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Fab Five Week: Why Bother Extending Andrew McCutchen Now?

Andrew McCutchen

How nice does it feel to have a center fielder named Andrew McCutchen?  He isn’t the perfect player, but he is the best player we have had in Pittsburgh in a long time.  But just how much longer will McCutchen play for the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Mark in Dallas looked at the possibility of McCutchen being a Super Two player after the 2011 season over at Bucs Dugout. He concluded that Cutch (along with Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata for that matter) are ‘probably safe from Super Two status, assuming there still is such a thing after the current CBA expires after the 2011 season.’

It’s an interesting piece of work as always from Mark and the great commenters on the site.  Most Pirates fans trust that Andrew McCutchen will be in Pittsburgh for a long, long time.  We do too. 

But remember this.  Andrew McCutchen is far from a complete player in our eyes.  He still needs to hit for more power.  He still needs to play better defensively.   Everyone feels that he is on the verge of his breakout season in 2011.

He runs like the wind, but still can improve in turning his speed into more steals and more extra bases.  This spring, we all have seen him get thrown out easily trying to steal bases and stretch for an extra base.  He appears very athletic.  Being fast and being athletic means that McCutchen should play in MLB for a very long time.  But the big debate about exactly what kind of sustained player McCutchen will become looms large in the decision to extend McCutchen. 

We’ve heard the whisperers that say the Pirates did try and extend McCutchen last season, but he didn’t bite.  We can believe it. 

We think the Pirates tried to extend McCutchen in the past knowing that he will have long term value.  Just how much value is the debatable part, is he a long term 4, 5, or 6 WAR player? 

So with that in mind-knowing the Bucs probably tried to get a discount deal on Cutch and the fact that he and his agent felt he was going to produce much more than the Pirates were willing to pay, there is only one thing left to do,  it’s time to sit back and watch McCutchen this year.  Will his defense improve?  Will he hit for more power?  Will his walk and hence his stolen base numbers rise as a result? 

It’s a big year for McCutchen.  He could be setting himself up for a major ‘break Bob Nutting’s back account’ payday, but a nagging injury here, a rolled ankle there and all of a sudden a mid-season slump can change the numbers–and that big payday McCutchen was rumored to nix in lieu of an even bigger one he feels he can land. 

Did you wonder why he pulled himself out of the game with a painful wrist the other day?  Just one freak injury will cost McCutchen.  He’s a smart player.  If he feels something, he won’t and in our eyes shouldn’t play through it. 

So looking into the crystal ball here in Fab 5 week, the odds of a major breakout season with monster numbers for McCutchen in 2011-I can’t see it.   And I hope I am deader than dead wrong about that.  So why bother extending Cutch-to make some good PR in the city?  Meh.  Screw that. 

McCutchen is a Pittsburgh Pirate until he’s 28.  If I’m in the big chair on Federal Street, I say let’s watch this season unfold, figure out what Andrew McCutchen truly is, see what’s up with the CBA, and then sit down with him and get a deal done.

But there are certainly things to ponder should the Bucs make an extension with Cutch.  The Bucs will need to convince themselves that there is nobody that they will be able to put on the field in McCutchen’s age 29 season that can produce what McCutchen can produce.  Think about that.  It would be a damning statement for their minor league system in a way should McCutchen ever be extended.   Or it just simply means that the baseball people feel, McCutchen truly is a special player.   A player that deserves a massive check unlike anything Bob Nutting has ever autographed before.

And if Nutting writes that check, it would mean that Pirates fans won’t have to suffer without a star player in center again.   Do you remember this list of Pittsburgh Pirates that have played center field since Andy Van Slyke was winding down his time? 

Get it on in 2011. Get it on. SI photo

Al Martin

Scott Bullett

Glenn Wilson

John Wehner

Midre Cummings

Lonnie Smith

Will Pennyfeather

Steve Pegues

Former bench coach Gary Varsho

Tony Womack

Jermaine Allensworth

Jacob Brumfield

Turner Ward

Adrian Brown

Jose Guillen

Emil Brown

Manny Martinez

Brian Giles

The man who walked on water

Bruce Aven

Gary Matthews

Under Armour poster boy Tike Redman

Derek Bell

Adam Hyzdu

Rob Mackowiak

Tony Alvarez, no relation to Pedro

Jason Bay

Ruben Mateo

Jose Bautista. *Sigh*

Chris Duffy

Nate McLouth

Xavier Nady

Nyjer Morgan

Rajai Davis

Jason Michaels

You deserve a medal for making it through that list. We probably missed a player or two…. But how nice it knowing that CF is taken care of in 2011? 

Follow us in 2011 on Twitter

Thanks to Baseball Reference for the help with the list.

Andrew McCutchen will be able to steal more bases in 2011

P.S.

Andrew McCutchen out WARred the entire Pirates team in 2010 according to a recent article in Fan Graphs.  McCutchen is really good.  To think he produced more WAR than the entire Pirates offense and defense reminds us how laughable 2010 was for the Pirates.

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