Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Neal we trust? A breakdown of deadline deals

So it's July 28 at 1:00 p.m. and officially 75 hours until the Major League Baseball trade deadline. The Pittsburgh Pirates have scored 1 run in their last 27 innings, hit 2 home runs in their last 10 games and are facing two more games against the National League's second-best team before a three-game  road series against the league's best, where they will face two of the last three National League Cy Young award winners.

You don't think you're the only one who thinks this team needs some help, do you?

Reported first by ESPN's Jayson Stark more than a week ago and followed up by the Trib-Review's Dejan Kovacevic on Wednesday that Carlos Beltran was willing to go to any of the seven contenders in the National League.  The problem with that was, there was eight at the time. So despite the hype of ESPN and hanging in the NL Central with the Brewers and Cardinals, the most elite hitter on the market didn't want to play in Pittsburgh. And word is the Pirates were willing to pick up all of the $6 million remaining on the contract.

So everything being said about the Pirates needing to make a big splash and add Beltran apparently general manager Neal Huntington agreed with. He tried to reward his team and the fans with the hitter his team so desperately needs. He did everything in his power. And fans have to trust in that.

With hours ticking away, the names are still coming out of the woodwork. White Sox bats like Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko are being discussed. Konerko is incredibly unrealistic but would you rather NH's hand still be in play or would you rather have settled like the Indians' apparently have for Cubs' outfielder Kosuke Fukodome. Houston's Hunter Pence, Oakland's Josh Willingham, San Diego's Ryan Ludwick and Quentin's names are all still in talks between the many teams looking for help.

And the hardest part for Pirates fans is to sit and wait. But it's likely the best scenario. In trade deadline deals, NH is 4-3-2. And since he's made nine trades in three years, it would seem unlikely that the Pirates will do nothing. Here's a breakdown of those July trades.
  • His trade of Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees brought back four players. Those four are only the starting left fielder (Jose Tabata), two starters (Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf) and a strong bullpen arm (Daniel McCutchen) on the current team. And where would this organization be without that deal. Enormous win for NH
  • The Jason Bay trade is leaning toward the loss column because the top prospect in the deal (Bryan Morris) is now a bullpen arm in Double-A three years later. It's almost unfair to call it a loss, since the Pirates were in no position to pay Bay. When everyone in baseball knows that, it's hard to get any return none the less four players, one of which Andy LaRoche, was one of the top hitting prospects in the Dodgers organization. But none have worked out. I can sympathize, but it's still a loss.
  • The trade of Jack Wilson and his bad contract to Seattle with Ian Snell garnered starting shortstop Ronny Cedeno, Clement and prospects. One of those prospects, Aaron Pribanic, is a starter at Double-A. I have to give this one a win simply because without any future shortstop in sight, Cedeno has held down the job well for a lot cheaper than anyone could expect. Wilson was a fan favorite but way overpaid. A win.
  • Adam LaRoche being sent to Boston for Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland could be a draw. But I'd say it's a win considering NH saved over $2 million in the deal
  • Freddy Sanchez to the Giants for prospect Tim Alderson is considered a loss. I'd argue that Sanchez has just 700 at-bats in almost two full seasons in San Francisco for almost $12 million that could tip the scales NH's way but Alderson is still up in the air. At 22 years old, he's pitching well out of Altoona's bullpen so he could turn this into a win eventually with his play and the money saved but right now it has to be a tie because Sanchez would be blocking Neil Walker at this point. So tie...for now.
  • Trading John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for Jose Ascenio, Kevin Hart and Josh Harrison is another deal thought as a loss but I'm not so sure. Grabow has posted a 5.27 ERA in his time with Chicago for $7.5 million while Gorzelanny was 11-11 with a 4.43 ERA in 30 starts before being traded for prospects before the 2011 season started. Hart has been terrible and then injured, but Ascenio was a bust in the bullpen. But Josh Harrison has contributed this season when called upon and currently can be a utility infielder backing up both 2B and 3B to a .263 batting avg. Gorzelanny's average pitching and ability to get the Cubs three players still makes this a loss but it's closer than it appears.
  • At the 2010 trade deadline, NH was busy with three deals. The first, sending Octavio Dotel for James McDonald is clearly a win. McDonald has pitched outstanding while Dotel was traded within days. Hitting prospect Andrew Lambo came from L.A. in this deal as well, and he's still trying to figure it out in Double A, but McDonald has already won this deal for NH.
  •  D.J. Carrasco, Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby were sent to Arizona for Chris Snyder, Pedro Ciriaco and cash. Snyder's injury takes this away from being a win. The three sent to Arizona weren't doing much before the trade and haven't since and NH got to see if Ciriaco was an answer at SS. That being said, the Pirates have paid a lot of money for Snyder. So a draw.
  • The same day, the Bucs shipped lefty Javier Lopez to San Francisco for John Bower and Joe Martinez. Martinez is gone and Bowker hasn't been considered an option to help with all the injuries in the outfield while Lopez has been a lights out southpaw out of the Giants' bullpen, with a 1.84 ERA in 77 appearances so far. Lopez appeared in nine playoff games as the Giants won the World Series. Big win for S.F.
It should be an exciting three days. but expect something to happen. Or this Pirates team may just be for a very long end to the 2011 season.

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