Jeff Pearlman probably needs to stop writing about the Pirates

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Mere days after writing an article for Sports Illustrated about the Pittsburgh Pirates that he kicked himself over for being “mediocre,” Jeff Pearlman posts about what he feels to be another Pirate misstep: the July 2008 trade of of Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees for Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf:

The Pittsburgh loyalist–an odd breed who gets punched in the head
repeatedly (by his loved one, no less) while screaming, “More! More!
More!” looks at this deal 1 1/2 years later and says, “Not bad.” Nady,
after all, has been injury prone and, when healthy, only moderately
productive. And, before his dazzling World Series showing of two months
ago, Marte was pretty much a Yankee bust–a 5.40 ERA in 25 games last
season, a 9.45 ERA in 21 games this season.

So what did the Pirates receive for two craved medallions? Daniel
McCutcheon, who at best will be a fourth starter for a bad team. Jeff
Karstens, a non-roster invitee for 2010 who will likely wind up in
Triple A for somebody. Ross Ohlendorf, a No. 5 starter or long reliever
for 90 percent of Major League teams (but, in Pittsburgh, a key
component of the rotation). And, last but not least, the mighty Jose
Tabata, a 21-year-old outfielder and the key to the deal for the
Pirates.

This analysis is utterly perplexing to me.  Just days before, in that “mediocre” column, Pearlman took the Pirates to task for allegedly signing expensive, over-the-hill veterans (never mind that they don’t really do that anymore). Now, he’s ripping them for trading older guys who are about to become expensive for young, cheap guys with a lot of upside?

Maybe Jose Tabata doesn’t become the next Manny Ramirez — you never know what will happen with kids like that — but if the Pirates shouldn’t be trading guys they can’t use for promising young players like Tabata, what in Earth should they be doing?

And what’s with the slam on Ross Ohlendorf?  He won 11 games and had a 3.92 ERA — which was above average for the league — for a crappy team. How does that translate to “a No. 5 starter or long reliever
for 90 percent of Major League teams”?  If he was on the Yankees or Dodgers last year he probably would have gotten a postseason start. In fact, I can’t think of a single team that wouldn’t have had a place in their rotation for a guy with an ERA+ of 105 last season.  If the deal was Nady and Marte straight up for Ohlendorf, the Pirates would have won the trade.

Look, I’ve been highly critical of the Pirates over the years for certain things that they do. But one thing they have started to do recently is to acquire guys who, while iffy, are young, cheap and high ceilings. Tabata is one of those guys. So is Lastings Milledge.  It may not work, but it’s the best they can do, and in light of that, it’s pretty smart baseball.

So, two Pirates columns in a week and two whiffs for Jeff Pearlman. Maybe he should cut his losses and start in new with, say, the Royals.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.