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Pirates Drop Zach Duke After Six Years

The Pirates have non-tendered pitcher Zach Duke, infielder Andy LaRoche and outfielder Delwyn Young and have added pitching prospects Jeff Locke, Tony Watson, Kyle McPherson, Danny Moskos and Mike Crotta to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the Rule 5 draft.

Duke, LaRoche and Young's careers with the organization are likely over, with Duke having spent the better part of six seasons with the team. I don't agree with the Pirates' decision to drop Duke - it's a very minor case of throwing the baby out instead of the bathwater. Duke is a perfectly capable pitcher who depends very heavily on his defense. The big problem this year, and throughout much of Duke's career, is that the defense has been horrible, bringing his numbers down. He was arbitration-eligible, though, and probably would have had a 2011 salary in the range of $5-6 million, so dropping him is defensible if the Pirates believe they can get a better pitcher in free agency or through a trade. Their defense, however, will still stink.

LaRoche, one of the key players acquired in the Jason Bay trade, had a reasonably good year in 2009 but completely fell apart this year and didn't even really hit the ball hard in 2010, particularly in the second half. He and Young, who isn't nearly good enough with the stick to justify his awful fielding, weren't worth taking to arbitration.

All the prospects the Pirates added except Locke are marginal, but since it recently came to light that Rudy Owens and Starling Marte weren't eligible for the draft, the Pirates didn't have many big-ticket players to protect. The best talent they're leaving available in the Rule 5 draft is Nathan Adcock, one of the three pitchers acquired in the Jack Wilson deal. Adcock, though, pitched in Class A+ last year and is a good bet not to be taken, since the Rule 5 process requires teams to keep players on the big-league roster the whole year.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.