Prior to the start of the 2012 MLB season, I had many intense arguments with other Pirates fans about why the team would allow a solid pitcher like Paul Maholm, the eighth overall selection in the 2003 amateur draft, to leave and instead sign veteran starter A.J. Burnett to a two year deal. Many argued that Maholm wasn't a power arm--a true ace--and the team needed that kind of guy to anchor the staff.
As it turns out, Burnett was a key acquisition--maybe the best free agent pick-up the team has had in years--and has not only established himself as Pittsburgh's ace, he's become the true clubhouse leader a young team learning how to win sorely needs.
Having said all that, what's wrong with having BOTH Burnett and Maholm on the same staff? The thing is, Maholm should never be the ace of any staff. However, that doesn't mean he can't be a valuable member of one.
Maholm is now with the Braves and has started off the season 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA. How good would Maholm look on a pitching staff with Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and a soon-to-be arriving Gerrit Cole?
This might seem like revisionist history, but as I said earlier, I've always been a Maholm fan. He may not be Stephen Strasburg (or Cole), throwing 99 mph, but not everyone can be that guy. What Maholm is, however, is an innings eater and a solid contributor.
Every staff needs a Paul Maholm. Unfortunately, for a team like the Pirates, it's usually an either/or scenario in cases like these.
That's too bad.