Bucs’ Trades = Win

Interesting deals by the Pirates at Saturday’s trading deadline. Gone are:

Bobby Crosby, SS (to Diamondbacks) .224/.301/.295
Ryan Church, OF (to Diamondbacks) .182/.240/.312
DJ Carrasco, P (to Diamondbacks) 3.88 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.3 K/9
Octavio Dotel, P (to Dodgers) 4.28 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 10.8 K/9
$500,000 cash (to Dodgers)
Javier Lopez, P (to Giants) 2.79 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 5.1 K/9

The pitchers will be missed. All were effective and part of a strong bullpen. Crosby and Church were ineffective to put it nicely. The thing that all of these players have in common is that none of them were part of the long term plan and all are (or should be) easily replaceable for next season. In return the Pirates received:

Chris Snyder, C (from Diamondbacks) .231/.352/.426
Pedro Ciriaco, SS (from Diamondbacks) (AAA) .259/.278/.392
$3,000,000 cash (from Diamondbacks)
James McDonald, P (from Dodgers) (AAA) 4.41 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 8.1 K/9
Andrew Lambo, OF (from Dodgers) (AA) .271/.325/.420
John Bowker, OF (from Giants) (AAA) .310/.388/.594
Joseph Martinez, P (from Giants) (AAA) 3.32 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.2 K/9

That’s a Ryan Doumit clone with better D, 2 rotation candidates, one OF who could come up now, one young OF who projects very well, a toolsy SS prospect, AND a wad of dough. If there’s anything not to like here I can’t see it. For more analysis and detailed breakdown on the young guys check the blogroll to the left. There have been several good articles written since Saturday.

Wanted: Major League SS

Garrett Jones at 1B. Neil Walker at 2B. Pedro Alvarez at 3B. Jose Tabata in LF. Andrew McCutchen in CF. Lastings Milledge in RF. Ryan Doumit at C (We can discuss his lack of defense another time). That’s a pretty good lineup, or at least has the potential to be one if the young players mature as expected. What? I left something out? Oh yeah, a shortstop.

Shortstop is a big problem for the Pirates. Ronny Cedeno and Bobby Crosby have been inconsistent and below average. The front office knew this was a problem and tried to trade for J.J. Hardy in the off season, offering Matt Capps. Milwaukee opted for Carlos Gomez from the Twins instead. The closest options in the minors are not much better:

AAA: Argenis Diaz. Acquired from Boston in the Adam LaRoche trade. Stereotypical good glove/no bat type. Currently has an OPS of .600 after posting a .583 combined at Portland and Indianapolis last year.

Brian Bixler. Was called up in 2008 and 2009 with disastrous results. Was traded to Cleveland in the offseason for a low minors catcher. Recently reacquired for a PTBNL.

Brian Friday. Third round draft pick on 2007. 24 years old, decent prospect, hit well at Rice. Needs more seasoning though.

AA: Chase d’Arnaud. Fourth round pick in 2008. Currently OPSing .682 after going for an .852 clip last year at A and high-A combined. Best shortstop prospect in the system (#5 overall according to Buccofans.com) but obviously still needs some time.

With the internal options limited or unappealing, it time to look to other organizations for players who might be plundered. MLBTradeRumors.com recently posted a list of shortstops who could be available at the trade deadline. Alex Gonzalez and Yunel Escobar were traded for each other yesterday. Escobar projects as the kind of buy-low the Pirates should be in the market for, but I think the last thing they need is another head case player. (Jonah Keri just wrote a good article on perceived lazy players/head cases/etc. and their value.)

Here are the top outside options I see:

Stephen Drew – Hitting about league average this year which is good for a shortstop. Arizona is known to be in dealing mode but the Pirates probably don’t want to give up the prospects it would take to get him. Detroit is said to be interested.

Ryan Theriot – Having a down year and the Cubs are looking to rebuild. The Riot doesn’t have any power to speak of but can play second or short and will steal 20 bags while getting on base at a .350 rate.

Erick Aybar/Maicer Izturis – Not known to be available (Izturis is currently on the DL) but they seem like redundant pieces to me. The contending Angels are unlike to trade either of them now but I think one of them could be pried away in the offseason.

