Welcome Back Nate McLouth

No Place Like Pittsburgh: Nate McLouth and the Ruby Red Slippers

Nate McLouth signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates today.  To say McLouth will be a major project for Pittsburgh Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle is an understatement.  Apparently, Hurdle is up for a challenge and It’s obvious McLouth is pretty happy after reading his quotes about returning to Pittsburgh.

But as you know, the Nate McLouth that returns to Pittsburgh doesn’t resemble the McLouth who left.  At the time, it was a jaw dropping trade for Pirates fans.  Now we know it turned out as a win for Neal Huntington.

It just seems hard for me to see this signing as a win without some major work.  McLouth sucks against left handers much like Garrett Jones does.  Jones has a few faults as we all know especially on the basepaths, or while fielding at first base.  But at the plate Jones outweighs McLouth.

If the Pirates don’t make an offer to keep Jones in black and gold it will be a mistake.  As it stands now, we don’t see how it could happen.   Some believe, the Pirates upgraded the outfield with the signing of McLouth.  He has ML experience and was successful in Pittsburgh.

That’s about all we see.

It gives the Pirates some time to season their young outfield talent  a bit more in AAA, but unless Hurdle and hitting coach Gregg Richie work some serious Wizard of Oz magic, it’s hard to imagine the yellow brick road return of McLouth turning out as a blockbuster.

Reaching back for McLouth will keep Hurdle busy.   Someone within the Bucs organization must see something that will generate a return on the nearly $2 million dollar investment in McLouth.

The Pirates see the athlete, the person.  The major leaguer that has a lot of experience.  But if he can’t hit anymore, what’s the point?  What about the injuries that can change a player?  McLouth had a serious period of offensive struggles that surely changed him as a player.   I’m not certain that the Bucs can ever repair the confidence that McLouth lost in Atlanta.

The big struggle for me in giving this signing a thumbs up is this:  it’s not like Hurdle and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie don’t have enough on their to-do list this year.     Just look at the roster, it’s scattered with players that struggled at the plate in 2011.  Personally, we prefer the targeted approach.  The sniper.  The Pirates staff will have to utilize the 16-gauge approach this spring.

But credit the Bucs for one thing. They are putting their coaching and development staff on the line with this move. It shows me the Pirates coaches are ready and are confident that they will be able to get some serious remedial hitting work done in 2012.

God knows there are plenty of players in line for the help.

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