In a comment to my recent article article about Josh Lueke , someone commented that the public at large has a short memory when it comes to ballplayers’ past transgressions.  I was reminded of that fact today when I read about how Pirates’ rookie Jose Tabata’s estranged wife pleaded guilty to kidnapping today.

Not too long after the Pirates obtained then minor-leaguer Tabata from the Yankees as the centerpiece (for the Pirates) in the Xavier Nady trade, it was news that in early 2008, Tabata married a woman named Amalia Pereira, who was more than twice his age (she’s 23 years older), and that in early 2009 she had been charged with kidnapping.

I had completely forgotten about Mrs. Tabata and the kidnapping charges against her, until I noticed today’s news article.  The back-story is as follows: Amalia pretended to be an immigration official and threatened the mother of a two-month old baby that her family would be deported, that she (Amalia) wanted to help, but had to take the baby from them.

The parents were in fact undocumented immigrants, which has a lot to do with why they accepted such a crazy story and turned over the child.  However, within about six hours, with the assistance of a friend who spoke English, the parents reported the abduction to the police.

Meanwhile, Jose Tabata was reported by AP to have said that prior to the kidnapping his wife had lied to him that she was pregnant with his child.  Here’s the wikipedia article with links to the contemporaneous news articles: I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Now, on to the part that really has some relevance to major league baseball.  In reading the wikipedia article above, I noticed this link to a recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article in which Pirates’ management acknowledge all the rumors that Tabata may actually be in his mid-20′s and not age 21 as claimed.

This is actually very important news as far as the Pirates and Tabata’s future development are concerned.  If Tabata turns 22 on August 12th, he’s a hell of prospect, given his past minor performance, even if he isn’t much of a major league left-fielder today.  On the other hand, if Tabata turns 25 on August 12th, he isn’t much of a prospect at all.

Tabata hasn’t shown a lick of power in his professional career to date.  If he’s 21, that’s alright, because he may add power as he matures.

Also, his one proven ability as an offensive player is his ability to hit for average.  If he’s in his early 20′s, he will almost certainly be a future .300+ hitter in the major leagues.  If he’s closing in on 25, he isn’t going to get a whole lot better than he is now: at best a .290s hitter with no power and not a lot of walks.

In other words, if Tabata’s only 21 today, he has a good chance to be the next Matty Alou, who hit .330 or better four years in a row for the Pirates in the late 1960′s.  If he’s 24 today, he’s a lot more likely to be the next Lastings Milledge.

That’s perhaps not fair to Milledge, who was the 12th player selected in the 2003 Draft and had a fine year at age 23 for the Mets in 2008; Lastings, at age 25, still has time to develop into a star.  However, the point is obvious: at this moment in time Milledge doesn’t look like he’s going to be any better than a fourth outfielder at the major league level.

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