Monday, August 4, 2008

The Bay Trade

Well, they did it. Mark it down, send it out, spread the word. The Pittsburgh Pirates, contrary to their constant insistence, are in full-scale rebuilding mode. Hunker down Bucco fans, and prepare to use that dreaded “r” word quite liberally.
After the Nady/Marte trade a few days back, the players were certainly concerned about the 2008 and 2009 future of the ball club. Now, though, forget about ’08, as a downward plummet toward a top 2 or 3 pick next season is imminent, and forget about anything other then a potentially slim shot at .500 in the ’09 campaign. 2010 and beyond are now the years that General Manager Neal Huntington is targeting, and to tell the truth, I don’t fault the man one bit.
If you were listening to the local talk shows immediately after this deal, and I was on my way home from work and still am as I write this, you would’ve expected to see a pitchfork carrying mob charging the PBC HQ over on Federal Street, and you would expect PNC Park to be empty tonight (though that is a possibility), but I am here to tell you all one word: Relax.
That’s all, just relax. The old fable about Branch Rickey telling Ralph Kiner the Pirates could finish last with him or without him (a story that is reportedly not true by the way) holds true somewhat here. Of course it wasn’t Bay’s fault at all that this team stunk, but with the disaster that is the starting pitching, a total lack of depth in the minor league system, and struggling seasons from two formerly key cogs in Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche it was clear that this team wasn’t going to be able to contend by standing pat with their current core. So it made the most sense to get this batch of prospects while they had the offer on the table.
There are also those who made the claim that the Pirates would have been better off waiting until the off-season to make this kind of a deal, but I don’t think so. I legitimately think that Andy LaRoche is an excellent young prospect, though it does perplex what they are going to deal with all of these young third basemen (Bautista, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez hopefully, and now little LaRoche). It will be interesting to see who gets shifted to other spots.
The other three guys are all pretty solid players, but LaRoche Jr. is the centerpiece. Brian Morris is coming off a recent Tommy John surgery (gulp) but is probably 2-3 years away. Brandon Moss will give them roughly what they would have expected from Xavier Nady prior to his breakout year this season, and Craig Hansen is a flamethrower who is a closer in the making.
Certainly, it hurts real bad to lose Jason Bay. He’s a tremendous asset in the clubhouse and is a legitimate franchise type cornerstone that I think the fine people of Boston will be very excited by if they give him a chance.

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