick start in the Pirates organization, but that may have had something to do with an oblique strain that may have cost him a chance at a September callup. Lorin pitched very well down the stretch at West Virginia, and Adcock and Pribanic still look like at least marginal prospects. (Pribanic had a terrific ERA for West Virginia, but he still isn't striking anyone out.) Unless Snell improves, it may turn out that the Mariners get almost nothing from the Wilson trade. Cedeno alone could make it a good one for the Pirates.