Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pirate Trading Deadline

Well another trading deadline has come and gone and once again the Pirates are a brand new team. I think the Pirates may be a better team in the long run, but this last deal sending Jason Bay to Boston leaves some question in my mind.

The earlier deal that sent Xavier Nady and Desmond Marte to New York for a 19 year old outfielder and three pitchers, one of witch joined the Pirates immediately was a great deal. The Pirates need to get some pitching in their minor league system. This year has shown they have nothing in the upper parts of the farm system. This deal netted them two in the minor league system and one who immediately helped fill in the blanks of an injury plagued starting rotation. Nady was going to leave and Marte would not have been resigned. They would have gotten two draft picks of compensation for Marte, but the Pirates drafting record on pitchers is not so good, and it puts the rebuilding off long term.

This new deal has the potential to be very good. They parted ways with Jason Bay, which was sad. He was signed for another year, so I was kind of hoping to keep him around. But, they got a third baseman in the deal. Jose Bautista, the current 3rd baseman is a joke. He is the giant hole in the Pirate line-up. The Dodgers gave up third baseman Andy LaRoche to Pittsburgh. Andy is the brother of Adam who plays firstbase for the Pirates. Adam is another joke because he does not start hitting at all until the All Star break. He is a big disappointment. Andy has only played a handful of games, but is hitting on .203 with the Dodgers. That is not a good sign. However, he is a highly touted prospect, and men that know more than I do think he will be good. The Dodgers also gave up a starting pitching prospect in Brain Morris. He is being sent to the Pirates Single A team. Another pitcher to add depth to the farm system.

The Red Sox gave up Craig Hansen, a middle reliever, which the Pirates could use, but it is not a desperate need. He is mediocre so far this year, but it should be easier to pitch in the National League. The other player in the deal from Boston is Brandon Moss. He has been on the Red Sox as a back up outfielder and is hitting .299 in limited time. It will be a step down from Jason Bay, and I do not see a long-term future for this guy in Pittsburgh, but it allows McCutchen to stay in Triple A until the roster expands. One could easily see next year’s outfield being McCutchen, McClouth, and Morgan with Pierce playing first base and Adam LaRoche riding the bench. That would be nice. Complete that picture with Neil Walker at third, Freddy Sanchez at second and Jack Wilson at short and Doumit behind the plate and Paulino backing him up and the Pirates have a lot of young talent.

I suppose for the Pirates the main part of this deal is insurance. They added depth to their pitching both starting and relief. They also added Moss and LaRoche who can serve as insurance just in case Morgan never learns to hit consistently and Walker does not pan out at third. The addition of Andy LaRoche at third may delay Walker another year in the minors.

So overall I give the Pirates a B+ on this year of trading. The Nady-Marte trade was perfect. The Pirates lost nothing they were not going to lose anyway and it cleared the way for that Triple A outfield to start making its way to the majors. The depth to the pitching was the most important thing. It also added a long term outfielder who was a few years away, but a big time talent. This Red Sox trade continued adding depth to the pitching, but it also got a few players who appear to be in the same slots as current Pirate prospects. I would rather have seen another pitcher or a first basemen, even a short stop (as I am not sold on Brian Bixler).

To put it a more dramatic way, the Pirate outfield this year had a higher combined batting average and more RBI’s than the starting outfield for the National League in the All Star game. The Triple A outfield for the Pirates was arguably more talented than their major league one. Yes, we dumped two of the starting outfielders, one was going to go anyway. But, we also added two more outfielders. Add to that fact that Chris Duffy is making his way back and now the Pirates still have three outfield spots for 8 outfielders. That alone downgrades this trading year to a B+.