Getting one of these four players (and a cather who can , you know, catch) would greatly improve the Pirates fortunes for 2011. Did I leave anyone out? Know any other shortstops that would be a fit? Am I an idiot? Tell me in the comments below or on twitter.

Thank you, Chicago

Just when everything looked as hopeless as it has ever looked this season, the Pirates got a chance to go to the well versus the only team they’ve found any success against this year: The Cubs.

Ended: Six game losing streak. 17 game road losing streak. A Pirates starting pitcher recorded an out in the 8th inning for the first time this year.

Continued: Domination versus the Cubs (8-2). Losing a second baseman to a concussion from a collision with the right fielder in consecutive series.

Milledge has to call off Crosby for that ball. I like how he’s hitting but the mental errors are killing me and costing the team runs every game. I was very surprised to see Delwyn Young brought in to play second; it seemed like the perfect time to get Andy LaRoche into a game at 2B to get his feet wet.

Just a reminder: If you don’t already follow me on twitter @TheRealDavidK, I have an account that I use just to post updates to the blog: @643Putout.

Trust your eyes

I hope you all had a good extended weekend and spent the time happily with family and friends. I was able to squeeze in the Pirates/Braves game on Sunday between going camping for the first time in 25 years and regular Memorial Day and birthday celebrations yesterday. Since the game happened two days ago and details are readily available elsewhere, I’ll stick to my impressions of what I saw in the team.

  • Aki Iwamura is slow. From my vantage point his first step was nearly non-existent, meaning he had trouble getting to anything not hit within 6 feet on either side of where he sets up. Bucs Dugout has some video and discussion of pre-injury Aki vs. post-injury Aki here and here. Late in the game John Russell made a double switch, taking Iwamura out, sliding Neil Walker to 2B and bringing in Andy LaRoche. Yesterday the Pirates made the move official saying Walker would be the starting 2B for the foreseeable future. I applaud this decision heartily.
  • I was a little disappointed to see Delwyn Young starting, but just confused to see him in right field with Garrett Jones moving to left. I have yet to read any explanation for this anywhere online. DY made some nice diving catches, but I feel a more fleet-footed outfielder could have gotten under the batted balls earlier – turning them into routine plays.
  • Nice to see Jeff Clement hit a game-tying homer. He’s been hitting the ball better lately in limited opportunities. I was again confused (note the theme) why Russell would bring in Bobby Crosby to pinch-hit in the ninth. Clement had been the only offense so far in the game, hits better vs. lefties (Billy Wagner was pitching), and I’d bet has better bat speed than Crosby. It probably didn’t matter because Wagner was lights out but I say you should let Clement hit there. Give him a chance to face one of the best closers of the past fifteen years.
  • Paul Maholm had a good/bad outing. He was never overpowering and got into a lot of trouble (6 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 5 K) but he fought through some very tough spots – including a bases loaded, no outs situation – and only gave up 2 runs. At the risk of slipping into further cliche’s, it was a gutty if unimpressive performance.
  • Joel Hanrahan pitched a dominant seventh. I was surprised to see him come back out to pitch the 8th and even more surprised the Russell let him pitch to Chipper Jones. Jones’ 2-RBI single was the result of the ball falling in the only open spot between Garrett Jones and Ronny Cedeno. The pitch itself was inside and had lots of movement breaking towards Chipper’s knees. Chipper did a good job fighting it off.
  • Jason Jaramillo caught instead of Ryan Doumit. If only there was someway to combine these two we’d have a heck of a catcher. Dewey’s bat was missed but it was nice seeing strong, on target throws to second and no passed balls.

The Pirate’s loss on Sunday meant being swept by the Braves so I’m probably happier having not gone to all three games.

The week ahead: Pittsburgh’s AAA affiliate the Indianapolis Indians are playing in nearby Gwinnett this week. Early plans have me going to games on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m looking forward to adding first hand glimpses of Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata to the accounts above. As always you can follow me on Twitter for in game comments and the occasional picture.

Also, Georgia Tech was awarded the #8 national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament. They’ll be hosting regional games this weekend, starting Friday night at 7pm vs. Mercer. The winner will face the winner of Alabama and Elon. I plan on hitting a game on either Saturday or Sunday and, again, will post pictures and comments to twitter.