Sunday, May 08, 2005

Santiago Released

The Pirates have released Benito Santiago. Kudos to them for correcting their mistake, which was trading for him in the first place. When he was acquired, I complained that there was no need to trade a real prospect, Leo Nunez, for a catcher when the Pirates had several young catchers, and catchers who contribute at Santiago's level are fairly easy to find anyway.

Near the beginning of the season, the Pirates proved me, and nearly everyone else who was paying attention, right. After J.R. House's injury problems finally got the best of him and Humberto Cota experienced a minor injury, the Pirates decided it would help to acquire yet another catcher rather than bring up Ryan Doumit or Ronny Paulino to ride the bench behind Santiago. So they acquired David Ross from the Dodgers for a nominal fee. He has hit fairly well since then, and his defense is far better than Santiago's, so the Pirates are now releasing Santiago rather than sending Ross to Indianapolis to be their second AAA catcher.

Ross was probably not available for such a low price when the Pirates acquired Santiago, since Ross was not really expendable for the Dodgers until they later acquired Jason Phillips. But that is not the point. The point is that talents like Ross and Santiago are not hard to find in the offseason. You shouldn't trade prospects for them, especially if you're a bad team and you're hoping to contend in the future rather than the present.

In case you're wondering, Nunez is now pitching out of the bullpen for the Class AA Wichita Wranglers, where he has allowed one earned run and one walk, with five strikeouts, in five innings. In April, he also pitched for high Class A High Desert, where he has a 9.00 ERA in 13 innings, although he struck out 15 and walked only three. His chance of making the big leagues will be reduced if he can't make it as a starter, but he still has a chance at helping the Royals in the future. Santiago has no chance of ever helping the Pirates.


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