It’s being reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates have given Andrew McCutchen an ultimatum. Either you move over to a corner outfield spot or we’re going to trash (I mean trade) you yesterday. Have they lost their minds?
Instead, he tells you because he is Andrew McCutchen and he’s all winning and because the fans love him. He comes to you and says, “You know what, I think I’ve lost a step out there and maybe it’d be better for the team if I move over to right as soon as you have a replacement for me in center.”
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When it was clear to everyone except Joe DiMaggio that he was embarrassing himself in center field, the Yankees had a choice to make. Tell this guy, who loves himself more than he loves Marilyn Monroe even, that he has to make way for Mickey Mantle, or do nothing because you don’t want to rock his boat. They chose to do nothing and look what happened. Mantle runs like a deer chasing after a ball that DiMaggio would have caught in his back pocket but can’t reach now – and Mantle winds up twisting his leg in a drain and losing half of the breakneck speed he had before the injury. And he still made the Hall of Fame.
But that’s not the situation we have here with Andrew McCutchen. He’s not an egomaniac and he’s already proven that he’s willing to take one for the team by grudgingly moving to second in the batting order. Maybe now, he’s simply saying enough is enough and I ain’t movin’ nowhere.
Okay, so he had an off year. But he battled through injuries for you and still managed to hit 24 home runs and drive in 79. No, this is more about the Pirates than it is about McCutchen. The same Pirates who came so close twice in a row to being what the Cubs are now. Except that they didn’t. And they didn’t move forward when they had the chance because, for whatever reasons they had, they didn’t make a July or August move that would have put the team over the top.
Or maybe this is all about the Pirates finishing in third place this year, a full 25 games behind the Cubs. And they need to explain to their rabid fans in a small market that the reason for everything is Andrew McCutchen. They should be so lucky.
Even more puzzling, though, is the fact that the Pirates still have the core of a pretty good team. Take Starling Marte (only 28), Gregory Polanco, who hit 22 home runs with 86 RBI at the tender age of 26, and add them to McCutchen and you have yourself the nucleus of a pretty good team. And add that to your up-and-coming pitching and your future looks even brighter.
It’s not that franchise players haven’t been traded before. Tom Seaver was traded by the Mets to the White Sox where he went on to win his 300th game. In recent years, for example, the Minnesota Twins traded Justin Morneau and the Seattle Mariners traded Ichiro Suzuki, who went on to collect his 3,000th hit this year with the Marlins.