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Kovacevic: Pirates Could Target Dodgers' Scott Elbert, James MacDonald In Maholm Trade

Dejan Kovacevic writes that the Dodgers are the team most likely to trade for Paul Maholm:

The Los Angeles Dodgers have expressed interest in Maholm for weeks. Their attention Friday seemed to be mostly on another left-hander, the Chicago Cubs’ Ted Lilly, but two sources outside the Pirates said the Dodgers still seemed the best bet.

Pitchers that those sources identified as possible matches were left-hander Scott Elbert, 24, and right-hander James MacDonald, 25. Elbert, a flamethrower, was 1-1 with a 4.98 ERA in nine starts for Class AAA Albuquerque before being placed on the inactive list because of apparent dissatisfaction with the Dodgers. McDonald is 6-1 with a 4.41 ERA for Albuquerque.

Either of those players would make sense, given the narrative that’s developed around Maholm. Yesterday, it came out that the Pirates preferred a major-league-ready starting pitcher for Maholm. I don’t agree at all with that preference, and I would prefer that they reach lower in the minors to find a player with higher upside. I’m also not sure either Elbert or McDonald alone would be enough for Maholm, given how important his stability is to the Bucs. They’re both talented pitchers, however, and I wouldn’t mind having either of them around. Elbert, in particular, is a wild card, because his strikeout rate has been very high at various points in his career. He’s the sort of pitcher who could develop into a good starter or an excellent reliever… or he could struggle with his mechanics and flame out completely.

By the way, don’t take these guys’ Albuquerque stats at face value. That’s one of the toughest parks to pitch in in all of professional baseball.

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