Jose Bautista's three-homer outburst against the Twins on Sunday leaves him with Barry Bonds-like numbers for the season, which has begun a new round of agonizing for Pirates fans upset that their team traded him for Robinzon Diaz back when Bautista stunk and there was little indication he would ever be good. Here's my contribution to that debate, which by now is as tired as can be.â†µ
Bautista never had an OBP higher than .339 with the Pirates. He was also a defensive liability, which means that even given the modest pop and on-base skills, he was a replacement-level player when he was with the Pirates, or maybe a little better. He was also 27 and about to enter his second year of arbitration.â†µ
Generally, that's exactly the sort of player a rebuilding team shouldn't bother with, because that player type gets in the way of building a winner.â†µ
There's an argument to be made that the Pirates messed up with Bautista, but I think that argument has to revolve around the Pirates' coaching and whether they could have helped him make the adjustments that the Blue Jays ended up making. Bautista has said that his pre-Jays coaches tried to tell him to make the changes he eventually made with the Blue Jays, but he couldn't implement them. Perhaps the Pirates could have communicated better, or maybe Bautista just couldn't learn them at that point in his career. But the type of player Bautista was at the time - an aging, replacement-level player - is precisely the type a rebuilding team shouldn't want on its roster.