Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pirates Covet Xavier Paul's Package, Pick Him Up Off Waivers

The Dodgers had placed fifth outfielder Xavier Paul on waivers, and Pittsburgh, drooling over Paul's "overall package," claimed him on Tuesday:

The Pirates have made their second waiver claim in a week, taking outfielder Xavier Paul from the Dodgers on Tuesday. The Pirates added Paul to the 40-man roster by moving Scott Olsen from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Olsen has been in extended spring training trying to build up arm strength. [...]

"We like the overall package and that package is what has allowed him to have success at the Minor League level," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "Our challenge is to help him get over that next big hurdle. A lack of consistent playing time is a challenge for nearly any young player, and 160 Major League plate appearances is a small sample size. We have some thoughts as to how we can help Xavier, but we want to allow him to settle into his new environment and gain a comfort level before we begin to look to make adjustments."

It's a sentimental bummer to be losing XP, whose speed I liked (as well as the fact that his initials brought back memories of time spent on myriad RPGs); but in three years with the Dodgers, and a sad .233 batting average and a 67 OPS+, there didn't appear to be a lot of future upside here--especially not with Tony Gwynn Jr. and Marcus Thames and maybe Jerry Sands and perhaps Jay Gibbons all clogging up that position as well. Not sure how Paul will do as a Buc, but I assume he'll light us up for three HR and seven RBI over May 8-10.

And while we're at it, what of that other Dodger refugee turned Pirate James McDonald (who was traded along with Andrew Lambo for the thoroughly unmemorable rental of Octavio Dotel last year)? McDonald went 4-5 in 11 starts with a 116 ERA+ last year: promising. But this year, McDonald is off to an 0-2 start in 4 appearances and a 10.13 ERA, calibrating to a 40 ERA+. Small sample size? Maybe.

But I recall watching a couple of McDonald's starts at the Stadium during his Dodger career, and always seeing him look a little lost out there when things started going astray. Is this apparent psychological weakness addressable with experience? Maybe (see: Chad Billingsley (I hope)). Maybe not (see: Jonathan Broxton (I fear)).